HMS Hawkins (D 86)
Heavy cruiser of the Cavendish class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Chatham Dockyard (Chatham, U.K.): Parsons|
|Laid down||3 Jun 1916|
|Launched||1 Oct 1917|
|Commissioned||25 Jul 1919|
After commissioning HMS Hawkins was the flagship of the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron on the China Station. In 1928 Hawkins paid off at Chatham, and commenced refitting. She was refitted and her coal fired boilers were removed and the remaining oil fired boilers modified. In December 1929 Hawkins was recommissioned and joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron as Flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. In May 1930 the cruiser was decommissioned and joined the Reserve Fleet. In 1932 Hawkins was again recommissioned and she became Flagship to the 4th Cruiser Squadron in the East Indies. In April 1935 once again the cruiser was returned to the Reserve Fleet. In 1937 Because of the London Naval Treaty the cruiser was demilitarised and had all her 7.5 inch guns and the deck mounted torpedo tubes removed before reducing to reserve. In September 1938 it was decided that Hawkins was to be used as a Cadets Training Ship.
On the outbreak of war in 1939 Hawkins was rearmed and became flagship to Rear Admiral Harwood after the Graf Spee incident, and she was used for patrol work off the South American coast as a member of the British blockade patrol squadron and operated as far as the Falklands. On September 5th 1940 Hawkins left Montevideo for Simonstown, South Africa for a long overdue refit, however she was unable to use the dry dock as it was occupied by the damaged aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. Hawkins had to be diverted to Durban where she stayed for seven weeks. She later docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown.
During February 1941 Hawkins supported the British offensive against Somaliland from Kenya as part of Force T of the East Indies Fleet, she and two other old cruisers supported the advance on land with gunfire. Later the same month eight Italian and two German merchant ships set out in an attempt to reach Mogadishu or Vichy French Diego Suarez. Three Italian ships had to be scuttled by their crews when the British troops overwhelmed the town. Aircraft from the carrier Hermes spotted the five remaining Italian ships and they were captured by Hawkins. On July 4th, convoy WS-9A arrived in South Africa from the U.K. embarked was the 161 Brigade on passage to the Middle East where it eventually joined the 4th Indian Division, the convoy consisted of 15 ships, HMS Hawkins and HMS Birmingham provided the escort. In August the cruiser was employed in Cape waters, tasked in the interception of neutral and Vichy shipping, in particular vessels from Vichy France and the Colonies. These vessels were then escorted to the nearest South African port by ships of the South African Seaward Defence Force. It was whilst off Mauritius that she was involved in a serious accident, her starboard outboard shaft fractured, just near the hull and her screw and shafting was lost. From October 10 - 28th she was once more placed in the Selborne dry dock. On November 2nd she left for the U.K. for a refit and repairs.
In May 1942 with her refit completed Hawkins left U.K. to join the Eastern Fleet. On November 5th, convoy WS-23 arrived in South Africa from the U.K. with reinforcements, the convoy consisted of 5 ships. The use of supply ships and “Milch cows” (submarine tankers) enabled U-boats to extend operations to the whole of the South Atlantic, an early success being the sinking of Orcades which was independently routed while homeward-bound on October 10th. From then on an A/S escort was provided for WS Convoys except those comprising the huge high speed ocean liners, HMS Hawkins and HMS Durban provided the escort for this convoy on the final leg of the passage, while the corvettes HMS Rockrose and HMS Thyme provided the A/S escort.
June – August 1943 was spent in the Simonstown dock yard, where she was placed in the dry dock to enable replacing of shaft bushes. November - December was again spent at Simonstown. During this period she spent time once again in the dry dock for the fitting of a new propeller shaft and A bracket.
During January – February 1944 Hawkins was still employed in the Southern waters around South Africa escorting troop convoys. It was during one of these trips that on 12 February 1944 the troopship Khedive Ismael was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-27 (offsite link) with the loss of nearly 1400 lives. At the end of the month she was once again docked in the Selborne dry dock, prior to her transfer to British waters. In June she was now operating in British waters, where she was involved in operation "Neptune," the amphibious phase of D day and formed part of the Western Task Force Gunfire Support Bombardment Force A, for “Utah Beach" commanded by Rear Admiral Deyo (USN). In August she reverted to a Training Ship.
In 1945 Hawkins was reduced to reserve. In January 1947 Hawkins was allocated for ship target trials, and was subjected to bombing by Royal Airforce Lincoln bombers off Spithead. She was sold for scrap on 21 August 1947 and in December the old cruiser was broken up by Arnott Young at Dalmuir.
The ships badge can still be seen displayed on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall.
Commands listed for HMS Hawkins (D 86)
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|1||Capt. Eustace Rotherham, RN||15 Nov 1939||6 May 1940|
|2||Capt. Harry Percy Kendall Oram, RN||6 May 1940||2 Feb 1942|
|3||Cdr. (retired) Peter Keith Wallace, RN||2 Feb 1942||17 Mar 1942|
|4||Cdr. Michael Everard, RN||17 Mar 1942||16 Apr 1942|
|5||Capt. Godfrey Alexander French, RN||16 Apr 1942||13 Jan 1943|
|6||Cdr. Michael Everard, RN||13 Jan 1943||19 Feb 1943|
|7||Capt. Godfrey Alexander French, RN||19 Feb 1943||28 Jun 1943|
|8||Cdr. Michael Everard, RN||28 Jun 1943||1 Jul 1943|
|9||Capt. John William Josselyn, DSC, RN||1 Jul 1943||8 Oct 1944|
|10||Capt. (retired) Edward Clifford Watson, DSO, RN||8 Oct 1944||16 Dec 1944|
|11||A/Cdr. Arthur Alfred Havers, DSC, OBE, RN||16 Dec 1944||mid 1945|
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Notable events involving Hawkins include:
3 Jan 1941
HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) picks up 9 survivors from the British tanker British Premier that was torpedoed and sunk on 24 December 1940 by German U-boat U-65 200 nautical miles south-west of Freetown in position 06°20'N, 13°20'W.
12 Feb 1941
HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) intercepts the German merchant Uckermark (7021 GRT) near Massawa, Eritrea. The Germans scuttled their ship when Hawkins approached.