Allied Warships

HMS Kenya (14)

Light cruiser of the Fiji class

HMS Kenya in heavy Arctic seas

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered20 Dec 1937 
Laid down18 Jun 1938 
Launched18 Aug 1939 
Commissioned27 Sep 1940 
End service 

In December 1940 HMS Kenya was deployed as a unit of the Covering Forces to the North Atlantic convoys. In May 1941 Kenya was a unit of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet, based at Scapa Flow, and was still involved in covering force duties and the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck. On June 3rd the German supply tanker Belchen which was supplying U-93 in the Davis Straits, was surprised and sunk by the cruisers Kenya and HMS Aurora. During September – October U-boats were escorting outbound blockade runners through the Bay of Biscay, and into the Atlantic, and on September 23rd, U-204 accompanied the blockade runner Rio Grande (6.062 BRT) destined for Japan. Based on intelligence data Kenya and HMS Sheffield were sent to intercept her, the Rio Grande managed to escape, however another blockade runner the Kota Pinang (7,277 BRT) was sunk west of Cape Finnisterre, her escort, U-129, was unable to attack, but managed to rescue 119 survivors, and handed them over to a Spanish navy tug on October 6th. By November Kenya was in the Arctic patrolling off the Norwegian polar coast, against German merchant shipping, she was also involved in the shelling of German positions in Vardo. In December, still in the Arctic, Rear Admiral Burrough set out from Scapa Flow with Kenya and 4 destroyers and 2 landing ships to participate in operation “Anklet”, this was the British raid on the Lofoten Islands. Kenya received several hits in this engagement with the Rugsunday coastal battery. Air attacks by the Germans on the 27th and the 28th were fortunately unsuccessful. Early January 1942 the force arrived back at Scapa Flow. During March – May 1942 Kenya was once again involved in supplying a covering force for the convoys in the Arctic. In June she was transferred to the Mediterranean arena as a member of Covering Force W which was intended for the escorting of the double convoy operation code named “Harpoon” and “Vigorous” Gibraltar to Malta, and Alexandria to Malta. In August the cruiser was once again involved in the escorting of a convoy from Gibraltar to Malta code named “Pedestal” under the command of Vice Admiral Syfret. This was the heaviest escorted convoy ever, thirteen merchantmen made up the convoy which was escorted by two battleships, three fleet carriers four anti aircraft cruisers and three general cruisers and no fewer than twenty four destroyers. On the 12th, Kenya was damaged by torpedoes from the Italian submarine Alagi in position 37.52N, 09.21E. In December repairs to her damaged hull were completed.

Kenya remained with the Home Fleet throughout 1943. By January 1944 she was in the Indian Ocean where Kenya was a unit of the 4th Cruiser Squadron of the British Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral Read in command. On February 15th, she docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa. Om March 10th she was undocked. In June Kenya participated in the carrier raid on Port Blair (Nicobars) code named “Pedal”. In July she was involved in the shelling of Sabang. In September the British Eastern Fleet, under Rear Admiral Moodey carried out carrier raids on Sigli in Northern Sumatra, Kenya was part of the as escort, this operation was code named “Light”.

During January – February 1945 Kenya was operating in the Indian Ocean area as a unit of Task Force 65 under Rear Admiral Moodey, they carried out a landing of 500 Marines on the Cheduba Island South of Ramree on January 26th, this was code named “Sankey”. During February - March Kenya wearing the flag of Vice Admiral Walker, escorted the escort carriers HMS Empress and HMS Ameer so that their aircraft could carry out air photo reconnaissance of the Kra Peninsula of the N.E. coast of Sumatra, of Penang and of the Simalu and Banjak Islands. They also made raids on Japanese shipping in the Andaman Sea. In April she returned to the U.K. for refitting.

In October 1946 Kenya joined the America and West Indies Station with the 8th Cruiser Squadron. In December 1947 she arrived back in the UK to be reduced to reserve, and to be refitted at a later date. In May 1949 Kenya was taken out of reserve to replace HMS London which had returned home from the Far East to pay off for scrapping. In July 1950 Kenya was employed in the blockade of the North Korean coast against supply vessels, transports and North Korean warships, Rear Admiral W.G.Andrewes being in command. On August 5th, Kenya and the flagship Belfast carried out a particularly heavy bombardment on Inchon, supported by their two destroyers Cossack and Charity. Kenya had expended some 163 rounds of 6 inch ammunition, and Belfast 252. The Far East Fleet now numbered some twenty nine major warships including HMS Kenya, HMS Jamaica and HMS Belfast. In November the cruiser returned to Hong Kong wearing Rear Admiral Andrewes flag. On the 27th the Communist Chinese, anxious to keep a Communist North Korea as a buffer between themselves and the Americans, launched a major offensive and soon had the United Nation`s forces in full retreat, and on the 30th, the American Admiral C.Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces Far East requested the return of all R.N. ships available. Kenya was soon on her way back through the winter gales to Korea. In January 1951 Inchon had to be evacuated, and was covered by the gunfire from HMS Kenya, HMS Ceylon and USS Rochester. At the time of her departure from Korea for a refit at Singapore, she had chalked up a record having steamed 63,000 miles in 12 months, this was reckoned to be four times her normal peace time steaming in a year. Since leaving Chatham in October 1949 she had steam on her main engines for 365 days by 16th July 1951. During operations in Korea she had expended 3,000 6 inch shells, 2,242 4 inch and 14,240 40mm . She was credited with killing hundreds of enemy troops, and destroying strong points, shore batteries, barracks, arms dumps, munitions factories and vehicles.

In 1952 Kenya was a member of the 1st Cruiser Squadron Mediterranean Fleet. In February 1953 Kenya had her tour of duty completed and was reduced to reserve at Portsmouth. In 1955 Kenya was refitted, and twin Bofors were installed in place of the pom-poms, the director aft was removed and two new small directors on either side of the bridge in place of the older type, immediately abaft the twin Bofors in “x” position, and a new type of director above “X” position. After completion of her refit , she was transferred to the American and West Indies Station where she joined the 8th Cruiser Squadron. In November 1956 Kenya returned to Portsmouth, where she served with the Home Fleet. In 1957 Kenya joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron Mediterranean Fleet as Flagship. In September 1958 Kenya returned to Portsmouth to be reduced to reserve, where she remained for the next four years. On 29 October 1962 Kenya was sold for scrap and was broken up at the Faslane yards of Ship-breaking Industries.


Commands listed for HMS Kenya (14)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Capt. Michael Maynard Denny, RN18 Jul 194031 Mar 1942
2Capt. Alfred Spalding Russell, RN31 Mar 19421 Jan 1943
3Capt. Dering Parker Evans, RN1 Jan 194321 Aug 1943
4Capt. Charles Livingston Robertson, RN28 Aug 194325 Jun 1945
5Cdr. John William Radcliffe Thompson, RN25 Jun 19452 Apr 1946

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Return to the Allied Warships section