Allied Warships

HMS Jamaica (44)

Light cruiser of the Fiji class


HMS Jamaica as seen in 1943 or 1944

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassFiji 
Pennant44 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered1 Mar 1939 
Laid down28 Apr 1939 
Launched16 Nov 1940 
Commissioned29 Jun 1942 
End service20 Nov 1957 
History

In September 1942 Jamaica was employed as a close support for convoys. In November, she was part of the central task force covering the Allied landings in French North Africa, operation Torch in the area of Oran. In December she was in the Arctic and once again she was tasked in supplying close support for convoys.

In 1943 Jamaica spent this entire year in the escorting of Arctic convoys. In December the cruiser was a unit of the distant Covering Forces for an Arctic convoy, with the battleship HMS Duke of York and four destroyers. On the 22nd German air reconnaissance spotted the convoy, and the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst and five destroyers headed for it. They were intercepted by the Covering Force, consisting of cruisers HMS Belfast, HMS Sheffield, HMS Norfolk and four destroyers. Coming up fast from the south west was Jamaica with the battleship Duke Of York who barred the German battle cruisers way. In a pursuit engagement the British ships obtained some hits with their radar controlled fire, but the Germans superior speed enabled her to out-range her pursuers, but not the British destroyers who managed to obtain four torpedo hits using a skilful pincer attack, this brought the German to a halt. Sharnhorst was battered by gunfire from Jamaica and Duke Of York, and from Belfast and Norfolk who arrived later. The German was once again hit by another ten torpedoes, and sunk in the evening of December 26th. Only 36 survivors were rescued.

During March – April 1944, still in the Arctic, Jamaica Was a unit of a large covering force for the Murmansk convoys. In July an unsuccessful attack was carried out on the German battleship Tirpitz which was lying in Kaafjord. Jamaica was part of the covering force for the carriers HMS Formidable and HMS Indefatigable. In September she was once again involved with Arctic convoy operations. In October Jamaica and two destroyers carried out the provisioning of Spitzbergen.

During a refit in 1945 Jamaica had her X turret removed and increased anti-aircraft armament was fitted. In September she joined the 5th Cruiser Squadron of the East Indies Fleet.

In February 1946 Jamaica became a member of the 4th Cruiser Squadron, based at the same station. On August 19th, she was dry docked at Simonstown, South Africa for the removal of a rudder and a general refit. On October 4th she was undocked and on the 25th she entered the wet dock for one day to carry out an inclination experiment. In November 1947 Jamaica returned to the U.K. In August 1948 Jamaica joined the America and West Indies Station as a member of the 8th Cruiser Squadron.

In July 1949 Jamaica arrived at the Far East Station on loan to the 5th Cruiser Squadron for participation in the Korean war. On 25 June 1950 while Jamaica was on passage to Hong Kong, heavy fighting broke out between North and South Korea. On the 29th, she rendezvoused with the cruiser HMS Belfast and a frigate, after receiving orders from Command Naval Forces Far East, she was dispatched with two frigates to the coast of Korea where she joined a United Nations support force under Rear Admiral Higgins. On July 2nd, Jamaica and the American cruiser Juneau were patrolling together near Chumunjin when four Korean MTB`s were detected escorting about ten fishing trawlers. The MTB`s were destroyed by the cruisers, and three trawlers were sunk. Light artillery opened up from the shore, and the warships were forced to withdraw. After this action Jamaica set out for Sasebo, where she was refuelled, and then she relieved USS Juneau in the Chumunjin area. Bombardments of various coastal targets were carried out in an attempt to slow down the Communist invasion. On the 7th, together with the frigate HMS Hart and the US destroyer USS Lyman K. Swenson she bombarded Yangyang in North Korea itself. On the 8th, Jamaica and Swenson moved south where there were suitable cliff roads for bombardment. Moving at only 6 knots to gain accuracy, Jamaica was taken under fire by a hidden 76.2 mm gun battery which scored a hit on the starboard tripod of the mainmast, killing two and wounding others. The Communist guns were soon silenced, and the two ships returned to their original targets. In September planning was in progress for the landing at Inchon, which was to turn the tide of the war against the North Koreans. This was kept an American affair, but the 6 inch guns of Jamaica and her sister ship HMS Kenya were a valuable addition to the gunfire support groups of the American Task Force. On the 13th, the bombardment began, using Firefly aircraft from the carrier HMS Triumph as spotters, and on the 14th, the peninsula of Walmindo, the first objective of the landing forces, had been silenced. On the 15th, Jamaica and Kenya teamed up with the two US heavy cruisers USS Rochester and USS Toledo, and opened fire on Walmi-do. Each British cruiser had one spotting Firefly allocated to her. The bombardment went on at intervals all day, the Triumph providing three pairs of Firefly`s in constant rotation. The attempt was made to limit fire to known military targets, and Jamaica succeeded in hitting an ammunition dump with spectacular results. On the 17th, just before 0600, two aircraft appeared overhead, they were initially mistaken for “friendlies”, but as the first approached the USS Rochester it dived and released two bombs, which fell astern. The second also dropped a bomb that landed on the American cruisers crane, but failed to explode. The two North Korean machines, a Yak-9 and a Shlurmovik then made for Jamaica which had already opened fire, as the Shlurmovik flew over the cruiser it raked her port side with gunfire, and one sailor was killed and two others injured. One machine gun bullet had penetrated the 1 inch armour protecting the rear of the 6 inch gun turret, grazing and surprising the one rating occupying the turret at the time. The aircraft was badly hit however, and was brought down, while the more nimble Yak got away. At the end of the Korean bombardment the Jamaica`s guns crews had fired 1,290 rounds of 6 inch ammunition and 393 rounds of 4 inch. In February 1951 Jamaica returned to the U.K, and was placed into reserve.

Early 1953 she started a refit. In October she was brought forward to replace the cruiser HMS Swiftsure that had been damaged by collision with the destroyer HMS Diamond. In 1954 Jamaica was transferred to the Home Fleet. Not long after this, she was once again on the move this time to join the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1956 Jamaica was flagship of F02 Mediterranean, she led the amphibious warfare squadron onto the beaches of Port Said, (operation “Musketeer”) having acted as radar picket ship for the Fleet Air Arm and the RAF. In November 1957, her tour of duty completed, the cruiser returned to the U.K. She was decommissioned on the 20th. On 20 December 1960 Jamaica arrived at Dalmuir to be broken up by Arnott Young Ltd.

The ships badge can still be seen painted on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall with the inscription Non Sibi Seb Patria.

 

Commands listed for HMS Jamaica (44)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Jocelyn Latham Storey, RN27 Feb 194212 Dec 1943
2Capt. John Hughes-Hallett, DSO, RN12 Dec 1943Jan 1946

3Capt. Frank Arthur Ballance, DSO, RNOct 1948Mar 1950

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Noteable events involving Jamaica include:


8 Nov 1942
HMS Jamaica assisted in the invasion of North Africa. She was part of the Centre Task Force (Oran area).

30 Dec 1942
On 30 December 1942 the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper attacked convoy JW.51B and was held at bay by the British destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Obedient, HMS Obdurate and HMS Orwell. When renewing her attack she was engaged by the British cruisers HMS Sheffield and HMS Jamaica and was badly damaged them. The only success of the operation was the sinking of the destroyer HMS Achates and the minesweeper HMS Bramble, the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Obedient, HMS Obdurate and HMS Orwell were damaged in the action.

26 Dec 1943
Assisted the British battleship HMS Duke of York, and other vessels in the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst on 26 December 1943.
Finally HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hughes-Hallett, DSO, RN) was ordered in to sink the heavily damaged Scharnhorst with torpedoes.


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