Allied Warships

HMS Renown (72)

Battlecruiser of the Renown class


HMS Renown before the Second World War

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeBattlecruiser
ClassRenown 
Pennant72 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Ordered29 Dec 1914 
Laid down25 Jan 1915 
Launched4 Mar 1916 
Commissioned20 Sep 1916 
End service 
History

HMS Renown served with the Grand Fleet in the North Sea during the remaining two years of World War I. In 1920-21, following a refit, she carried the Prince of Wales on a voyage to Australia and America. During 1923-26, she was extensively refitted to increase her protection against gunfire and torpedoes. After a decade of further service, Renown was again reconstructed, greatly changing her appearance and giving her a modern anti-aircraft gun battery, much enhanced aircraft-handling facilities and up-to-date gunfire controls. This work was completed in September 1939, just after the outbreak of the Second World War. Renown's high speed made her a valuable asset during World War II. In late 1939, she was sent to the South Atlantic to search for the German armored ship Admiral Graf Spee. She covered minelaying operations along the Norwegian coast in early April 1940 and, on the 9th of that month, engaged the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, damaging the latter.

Later in 1940 and into 1941, she operated with Force H, based at Gibraltar to provide strategic presence in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean. While with Force H, she participated in a bombardment of Genoa, Italy, in February 1941. After Home Fleet service in 1942-43, Renown was sent to join the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. Operating from Ceylon in 1944-45, she helped contain the Japanese in the East Indies. HMS Renown had brief post-war service in British waters and was sold for scrapping in March 1948. Sold to Metal Industries 19 March 1948 and scrapped at Faslane later in 1948.

 

Commands listed for HMS Renown (72)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Sir Charles Edward Barrington Simeon, RN15 May 193923 Jan 1941
2Capt. Sir Rhoderick Robert McGrigor, RN23 Dec 194026 Aug 1941
3Capt. Charles Saumarez Daniel, DSO, RN26 Aug 19412 Jan 1943
4Capt. William Edward Parry, RN2 Jan 19438 Dec 1943
5Capt. Basil Charles Barrington Brooke, RN8 Dec 19434 Jan 1946

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Noteable events involving Renown include:


2 Dec 1939
The German passenger ship Watussi (9552 GRT) is intercepted in the South Atlantic about 50 nautical miles south of Cape Agulhas, South-Africa by the British battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the British heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt A.R. Hammick, RN). However, before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew.

6 Feb 1941
British raid on Genoa.

Force H (Vice Admiral Somerville) left Gibraltar on 6 February 1941. The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt R.R. McGrigor, RN), battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) left Gibraltar to the west with convoy HG-53. This was done to fool German and Italian observers in Spain. In the meantime 4 destroyers HMS Duncan (Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN) HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) left Gibraltar and steamed to the east to conduct a anti-submarine sweep. During the night Force H reversed course and passed Gibraltar on an easterly course back into the Mediterranean. There they were joined by the 4 destroyers that conducted the anti-submarine sweep.

On 8 February the Italian fleet left port and steamed south after they received reports of British carrier aircraft south of the Balearics. The Italians thought that there was another convoy to Malta.

Early in the morning of 9 February Renown, Malaya and Sheffield bombarded the Italian city of Genoa. In the harbour 4 ships were sunk and 18 were damaged. Also the city itself was damaged.

The Italian fleet turned around and tried to intercept the British ships but due to the bad weather this failed.

In the meantime Ark Royal's aircraft raided Livorno and mined the harbour of La Spezia.

Force H safely returned to Gibraltar on 11 February.

Media links


British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

R. A. Burt


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