HMS BERMUDA 1939-1965
Index, Introduction, Organisation and Routines
Year-by-year accounts of the life of this Royal Navy cruiser that begins at John Brown's Clydebank Shipyard in 1939 and follows the ship in Russian Convoys, Atlantic Patrols, North African Landings and Pacific war operations. In post-war years service in the Home, South Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets precede her end at Ward's South Wales breakers yard in 1965.
SHIP SPECIFICATIONS Click here
ORGANISATION AND ROUTINES Click here
LAYOUT CUTAWAY PLAN Click here
World War II had begun when HMS BERMUDA(C52) was laid down at John Browns, Clydebank yard in November 1939 from where she was launched in November 1941. Commissioned into war on the 21st of August 1942 she was the last of the eight 'Fiji' class cruisers built and one of six that survived the war. The 'FIJI' was sunk off Crete in May 1941 after just one year in service and the other loss was the 'TRINIDAD' in the Barents Sea on the 14th of May 1942 and seven months after first commissioning.
Driven by four Admiralty 3-drum boilers through Parsons geared turbines to 4 shafts she could be whipped into doing 31 knots with 72000 shp. I dont know how far she could have gone at that speed but full bunkers gave her a range of some 10,000 plus miles at around 12 knots to meet the need for extended support and escort work. Her main armaments were made up of four turrets of triple 6"(152mm) guns with four turrets of twin 4"(102mm) guns on the after funnel deck and a further fourteen 40/20mm guns. Additionally she had six 21"(533mm)torpedo tubes. Some 970 souls tucked themselves into the available corners of her 555'6"(169.3M)overall length 62'(18.9M) beam and 16-21(5-6.4M) feet draught that displaced between 8,000 & 10,500(8128/10,670t)tons.
'BERMUDA' was immediately and proudly 'adopted' by the town of West Bromwich as she set out to join the 10th Cruiser Squadron. With them she was quick to earn her first battle honour as she played her part in Operation TORCH, the North African landings, in November 1942. She came through that unscathed and from there she went back out into the Atlantic on surface escort group activities in Biscay. At the beginning of June '43 she was sent up to the Arctic running men and machines into Spitzbergen.
After that it was back south again and into the Bay of Biscay to join in the air and sea effort to pen in the U-boats operating out of the Bay ports. This was a highly successful operation during which 25 U-boats were sunk. At the same time a further 24 U-boats were sunk by the valiant efforts of escort crews on the North Atlantic convoy routes.
Through the winter of 1943/4 she was back in the cold and miserable Arctic. Then, as the wear and tear of constant running took its toll and the strategists looked to the future she was taken in for refit at Glasgow in June 1944.
When she emerged, in April 1945, with 'X' turret removed and ready for anything, she was despatched to the Pacific as the war in Europe was ending. "At least it's warmer out there" must have been amongst the thoughts of the ship's company but then so too would "just as things are getting better here they send me to the other side of the world". In less than three years of war service 'BERMUDA' had earned battle honours in North Africa, the Arctic and Atlantic and was now on her way to the Pacific theatre. Who said living in the early 21st century is fast and pressured!
She stayed on the other side of the world liberating our prisoners of war and carrying the Flag of the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the Far East until the middle of 1947. Then she returned to the UK and Chatham where a short refit was carried out before she was taken down river to Sheerness and 'Reserve'.
In 1950 she was restored to active service and was sent off on another new adventure this time to the South Atlantic where she wore the flag of Commander in Chief, South Atlantic Station until 1953. Next it was into the Mediterranean Fleet for a couple of years before she took the flag of Flag Officer, Flotillas (Home) in 1955 for a year.
By now there was a very much-reduced number of people in the post-war navy and ship's complements were being pared. People's expectations were also changing and improved living conditions were expected so, in 1956, 'BERMUDA' was paid-off and towed up to Palmer's Shipyard at Hebburn on Tyne to undergo a long refit where both matters would be addressed.
During the last days of that refit I was drafted to HMS BERMUDA and joined her at Palmers on the 16th of September 1957. She was not yet ready to be lived in so 'Digs' in the village of Cleadon, Co. Durham became home as I and an increasing few others enjoyed 'Geordie' hospitality as we readied the ship for sea. In October the ship went into trials and shake-down that continued to the end of 1957.
Having achieved an acceptable standard of efficiency we began a Home/Mediterranean/Home commission that would first take her for the very first time to the Colony of Bermuda and on to the West Indies. After this 'Spring Cruise' a quick stop in UK for Easter Leave 1958 preceded the passage to Malta and twelve months in the Mediterranean Fleet.
Leaving Valletta with full ceremony BERMUDA made for home in March to arrive in Portsmouth just in time for Easter 1959. I went on Leave and Draft to HMS Victory (RNB) and so, a little sadly, permanently parted company with the ship. It made no material difference and she became the flagship of FOF(H) in April 1959 and went off to Scandinavia then Newfoundland and from there on to make her second visit to the Colony. Back home again the rest of the year was spent in Northern European/North Atlantic waters.
Christmas Leave ended on the 2nd of January 1960 to enable the ship to go down to Gibraltar to dock and refit. With the worst of winter over she returned to the UK in April and went about her business in the Home Fleet through the summer. Before Autumn could take a hold the ship was on her way, via West Africa, back to the Mediterranean Fleet for another year.
When BERMUDA returned to the UK in June 1961she was accompanied by the 'Battle' class ships of the 7th Destroyer Squadron bringing to an end their long association with Malta and the Mediterranean Fleet. The commission continued through the rest of 1961 with European exercises, evolutions and visits that included hosting Royalty as well as a return to BERMUDA's first 'home' Scapa Flow. In a very busy year the ship steamed over 27,500 nautical miles (31652 mls / 50,930Km)
A cold and wet English Channel and Portland Sea Training gave way to a third visit for the ship to the Colony of Bermuda in February 1962. On the way back Exercise 'Dawn Breeze' out of Gibraltar sharpened skills still further. Later the ship received Swedish royalty and our own Princess Alexandra at Stockholm. BERMUDA then returned to Portsmouth, this time beneath a long paying-off pennant, to secure firmly on Pitch House Jetty. Soon stores and equipment, ammunition and men were leaving the ship then BELFAST came alongside and in a single log entry on the 2nd of July 1962 the life of the ship was usurped as the majority of the ship's company walked over the brow on transfer to HMS BELFAST.
Her final 'sea-time' came in 1965 when a tug towed her to the River Neath in South Wales where the employees of Thomas Ward, Shipbreakers took her back to sheets of metal. Maybe, just maybe, they gave a thought to those she had been home to through the trials and jubilations in her lifetime.
Pictures: Ship, thanks to David (Stan) Jones (1953/4 commission) and
Bell, John Sedgley, Sec'y RNA West Bromwich (See also 1962-1965 page)
Class: Colony/Fiji (8 ships + 3 Modified Design. See 'Other Ships' below)
Builders: John Brown Clydebank Shipyard Yard Number: 568
Laid down / Launched: 30 November 1939 / 11 September 1941
Commissioned: 5 August 1942. Decommissioned: July 1962. Scrapped: 1965
Callsign / Pennant No: GCQP / C52
Dimensions: Length: 555' 6" (169.3M); Beam: 62' (18.9M); Draught: 16' 6" (5M); Maximum 21' 0" (6.4M).
Displacement: Standard 8525T, Maximum 10450T Machinery: Four Admiralty 3-drum Boilers, Parsons Geared Turbines to Four Shafts producing 72000shp.
Speed: 31.5 knots.
Fuel and Range: 1700T giving 6000+ nautical miles (11112Km) @ 13 knots. Fuel consumption: (Speed/Tons per hour/Miles per ton) 13kts/4.3T/3.0nm; 25/12.6/1.98; 30/23.2/1.29. (1 Ton = 248 gallons/1127 Litres)
Armaments: 12 x 6"(152mm) Guns in four turrets; 8 x 4"(102mm) Guns in four mountings, 14 x 40mm (Twin) Guns; 10 x Single 20mm guns 6 x 21" Torpedo Tubes. 1943 changes added another 6 x 20mm; 1944 Aircraft and & 12 x 20mm guns landed 4/44 replaced with 8 x Twin 20mm power-operated guns. 1944-5 Refit 'X' Turret (3 x 6" Guns) and 4 x Twin 20mm Guns removed and replaced with 3 x Quad 20mm and 4 Single 20mm. installed and Radars updated. 1945 2 x Twin and 2 x Single 20mm removed and replaced with 40mm Bofors Guns in August.
Guns: 6 inch/152mm Breech Loading Mark XXIII, Barrels 25' 9"/7.85M, Shells 112lbs/50.8kg Cordite Charge 30lbs/13.6kg, Up to 8 Rounds per minute, Range Max. 24800 yards/22.7km at 45 elevation. Triple Mounting Weight 135T. Fire Control System - 284/283 Radar
4inch/102mm Quick Firing Mark XVI, Shells 36lbs/16.3kg Cordite 9lbs/4kg, Up to 20 rounds per minute, Range Max. 21300yds/19.5kg at 80 elevation. Twin Mounting weight c.17T. Fire Control Systems 285 Radar
Ship's Belt Armour Protection: Sides 3.5inch/89mm, Deck 2"/51mm
Complement: Wartime 980, Peacetime 750
Aircraft: 2 x Supermarine Walrus (Single Radial Engine; Range 600 mls; Speed 135mph; Crew 3-4) - Removed 4/44.
Battle Honours: North Africa 1942; Arctic 1943; Atlantic 1943.
Other ships in Class (Completion date/demise): FIJI (5/40 - Sunk by German air attack off Crete 5/41), NIGERIA (9/40 - To Indian Navy 1957), KENYA (9/40 - Broken up Faslane 1962)), MAURITIUS (1/41 - Broken up Inverkeithing 1968), TRINIDAD (11/41 - Damaged by German aircraft and sunk by own ships 5/42), GAMBIA (2/42 - RNZ Navy 1943-1948 Broken up at Inverkeithing 1968), JAMAICA (6/42 - Broken up Dalmuir 1960). Modified Design Ships: NEWFOUNDLAND (12/41 - To Peruvian Navy 1959), UGANDA (1/43 - To Royal Canadian Navy 9/1944 Broken up Japan 1961), CEYLON (6/43 - To Peruvian Navy 1960.
Return to top of page Click here OR anywhere on the Sections/Plans below.
ORGANISATION AND ROUTINES
LAYOUT CUTAWAY PLAN (Typical)
This page replaces old HMS Bermuda whose counter rdg was 8460 on 1/12/2007