Southampton Class, British Light Cruisers

Photograph of a Southampton class cruiser

Imperial War Museum. Via Wikimedia Commons


Tonnage 9100  tons standard displacement
Dimensions 591'6" by 61'8" by 20'4"
180.20m by 18.79m by 6.20m
Maximum speed       32 knots
Complement 748
3 seaplanes
1 catapult
Armament 4x3 6"/50 guns
4x2 4"/45 dual-purpose guns
2x4 2pdr AA guns
9x1 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
2x3 21" torpedo tubes
Protection 15.7% of displacement
4.5" (114mm) belt
2" (51mm) magazine crowns
1.25" (32mm) deck over machine spaces
2" (51mm) turret roofs
4-shaft Parsons geared turbine (82,500 shp)
4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Bunkerage 2060 tons fuel oil
Range 7700 nautical miles (14,300km) at 13 knots
Type 273 radar
Type 291 radar
Late 1942: Radar suites updated. 10 20mm guns added.
Late 1943: 60 single 20mm guns replaced with 4x2 20mm guns.
Early 1945: One 6" turret removed. Antiaircraft suite upgraded to 7x1, 10x2 20 mm guns and 4x4 40mm Bofors AA guns.

The Southamptons were the first of the "Town" classes, which were a response to Japan's withdrawal from the naval arms limitation treaties and to rumors of Japanese super cruiser designs. The Japanese cruisers reportedly would have 15 6.1" (155mm) guns and 5" (127mm) belt armor on just 8500 tons displacement. Although the British were skeptical this was possible, they attempted to create their own competing design. In fact, while the Mogamis were as heavily armed as reports indicated, they were not as heavily protected, and they were later converted to 8" (203mm) gun heavy cruisers. The British designers concluded that the best that could be done on 8500 tons was 5" protection to machine and magazine spaces and armament of 4x3 6" guns, with a speed of 32 knots, and these became the basic parameters for the final design.

The result was well-armed,  well-protected modern warships that needed little modification during the war, other than the usual updates to the antiaircraft armament and radar. However, their expense limited the numbers that could be built at a time when Britain needed large numbers of cruisers for trade protection. The modifications listed above are representative for the class, with individual ships showing considerable variation.

Units in the Pacific:

Arrived 1942-4
Arrived 1942-4
Withdrawn 1943-4


Whitley (1995)

Worth (2001)

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