HMS Lion (C34)

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File:HMS Lion (C34).png
HMS Lion underway
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Lion
Ordered: 1942 Additional Naval Programme
Laid down: 6 June 1942
Launched: 2 September 1944
Commissioned: 20 July 1960
Decommissioned: December 1972
Out of service: Used as a parts hulk for sister ships from 1973
Fate: Sold for scrap 12 February 1975
General characteristics
Class & type: Tiger-class light cruiser
  • 11,560 tons as built
  • 12,080 tons after conversion
  • 555.5 ft (169.3 m) overall
  • 538 ft (166 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 64 ft (20 m)
Draught: 21 ft (6.4 m)
  • Four Admiralty-type three drum boilers (400 psi)
  • Four shaft Parsons steam turbines
  • 80,000 shp
Speed: 31.5 knots (58 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nautical miles (14,816 km) at 16 kn (30 km/h)
Complement: 716
  • Four × 6 in guns (2 × 2)
  • Six × 3 in (3 × 2)

HMS Lion was a light cruiser of the Royal Navy, originally ordered in 1942 as one of the Minotaur-class and laid down that same year as Defence by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company at Greenock in Scotland on 6 June 1942.

Design and construction

Partially complete, Lion was launched on 2 September 1944 by Lady Edelson, but work was suspended in 1946. The cruiser was further advanced than the two other Tigers and the new Mk 24 triple six inch turrets for all three Tiger-class ships were 75-80% complete[1] Still named Defence, she was laid up at Gareloch. Construction of Defence and two other cruisers was later resumed to a revised Tiger-class design. Defence was renamed Lion in 1957 and construction continued at the Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson yards at Wallsend.

Service history

She was finally commissioned in July 1960, having been rushed into service with some shortcuts in the engineering department, due to political pressure to get her to sea. Initial trials were disrupted by severe rotor, turbine and vibration problems and a further three months in Portsmouth dockyard were required before she became fully operational in February 1961.[2]

Lion's first commission included a Mediterranean leg covering some 20,500 miles[3] in 1961. In the latter part of that year she headed to South America and returned to Plymouth in 1962.

Lion recommissioned at Devonport for service in the Home Fleet and Far East on 31 July 1962 and sailed to the Mediterranean for work-up at the end of November. She reached the Far East in March 1963 and was present at the Malaysia Independence celebrations in September. She subsequently visited Australia before returning to the UK via the Suez Canal. In early 1964, Lion took part in major NATO and other national exercises; she then visited Spain and Portugal before returning to the UK.

In September 1964 Lion was present at the Maltese Independence celebrations. Earlier that year she had been rammed under the Forth Road Bridge by the frigate Lowestoft. Emergency repairs were carried out in Rosyth dockyard before she sailed for Malta with only hours to spare. Early in 1965, Lion was present at the Gambian Independence ceremony on Bathurst, now Banjul. The ship was present at Portsmouth Navy Days in August 1965,[4] before being decommissioned into the reserve at Devonport until 1972, when she was placed on the disposal list.

Plans to convert Lion along the lines of her sisters Tiger and Blake were rejected as too costly. On 15 May 1973, she arrived at Rosyth and was subsequently stripped of parts and equipment for use in Tiger and Blake. Lion was sold for breaking up on 12 February 1975 for £262,500. On 24 April 1975 she arrived at Inverkeithing where she was scrapped by Wards. Some equipment from her was salvaged and sold to Peru for use in their former British Crown Colony-class cruisers.

Commanding Officers

From To Captain
1960 1962 Captain J E Scotland DSC RN
1962 1964 Captain Ian McGeoch RN
1965 1965 Captain E F Hamilton-Meikle MBE RN
1966 1966 Captain G D Van Someren RN[5]


  1. The new turrets slightly improved, 60 degree DP, RPC, power rammed and with a powered breech, versions of the standard RN triple six inch structures fitted, from Belfast in 1939 to Superb in 1945, with a rate of fire 5-8 rpm ( N.Friedman. British Cruisers of WW2 and After. Seaforth. UK (2010))superior at range to the other triple RN six inch mounts with direct triple flow from the magazine to each gun in the turret. These RN guns, like the US Cleveland and the Soviet Sverdlov mounts, fired at 5-6 rounds per minute (rpm) at full elevation and up to 12 rpm at low elevation. From sources such as N.Freidman - British Cruisers (2010), it appears the Mk 24 was an interim mid-1940s build intended for the Tigers and HMS Hawke,and enlarged Belfast cruisers of about 15,000 tons. The Mk 24 were not used, because by 1949 a decision had been made against their DC power, and Lion was stripped for refitting for AC and postwar Soviet jet aircraft made there anti-aircraft capabilities obsolete compared with the fully automatic Mk 26 approved in 1954 which looked useful to politicians and Treasury and manning requirements of manual and semi-automatic cruiser turrets were unacceptable post war.
  2. HMS LION First Commission 1960-62.
  3. Commissioning Book, HMS Lion, HMSO, 1960-1962
  4. Programme, Portsmouth Navy Days, 28–30 August 1965, HMSO, p12
  5. Navy List, HMSO, 1966