fighting ships of the world



CHATHAM light cruisers (1912-1916)

Southampton 1913

Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Chatham (RNZN) 37, 38, 18   Chatham DYd 3/1/1911 9/11/1911 12/1912 sold for BU 7/1926
Dublin 68, 57, 42 503 Beardmore, Dalmuir 3/1/1911 9/11/1911 3/1913 sold for BU 7/1926
Southampton 89, 9A, 35 407 John Brown, Clydebank 6/4/1911 16/5/1912 11/1912 sold for BU 7/1926
Melbourne (RAN) 86, 93 772 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 14/4/1911 30/5/1912 1/1913 sold for BU 12/1928
Sydney (RAN) A1, 52 358 London & Glasgow Co, Glasgow 11/2/1911 29/8/1912 6/1913 sold for BU 1929
Brisbane (RAN)   7 Cockatoo DYd, Australia 25/1/1913 30/9/1915 11/1916 sold for BU 6/1936


Displacement normal, t


Displacement full, t


Length, m


Breadth, m


Draught, m


No of shafts


Southampton: 2


Parsons steam turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers

Southampton: Brown-Curtis steam turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers

Power, h. p.


Max speed, kts


Fuel, t

coal 1240 + oil 260

Endurance, nm(kts) 4500(16)
Armour, mm

belt: 51 on 25mm plating, deck: 38 - 10, CT: 102, gun shields: 102


8 x 1 - 152/50 BL Mk XI, 4 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 2 - 533 TT (beam, sub)



Ship project history: In the three cruisers authorised for 1911 the weaknesses of the preceding classes were eliminated. On virtually the same dimensions seakeeping was improved by extending the forecastle aft for more than two-thirds of the length, and some side protection was worked in, all at the cost of only a slight increase in beam. A reduction in metacentric height also reduced rolling and improved shooting. The protective deck of the Bristol and Weymouth designs was retained, but only to maintain watertight integrity (10mm over most of its length, 19mm over machinery and 38mm over the steering gear). A shell penetrating this deck would still have to penetrate three decks first, and would probably have detonated by the time it reached the so-called 'splinter deck'. The weight saved on deck plating was devoted to a 51mm waterline belt of nickel steel on 25mm shell plating. The protection thus became part of the main structure of the ship, enabling weight to be saved on framing. As this arrangement of double plating could not be given a double curvature the midships section in the new design was slab-sided. There had been dissatisfaction with the high-velocity Mk.XI 152mm gun, and so the new cruisers had to be reverted to a RGF-designed 45cal lower-velocity gun, the Mk XII. It had the advantage of shooting more accurately and being nearly 2t lighter, with virtually the same range (12,700m), but only cruisers of 1912 Programme (Birmingham class) received new guns.
    The Chatham class could easily be distinguished from the Weymouths by their long forecastle deck and the 'plough' bow.

Protection: Armoured belt protected ship at full length, its thickness was 76mm (summary) abreast machinery spaces and 51mm at ship ends. It extended to main deck (and to upper deck abreast machinery). Protective deck was 19mm thick over machinery and 38mm over steering gear. Its thickness over other ship parts was 10mm.

Modernizations: 1915, all: + 1 x 1 - 76/45 20cwt QF Mk I

1918, Dublin, Melbourne, Sydney, Southampton: CT was removed; + flying-off platform and 1 airplane

1919, Dublin, Melbourne, Sydney, Southampton: - flying-off platform and plane

Naval service: Sydney 9/11/1914 sunk German light cruiser Emden. Southampton sunk German cruiser Frauenlob and torpedo boat S35 at Jutland. Brisbane served as TS since 1928. 

Sydney 1920

Ivan Gogin, 2014