Tuesday, September 25, 2007
HMS Apollo/HMAS Hobart
The HMS Apollo was one of three 7,105-ton “Modified Leander class” light cruisers built in England for the Royal Navy. The Apollo was built at Devonport, England, and was commissioned in January 1936. She carried eight 6-inch guns, eight 4-inch guns, eight 21-inch torpedo tubes, and had a maximum speed of 32 knots. The “Modified Leander class” was almost identical to the original Leander class of light cruisers except that her main engines were arranged in a different manner, resulting in two instead of one funnel being used on board the ship. The Modified Leanders were also slightly bigger, with a length of 562 feet and a beam of almost 57 feet. While in the Royal Navy, the HMS Apollo was assigned to the North American and West Indies Station and then, in September 1938, she was transferred to the Australian Navy. She was renamed the HMAS Hobart (after a city in Tasmania) and arrived in Australia in December 1938.
The Hobart participated in various patrols and naval exercises until the start of World War II. After the war started in September 1939, the Hobart patrolled off the coast of Australia and the East Indies, and sailed in the Indian Ocean to protect troop convoys. Because of her speed and range, the Hobart was also used to search for enemy surface raiders, which were a major problem for Allied merchant convoys early in the war. In April 1940, she was sent to the Red Sea for several months to fight against Italian forces in the area and then was ordered to the Mediterranean in August 1941. While in the Mediterranean, the Hobart supported the British campaign in North Africa, reinforced the Island of Cyprus and assisted in operations against Syria.
Once war began with Japan in the Pacific on December 7, 1941, the Hobart was sent back to the Pacific and would spend the rest of the war there. The Hobart participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, acting as part of the covering force for the American aircraft carriers on the scene. She was attacked by eight Japanese twin-engine torpedo bombers and 19 heavy bombers on 7 May, but managed to escape damage by taking highly effective evasive action and providing stiff anti-aircraft fire, which resulted in the destruction of three enemy aircraft.
On 7 August 1942 the Hobart was part of the Cruiser Covering Force for the American assault on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. She successfully evaded tenacious attacks by Japanese bombers and inflicted heavy damage on Japanese forces through accurate shore bombardments and anti-aircraft fire.
The Hobart was then used extensively as an escort in the Coral Sea area, protecting the important South Pacific merchant convoys and guarding New Guinea against enemy surface raiders. On 20 July 1943, while steaming west of the New Hebrides as part of Task Force 74, the Hobart was suddenly hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. Her after hull was badly damaged and there were several casualties, but the sturdy ship remained afloat. The Hobart was escorted for preliminary repairs to Espiritu Santo and then eventually made it to Sydney, Australia, for more extensive and permanent repairs. The Hobart did not return to service until December 1944.
On 24 April 1945, the Hobart supported the landings at Tarakan in Borneo and then on 11 May she supported the Australian assault on Wewak in New Guinea. She also took part in the amphibious landings at Cebu, the Philippines. When Japan finally surrendered on 2 September 1945, the Hobart was part of the Allied fleet in Tokyo Bay.
For almost two years after the war the Hobart took part in the occupation of Japan. The Hobart was decommissioned in December 1947 and placed in reserve. In 1953 she was converted into a training cruiser for the Australian Navy, but this assignment ended in 1956 and she was once again placed in reserve. The HMAS Hobart was sold for scrapping in February 1962 and, in an ironic twist of fate, was broken up for disposal in Japan, the same country that almost destroyed her 19 years earlier.
The HMAS Hobart made a substantial contribution to the Allied war effort during World War II, although few people today know her name. She also escorted many merchant convoys and supported several amphibious assaults. Although these were unglamorous jobs, they were also dangerous jobs that were vital to winning the war in the Pacific. A fine ship with a fine history, the Hobart deserves to be remembered.
Figure 1 (Top): British Light Cruiser HMS Apollo at Miami, Florida, 1 February 1938. This ship later became HMAS Hobart. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2 (Middle, Top): HMAS Hobart (formally HMS Apollo) in a harbor, circa 1938-1939. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3 (Middle, Bottom): HMAS Hobart in a view taken at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, on 23 July 1943, showing damage inflicted when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 20 July. Photographed from off the port side, showing the ship's badly distorted stern and after 6-inch guns. Deck planking has been removed by the ship's crew. Note: the size of the torpedo hole; Jacob's ladder at left; and draft markings at right. Collection of Admiral Harry W. Hill, USN (Retired), 1976. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4 (Bottom): HMAS Hobart in a view taken at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, on 22 July 1943, showing damage inflicted when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 20 July. Photographed on the quarterdeck, looking forward from about 207 frame port side, showing the ship's badly distorted after deck and the after 6-inch gun turrets. Collection of Admiral Harry W. Hill, USN (Retired), 1976. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Posted by Remo at 9:03 AM