Leander was the name ship for a class of five light cruisers fitted with twin turret 6-inch guns. Her sister ships were Achilles, Neptune, Orion, Ajax. In World War Two she sank the Italian Ramb I on the 27 January 1941. Leander rescued all the survivors, which comprised all but one of the crew, one later died of wounds. After more escort work she left for the Mediterranean joining in the fleet in Alexander in June 1941.Ship details:
Builder: HM Naval Dockyard, Devonport UK
Laid down: 8 September 1930
Launched: 24 September 1931
Completed: 23 March 1933
Dimensions: 169 x 16.9 x 6.1m (554.5 x 55.3 x 20ft)
Displacement: 7030 tonnes
Machinery: 4 shaft, geared turbines shp 72,000 = 32 knots
Complement: 550 officers and ratings
8 x 6 inch (152mm) Guns in 4 twin turrets
4 x 4 inch (102mm) Guns single mounts
8 x 21 inch (553mm) Torpedo Tubes 2 x quad mounts
After 1943 refit 6 x 6 inch (152mm) guns
8 x 4 inch guns (102mm) guns
Many 20mm Oerlikon guns
8 x 21 inch (553mm) Torpedo Tubes
Aircraft: 1 x Supermarine Walrus [landed 1940]
Kula Gulf 1943
Qui Patitur Vincit [who suffers conquers]
There have been six ships to carry the name Leander. The ship that served with the RNZN was the fifth ship to carry the name. The ship’s badge design is from the coat of arms for Admiral Sir Thomas Thompson who commanded the first Leander at the Battle of the Nile. It was designed by Major ffoulkes for the class of cruisers and was approved by the Admiralty on 15 April 1930.
Leander lived in Anatoylia and used to swim across the Dardanelles each night to visit his lover, Hero, who was a priestess of Aphrodite in Sestos. One night while swimming he drowned and in her grief Hero flung herself into the sea.
Leander was the name ship for a class of five light cruisers fitted with twin turret 6-inch guns. Her sister ships were Achilles, Neptune, Orion, Ajax. After completion at the Naval Dockyard at Devonport she was commissioned into service with the Royal Navy on 23 March 1933. Leander was acquired on loan from Britain, along with HMS Achilles to replace the D-class cruisers HMS Diomede and Dunedin. As a result of the acquisition of these two new cruisers, the expansion of dockyard and naval base facilities was begun and the Calliope drydock was lengthened.
Leander commissioned for New Zealand service at Devonport on 30 April 1937. During her workup she attended the George VI’s Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead on 20 May 1937. She departed the UK on 2 July 1937 and came through the Panama Canal and stopped off Pitcairn Island. She arrived at Auckland on 18 August 1937. After her arrival she toured New Zealand ports. The cruisers Achilles and Leander were popular with the reservists for extended sea training. Leander was the favourite, Achilles being found to be an unfriendly ship to Reservists.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Leander departed Auckland on 30 August 1939 for Fanning Island in the central Pacific, to land a small garrison. She was then involved escorting troop ships to Australia up to May 1940. Leander joined the East Indies Station at Port Sudan on 4 June 1940 for convey protection in the Red Sea and Aden regions. An Italian submarine, ashore south of Massawa, Eritrea, was shelled and destroyed by Leander on 27 June 1940. On 21 October 1940 two Italian destroyers were engaged in a short exchange off Massawa.
In January 1941 she transferred to Colombo for operations against enemy raiders. She sank the Italian Ramb I on the 27 January 1941. Leander rescued all the survivors, which comprised all but one of the crew, one later died of wounds. After more escort work she left for the Mediterranean joining in the fleet in Alexander in June 1941. She engaged Vichy French destroyers and came under attack by German aircraft on several occasions, fortunately without being damaged. After another period of operations in support of Cyprus, Leander formed a part of the escorts for ships bound for Australia, eventually arriving in Wellington on 8 September 1941. Her deployment had lasted 16 months. She would be the only ship serving with the RNZN to serve in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans during the Second World War.
With the entry of Japan in to the war Leander saw much service escorting troop transports and supply ships to and from New Zealand, Australia, Noumea, New Hebrides, Fiji and other Pacific Islands. This all lead up to the Guadalcanal landings in the Solomon Islands on 7 August 1942 by the US Marines – Operation WATCHTOWER. Leander joined United States Navy vessels in the Guadalcanal area in mid September as part of Task Force 67. However, on 19 November a crack was found in the hull, requiring the ship to return to Auckland for urgent repairs. She became operational again in March 1943 and was engaged mainly in escort duties as far afield as Pearl Harbour and Bora Bora.
On the 11 July 1943 Leander joined a US Task Force at Espiritu Santo. While in the Kula Gulf off New Georgia on the night of the 12-13 July a Japanese force was encountered. Leander was hit midships by a 24-inch torpedo, which killed 28 men and wounded fifteen, three seriously. By superb damage control the ship was able toproceed to Tulagi, where temporary repairs were affected, enabling a return to Auckland on 29 July. The Leander won a battle honour for her part in the Kula Gulf action. The damage sustained was beyond the capacity of the dockyard to repair and on 25 November 1943 Leander departed Auckland for Boston, arriving there on the 23 December. Repairing and refitting Leander was to take 21 months and the ship was paid off from the Royal New Zealand Navy on 8 May 1944. She was replaced by HMS Gambia and Leander’s ship’s company was transferred to commission the new cruiser for service with the RNZN. After her repairs, she rejoined the Royal Navy. She was decommissioned in 1949 and sold for breaking up.