top of page

           HMS Penelope was one of eight Arethusa-class light cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1910s.

She fought in the First World War.


The Arethusa-class cruisers were intended to lead destroyer flotillas and defend the fleet against attacks by enemy destroyers. The ships were 456 feet 6 inches (139.1 m) long overall, with a beam of 49 feet 10 inches (15.2 m) and a deep draught of 15 feet 3 inches (4.6 m). Displacement was 5,185 long tons (5,268 t) at normal and 5,795 long tons (5,888 t) at full load. Penelope was powered by four Parsons steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, which produced a total of 40,000 indicated horsepower (30,000 kW). The turbines used steam generated by eight Yarrow boilers which gave her a speed of about 28.5knots (52.8 km/h; 32.8 mph). She carried 840 long tons (853 t) tons of fuel oil that gave a range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph).


The main armament of the Arethusa-class ships was two BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk XII guns that were mounted on the centreline fore and aft of the superstructure and six QF 4-inch Mk V guns in waist mountings. They were also fitted with a single QF 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in)) anti-aircraft gun and four 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes in two twin mounts.


She was launched on 25 August 1914 at Vickers Limited's shipyard. Unlike her sisters, she carried an extra 4-inch anti-aircraft gun in place of two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns. In August 1915, she was assigned to the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron of the Harwich Force, guarding the eastern approaches to the English Channel. On 25 April 1916 Penelope was damaged by a torpedo from the German submarine UB-29 off the Norfolk coast. She was repaired and in March 1918 was reassigned to the 7th Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet. She survived to the end of the First World War, and was sold for scrap in October 1924 to Stanlee shipbreaking company of Dover.


HMS Penelope was an Arethusa class light cruiser that was based at Harwich during the First World War. She entered service in December 1914, as part of the Harwich Light Cruiser Squadron, before joining the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron, still at Harwich in August 1915.

While with the 5th LCS, Penelope took part in the March 1916 raid on the German base at Hoyer (Sylt). On 25 April 1916 she was one of the ships sent to sea to track down the German ships that had attacked Lowestoft. She was hit by a torpedo from UB 29, which destroyed her rudder and steering gear, but she was still able to maintain 20kts, and reached home in safety. Commodore Tyrwhitt, commander of the Harwich force, was not allowed to make his way to sea during the battle of Jutland, so Penelope took no part in that battle.

In January 1917 she took part in an operation launched by the Harwich Force to intercept German destroyers sailing to Zeebrugge. The operation failed, partly because the captains involved came from both Harwich and the Grand Fleet, and Tyrwhitt had not had time to train them all to anticipate his wishes.

In June 1917 Penelope was one of the ships involved in the bombardment of the German base at Ostend. In November 1917 she was converted to carry 70 mines, laying 210 mines over three trips.

In March 1918 she was transferred to the 7th LCS of the Grand Fleet, and was present at the surrender of the High Seas Fleet. After the war she entered the Nore Reserve, before being placed on the disposal list in 1921.

bottom of page