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HMS Swiftsure

Class overview
Name: Minotaur-class cruiser
Operators: [2] Royal NavyRoyal Canadian Navy
Preceded by: Crown Colony class
Succeeded by: Tiger class
In commission: 1944 - 1958
Planned: 8
Completed: 3
Cancelled: 5
General characteristics
Type: Light cruiser
Displacement: 8,800 tons standard

11,130 tons full (Superb: 8,885 tons standard 11,560 tons full)

Length: 555.5 ft (169.3 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19 m) (Superb: 64 ft)
Draught: 17.25 ft (5.26 m)
Installed power: 72,500 shp (54.1 MW)
Propulsion: Four Admiralty-type three drum boilers

Four shaft Parsons steam turbines

Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) at 30 knots (60 km/h)

8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h); 1,850 tons fuel oil

Complement: 867
  • 3.25 to 3.5-inch (89 mm) belt
  • 2 inch deck
  • 1 to 2-inch (51 mm) turrets
  • 1.5 to 2-inch (51 mm) bulkheads

The Minotaur class of light cruisers of the Royal Navy, also known as the Swiftsure class, was designed as a modified version of the Crown Colony class incorporating war modifications and authorised in 1941, but, in spite of the heavy toll of cruisers in that year and the following one, the building of this new class had a relatively low priority and only three were completed by the war's end. They played no significant part in the Second World War, though Swiftsure, as flagship of the British Pacific Cruiser Squadron, was selected by Admiral Cecil Harcourt to hoist his flag for the Japanese surrender at Hong Kong. Superb was completed to a slightly different design.

The class was originally to have consisted of eight ships, laid down in 1943, but by the end of the Second World War only Minotaur, Swiftsure, and Superb were complete, whilst the others were laid up. Minotaur was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy and renamed Ontario.

Three of the laid-up vessels were completed in the 1960s as Tiger-class cruisers. Two went on to be further converted into helicopter and command cruisers during the 1970s.


[hide] *1 Modifications


Swiftsure was completed with sixteen twin and six single 20mm guns, but had all the singles and eight of the twin removed in the summer of 1945, when she received, in lieu, eight 40mm Boffins and five single 40mm Bofors Mk III. HMCS Ontario (ex-Minotaur) was completed with the same close-range outfit as Swiftsure, and is reported to have had an outfit of six 40mm and six 20mm guns at the end of the war, all in single mountings. Superb was not completed until after the end of hostilities, and had a close-range outfit consisting of eight single 40mm Mk III, two single 2 pounders, four twin hand-operated 20mm and two single 20mm guns. After a collision between HMS Swiftsure and the destroyer HMS Diamond in the West Indies in 1952, the Swiftsure was largely rebuilt to the pattern of the Tiger class reconstruction in 1957-9. The work on the Swiftsure was largely complete. The new automatic 76mm twin guns were not installed because they had been sold to Canada, because most of the stock of 76mm twin were regarded as rebundant due to a decision to rely on missiles for air defence and because the new 76mm mounts had not been ready to go on the strike carrier Victorious when it was completed in early 1958 and had been replaced by slightly lower performance, USN twin 76mm mounts. The modernisation of the Suberb to Tiger standards had been cancelled and therefore it was regarded as better to sell all the surplus 76mm twin mounts to Canada for frigate installation rather than retain a few for Swiftsure. Also a huge political controversy had broken out about the cost of the Tiger cruiser modernisation, ( rumoured to total about 35 million pounds) and problems with the new automatic guns jamming, problems rectified by 1958-9 but only after terminal damage had been done to the political credibility of the project. The completion of Lion and Tiger was in real danger of being stopped in early 1960 and that is why Swiftsure conversion proposals were abandoned. In 1959-60 the Royal Navy fought hard to retain the SWiftsure to a new modernisation pattern as a Cruiser - helicopter carrier to a design which was largely implemented a decade later on its half sisters HMS Tiger and HMS Blake.


  • HMS Minotaur was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on completion in 1944 and renamed HMCS Ontario. She was decommissioned in 1959 and scrapped in 1960.
  • HMS Swiftsure was launched in 1943 and served with the Royal Navy in the Far East. She was scrapped in 1962.
  • HMS Superb was built to a modified design and launched in 1943. She was scrapped in 1960.
  • HMS Hawke was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on 1 July 1943, but construction was cancelled on 15 October 1945 and she was broken up on the slipway.
  • HMS Tiger was renamed and laid down as Bellerophon at the Tyne yards of Vickers-Armstrong in August 1944, then renamed Blake, and then finally renamed Bellerophon again. Construction was cancelled in March 1946 and she was broken up.
  • HMS Blake was renamed Tiger, and then Blake again and finally completed as a Tiger-class cruiser.
  • HMS Defence was renamed Lion and completed as a Tiger-class cruiser.
  • HMS Bellerophon was renamed Tiger and completed as a Tiger-class cruiser.


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