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Sister ships: ENTERPRISE; EUPHRATES cancelled
Pennant Number: I.66
Notes: Although described as enlarged "D" class light cruisers, the three light cruisers ordered in March, 1918 had their origin in an exaggerated late-1917 staff requirement for ships capable of catching the German cruiser-minelayers of the BRUMMER class. For the first time in years, speed was the primary criterion, and the new ships were to be capable of at least 32 knots in fully loaded conditions. To get the maximum speed, a high length to beam ratio was adopted; in addition, a large (30') freeboard forward was called for, in order to be able to maintain high speed in bad weather. Also for the first time, the boilers were divided into groups in separate boiler rooms, to reduce the risk of the ship being knocked out by a single hit. The machinery was the same as installed in the SHAKESPEARE class flotilla leaders, only doubled to obtain the desired output.
Only three ships were ordered, due to the shortage of labor and materials; when World War I ended, the order for EUPHRATES was cancelled, and work progressed slowly on EMERALD and ENTERPRISE. In a refit in 1928-29, the triple torpedo tubes were replaced by quadruple mounts, giving EMERALD a torpedo battery of 16 tubes. In a refit in 1934-36, EMERALD was fitted with a catapult and seaplane; her mainmast was moved forward of the third funnel (to clear the catapult arc of training), and the funnels raised by 5' to reduce smoke interference. A proposed refit, scheduled for 1940, proposed the removal of one or two 6" guns and the 4" and 2-pdr. AA mounts, and for them to be replaced with three twin 4" HA mounts and two quadruple "pom-poms"; but upon the outbreak of World War II, the refit was first suspended, then abandoned completely.
EMERALD served with the Atlantic Fleet as a convoy escort, 1939-1940, then was transferred to the East Indies, where she served through July, 1942. EMERALD returned to Portsmouth in August, 1942 for refit; a 6" mount, the two aft torpedo mounts, and two of the single "pom-poms" were removed and replaced by two quadruple "pom-poms" and 12-20mm AA guns in twin mounts. Following refit, EMERALD served in the Eastern Fleet through 1944, when she was transferred to Home Fleet. She was placed in reserve in 1945. EMERALD was scrapped at Troon in July, 1948. Flag superior changed to "D" in 1940.