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Sister ships: EMERALD; EUPHRATES cancelled
Pennant Number: I.52
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. As an experiment, ENTERPRISE had two of her 6" guns in a turret (of the same design as had been fitted to the battleships NELSON and RODNEY), located forward; the other five were in the "traditional" single mounts. The twin mounting proved so successful, that it was used in the following LEANDER and ARETHUSA class light cruisers. In a refit in 1928-29, the triple torpedo tubes were replaced by quadruple mounts, giving ENTERPRISE a torpedo battery of 16 tubes. In a refit in 1934-36, ENTERPRISE was fitted with a catapult and seaplane (at one time, the ENTERPRISE carried an American-made "Kingfisher" seaplane, the only British cruiser to do so (Raven and Roberts, BRITISH CRUISERS OF WORLD WAR II, p. 243; see Bibliography); 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.
ENTERPRISE served with the Atlantic Fleet as a convoy escort, before being assigned to Home Fleet in 1940. In March, 1941, two 6" guns were removed, and a quadruple "pom-pom" was added. Following deployment in the south Atlantic, she was sent to the East Indies in 1941-42, then transferred to the Eastern Fleet through December, 1941. Upon return to home waters, ENTERPRISE was refitted at Clyde; the 6" guns previously removed were re-installed, the two aft banks of torpedo tubes were removed, and her anti-aircraft armament was augmented with another quad "pom-pom" and 12-20mm AA guns in twin mounts. She was once again assigned to Home Fleet. On 28 December 1943, ENTERPRISE and the light cruiser GLASGOW engaged a force of four German destroyers escorting blockade runners off the coast of France and sunk three of them (Z-27, T-25 and T-26). ENTERPRISE continued in service until late in 1944, when she was placed in Reserve. ENTERPRISE was scrapped at Newport in April, 1946. Flag superior changed to "D" in 1940.