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Sister ships: CAVENDISH, EFFINGHAM, FROBISHER, RALEIGH
Pennant Number: I.86 (flag superior changed to D in 1940)
Notes: Often referred to as "Improved BIRMINGHAM's", the CAVENDISH class bore very little resemblance to those ships. Their hulls were actually based on the "light BC" FURIOUS. They were designed with the threat of German commerce raiding cruisers in mind; Admiralty called for a new light cruiser, able to seek out and destroy enemy raiders in any part of the world. Engagements with German raiders during the early part of World War I had often turned into chases, with the raiders attempting to escape their pursuers; hence, the desire to not only strike at long ranges, but to quickly damage their targets and not allow them to escape. While original design studies called for as many as 14 6" guns, or a "mixed" armament of two 9.2" and eight 6" guns, it was decided to arm them with a new 7.5" gun, capable of firing at a range of 22,000 yards. With their long forecastles and high freeboards, the CAVENDISH class were regarded as a fine sea boats. However, their 7.5" guns were very cumbersome, with hand loading for a very heavy shell (200 lbs.). During her trials, HAWKINS reached a speed of 28.7 knots, which was deemed acceptable as modifications during construction had added nearly 900 tons to her designed weight.
Upon completion, HAWKINS served as Flagship for the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron, China Station. Two 4" QF HA guns replaced the 3" LA guns in 1924; two more were added in 1927. In 1925, it was proposed to re-arm HAWKINS with 6 - 8" guns in three twin turrets, but that would have raised her weight to over 10,000 tons, which would have been in violation of treaty; Admiralty decided that "tonnage" would be better used if allotted to new construction. HAWKINS was converted to burn oil fuel only in 1930; her coal bunkers were removed and oil bunkerage increased to 2,740 tons. In accordance with the 1930 London Treaty, the 7.5" guns were removed in 1936, but they were reinstalled in 1939, prior to the outbreak of World War II. The four above-water torpedo tubes were also removed at that time. By 1945, 2 quadruple and 2 single 2-pdr. "pom-poms" had been added, as well as 9 - 20mm AA guns. HAWKINS was in service as a cadet training ship at the outbreak of the war. She served in the South Atlantic through 1941; with the Eastern Fleet 1942-44; Home Fleet 1944; as a training ship in 1944-45; she was placed in Reserve following end of World War II. HAWKINS was sold for breaking up in August, 1947.