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Pennant Number: 75
Notes: The LEANDER class light cruisers were the first single-funneled cruisers to have been built by the Royal Navy since the 1880's. This single streamlined funnel not only helped to reduce backdraught, but made it more difficult for an enemy to identify and acquire a good range. They were also the first cruisers in the Royal Navy to make extensive use of welding in the hulls, which reduced weight considerably. The 6" were capable of 60° of elevation, and were hand-loaded. The single 4" mounts replaced by twin 4" DP mounts in 1938, while the saluting guns removed early in World War II. Two 4-barreled "pom-poms" added in 1941; those were replaced by two quad 40mm Bofors AA mounts in 1943, and various single 20mm AA added. The LEANDER class were regarded as good sea boats, but very wet -- a problem that plagued them throughout their careers.
In 1937, LEANDER was loaned to the New Zealand Division, and served in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. On 27 February 1941, LEANDER sunk the Italian raider RAMB I near the Maldives. LEANDER had her catapult and aircraft removed in a refit at Alexandria in June, 1941; a quadruple "pom-pom" took its place. However, the "pom-pom" was removed, and the catapult and aircraft re-installed at New Zealand late in 1941; at this same time, five single 20mm AA guns were added. During a refit early in 1943, the catapult and aircraft were once again removed, and four single 20mm AA guns were added. On 13 July 1943, while attached to the United States Navy and serving with Rear Admiral Walden Ainsworth's TG 36.1 (consisting of the light cruisers HONOLULU, ST. LOUIS and LEANDER, along with ten destroyers), LEANDER took part in the Battle of Kolombangara in the Solomons. During the battle, LEANDER fired twenty - eight-gun salvoes at the Japanese force (consisting of the light cruiser JINTSU and nine destroyers, four of which were laden as transports). While maneuvering to avoid torpedoes, LEANDER was unsuccessful and took a single 24" torpedo hit on her port side, abreast the funnel. She was soon dead in the water and listing heavily to port. Fortunately, her damage control teams were excellent; the list was soon corrected and LEANDER returned to port under her own power. She was repaired at Boston in the USA. Her "X" 6" turret was removed; in its place two quadruple 40mm Bofors AA guns were fitted. However, repairs took 25 months to complete (she returned to active duty on 27 August 1945); by that time, World War II was over.
Following World War II, LEANDER was considered to be "too old" for modernization, and she was decommissioned by the Royal Navy in February, 1948. She was sold for scrap on 15 December, 1949, and broken up at Blyth early in 1950.
(Additional information from "The LEANDER and SYDNEY Class Cruisers" by Keith McBride; WARSHIP 1997-1998, pp. 167-181.)