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Pennant Number: 24
Notes: The SOUTHAMPTON class were larger than the preceding ARETHUSA class and more in line with light cruisers being built by other navies. The 6" triple mountings were capable of 45° elevation. The armored belt was raised to the upper deck as in the PERTH class light cruisers, but was more extensive along the waterline (although it did not cover the 6" ammunition spaces). There was a hangar behind the bridge which could store two aircraft, and an athwartships catapult was mounted. Tactical diameter was 780 yards at 14 knots. During World War II, all of the class had their AA armaments augmented, and all except SOUTHAMPTON (which had been sunk in 1941) had their "X" turret removed and replaced with additional AA guns.
At the beginning of World War II, SHEFFIELD was serving with the 18th Cruiser Squadron, patrolling the Denmark Straits. She was involved in the search for the German battleship BISMARCK in May, 1941, and narrowly avoided being torpedoed by Swordfish torpedo planes launched from the ARK ROYAL (who mistook her for the BISMARCK). SHEFFIELD struck a mine near Iceland on 3 March 1942 while escorting a convoy to Russia; repairs took nearly five months. While escorting another convoy to Russia, SHEFFIELD was involved in the Battle of the Barents Sea on 31 December 1942; during the battle, SHEFFIELD and JAMAICA engaged and sunk the German destroyer FRIEDRICH EKHOLDT (Z-16). Following serving with British forces in the Bay of Biscay in early 1943, SHEFFIELD returned to Arctic waters and was involved in the Battle of the North Cape on 26 December 1943, where British forces sunk the German battlecruiser SCHARNHORST. She also served as an escort for carrier forces which attacked the German battleship TIRPITZ in April and August, 1944. Following that, SHEFFIELD sailed to Boston for an extensive refit, and did not return to duty until the middle of 1946. During her post-war years, SHEFFIELD served in the West Indies, the Mediterranean and in Home waters and became the flagship of the Home Fleet in January, 1959; she served in that duty until September, 1964, when SHEFFIELD was placed on the disposal list. Her equipment was removed at Rosyth in 1967, and SHEFFIELD was broken up at Faslane later that year. Her bell and battle ensign are preserved at the Sheffield Cathedral in Sheffield, England.