HMS California (F 55)
Armed Merchant Cruiser
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Type||Armed Merchant Cruiser|
|Class||[No specific class]|
|Built by||A. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Launched||17 Apr 1923|
|Commissioned||15 Oct 1939|
|End service||1 Apr 1942|
On 25 August 1939 the passenger ship California of the Anchor Line (Henderson Bros) Ltd, Glasgow was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 15 October 1939.
Displacement: 16792 BRT
On 1 April 1942 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).
On 11 July 1943 bombed and badly damaged in a convoy by a German Fw200 aircraft of KG40 about 320 nautical miles west of Oporto. The ship caught fire and was abandoned and scuttled the next day by HMS Douglas in 41°15'N, 15°24'W. 72 dead and 695 survivors.
Commands listed for HMS California (F 55)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Capt. Cuthbert John Pope, RAN||7 Nov 1939||Oct 1941|
|2||A/Capt. Gerald Seymour Tuck, DSO, RN||Oct 1941||23 Dec 1941|
|3||Capt. (retired) Edward Wollaston Kitson, RN||23 Dec 1941||early 1942|
You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.
Notable events involving California include:
18 Nov 1939
The German merchant Borkum (3670 GRT) is captured in the North Atlantic by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN). While en route under her prize crew to Kirkwall in the Orkney's she was torpedoed at 1530 hours on 23 November. She was hit by a torpedo from German U-boat U-33 and was abandoned two days later. The Borkum drifted ashore in Papa Sound and was declared a total loss. On 18 August 1940 she was refloated and towed to Rosyth, where she was broken up.
11 Aug 1940
HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, CBE, RAN) picks up 30 survivors from the British merchant Llanfair that was torpedoed and sunk on 11 August 1940 by German U-boat U-38 200 nautical miles west of Tory Island in position 54°48'N, 13°46'W. One of the survivors died aboard and was buried at sea on 13 August.
5 Dec 1940
The German blockade breaker Klaus Schoke (5830 GRT) was intercepted by HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) in the mid-Atlantic near the Azores. Unfortunately before the German ship can be captured it is scuttled by her own crew.
10 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Greenock. They escorted the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and troopship Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929) in the Clyde area until late afternoon when they separated and proceeded to sea. They were to rendez-vous with several warships that were approaching the U.K. from the west and south.
Rendez-vous was effected around 0800 / 0900 hours on the 12th when the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling all arrived in approximate position 60°50'N, 09°50'W.
HMS Kenya, which had been escorting HMS Argus did not join. She set course for Plymouth where she arrived on the 14th.
HMS Punjabi arrived at Scapa Flow on 14 January 1941. It seems likely she had already been detached before the rendez-vous was effected.
On the 14th HMS Argus, HMS California escorted by HMS Kelvin split off for the Clyde where they arrived later the same day. HMS Kelvin was then ordered to proceed to the Humber to refit for which she departed the next day.
HMS Revenge set course for Portsmouth escorted by HMS Kelly, HMS Kipling.
At 1615/15 HMS Revenge, HMS Kelly and HMS Kipling were joined by HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) which had departed Plymouth at 1030/15.
HMS Revenge and her three escorting destroyers arrived at Portsmouth on the 16th.
30 Mar 1941
HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) picks up 39 survivors from the British merchant Coultarn. that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-69 southwest of Iceland in position 60°18'N, 29°28'W.