Unit Details

HMS Jamaica (C-44)

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HMS Jamaica, Captain Brown commanding, Fiji Class cruiser
See these two articles: HMS Jamaica, HMS  Jamaica and E-Boat Action off the Korean Coast, HMS Jamaica 1950

Career (UK)
Class and type: Crown Colony-class light cruiser
Name: HMS Jamaica
Namesake: Jamaica
Ordered: 1938 Naval Programme
Builder: Vickers-Armstrongs, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down: 28 April 1939
Launched: 16 November 1940
Commissioned: 29 June 1942
Decommissioned: 20 November 1957
Struck: 1960
Fate: Sold for scrap, 14 November 1960

General characteristics (as built)
Displacement: about 8,631 long tons (8,770 t) (standard load)
11,017 long tons (11,194 t) (deep load)
Length: 555 ft 6 in (169.3 m)
Beam: 62 ft (18.9 m)
Draught: 19 ft 10 in (6.0 m)
Installed power: 80,000 shp (60,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 shafts, Parsons geared steam turbines
4 Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers
Speed: 32.25 knots (59.73 km/h; 37.11 mph)
Range: 6,250 nmi (11,580 km; 7,190 mi) at 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Complement: 733 (peacetime), 900 (wartime)
Armament: 4 × 3 - 6-inch Mk XXIII guns
4 × 2 - 4-inch MK XVI AA guns
4 × 2 - 2-pounder AA guns
2 × 3 - 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
Armour: Engine and boiler rooms: 3.25 in (83 mm)
Decks: 2–3.5 in (51–89 mm)
Magazines: 2–3.5 in (51–89 mm)
Gun turrets: 1–2 in (25–51 mm)
Aircraft carried: 2 × Supermarine Sea Otter
Aviation facilities: 1 × catapult, 2 × hangars
Motto: Non sibi sed patriae
(Latin: "Not for oneself, but for one's country")
Nickname: 'The Fighting J'

HMS Jamaica, a Crown Colony-class cruiser of the Royal Navy, was named after the island of Jamaica, which was a British possession when she was built in the late 1930s. The light cruiser spent almost her entire wartime career on Arctic convoy duties, except for a deployment south for the landings in North Africa in November 1942. She participated in the Battle of the Barents Sea in 1942 and the Battle of North Cape in 1943. Jamaica escorted several aircraft carriers in 1944 as they flew off airstrikes that attacked the German battleship Tirpitz in northern Norway. Late in the year she had an extensive refit to prepare her for service with the British Pacific Fleet, but the war ended before she reached the Pacific.

Jamaica spent the late 1940s in the Far East and on the North America and West Indies Station. When the Korean War began in 1950 she was ordered, in cooperation with the United States Navy, to bombard North Korean troops as they advanced down the eastern coast. The ship also provided fire support during the Inch'ŏn Landing later that year. Jamaica was refitted late in the year and returned to Great Britain in early 1951 where she was placed in reserve. She was recommissioned in 1954 for service with the Mediterranean Fleet where the ship participated in Operation Musketeer, the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt to seize control of the Suez Canal in 1956. Jamaica was paid off in 1958 and sold for scrap in 1960.


The interior of a 6 inch triple Mark XXIII mounting on board HMS Jamaica. Note the crew wearing anti-flash gear. The crew member in the foreground has over his shoulder a 30-pound cordite propellant charge. Note a further charge is emerging from the cordite hoist in the floor. It is still in its protective case.

Jamaica displaced about 8,631 long tons (8,770 t) at standard load and 11,017 long tons (11,194 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 555 feet 6 inches (169.3 m), a beam of 68 feet 5 inches (20.9 m)[1] and a draught of 19 feet 10 inches (6.0 m). She was powered by Parsons geared steam turbines, driving four shafts, which developed a total of 80,000 shaft horsepower (60,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 32.25 knots (59.73 km/h; 37.11 mph). Steam for the turbines was provided by four Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers. Jamaica carried a maximum of 1,700 long tons (1,700 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 6,520 nautical miles (12,080 km; 7,500 mi) at 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph).[2] The ship's complement was 733 officers and men in peacetime and 900 during war.[1]

The ship mounted twelve 50-calibre 6-inch (152 mm) guns in four three-gun turrets. Her secondary armament consisted of eight 4-inch (102 mm) anti-aircraft (AA) guns in four twin turrets. Jamaica mounted two quadruple 2-pounder (40 mm) light AA mounts ("pom-poms"). Her short-range AA armament is not known. The ship carried two above-water triple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[1]

Jamaica lacked a full waterline armor belt. The sides of her boiler and engine rooms and the magazines were protected by 3.25–3.5 inches (83–89 mm) of armour. The deck over the machinery spaces and magazines was reinforced to a thickness of 2–3.5 inches (51–89 mm). She carried an aircraft catapult and two Supermarine Sea Otter seaplanes.[3]


Jamaica was laid down on 28 April 1938 by Vickers-Armstrongs in Barrow-in-Furness, England as part of the 1938 Naval Programme and named for the Colony of Jamaica.

The ship was launched on 16 November 1940 and completed on 29 June 1942.[1] After working up, the ship provided distant cover to Convoy PQ 18 in September. She was assigned to the Centre Task Force of Operation Torch in early November and was unsuccessfully attacked by the French submarine Fresnel.[4] The Arctic convoys had been suspended at PQ 18, but were scheduled to resume on 15 December with Convoy JW 51A. HMS Jamaica and HMS Sheffield, with several escorting destroyers, formed Force R, under the command of Rear-Admiral Robert Burnett and were tasked to cover the convoy against any German surface ships. The convoy was not spotted by the Germans and arrived at the Kola Inlet without incident on 25 December.

Battle of the Barents Sea

Main article: Battle of the Barents Sea
Force R sailed from Kola on 27 December to rendezvous with Convoy JW 51B in the Norwegian Sea, but the convoy had been blown southwards by a major storm. Several of its ships had been separated during storm and they confused the radar of Force R's ships as to the true location of the convoy. Thus Force R was 30 miles (48 km) north of the convoy on the morning of 31 December when the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper attacked the convoy. Admiral Hipper was first held at bay by the British destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Obedient, HMS Obdurate and HMS Orwell. Initially driven off, Admiral Hipper returned, only to be engaged by Force R shortly before noon and was hit by three 6-inch shells from the cruisers. Two German destroyers, Z16 Friedrich Eckoldt and Z4 Richard Beitzen, misidentified Sheffield as Admiral Hipper and attempted to form up on her. Sheffield sank Friedrich Eckoldt at a range of 2 miles (3.2 km) while Jamaica unsuccessfully engaged Richard Beitzen. Less than an hour later Force R spotted the pocket battleship Lutzow and Admiral Hipper and opened fire. Neither side scored any hits in the darkness before both sides turned away a few minutes later. Force R continued to track the German ships for several hours before they lost contact. Although the destroyer HMS Achates and the minesweeper HMS Bramble were sunk by the Kriegsmarine, the convoy reached the Kola Inlet intact.[5] Force R remained at sea to protect Convoy RA 51 that was returning to Great Britain[6] until relieved by HMS Berwick and HMS Kent.[7]
Jamaica was relieved of escort duties on her return in January 1943 and had her main gun barrels replaced in March. She rejoined the Home Fleet, but was refitted in Portsmouth from July to September.[7] Sometime during the year she received six twin power-operated 20-millimetre (0.8 in) AA guns as well as four single guns.[8] During November she protected the convoys RA 54B, JW 54A, JW 54B and RA 54B, but was not engaged.[7] On 15 December she was assigned to Force 2, the distant escort for Convoy JW 55A, with the battleship HMS Duke of York and four destroyers. Force 2 was commanded by Admiral Bruce Fraser, Commander-in-Chief of Home Fleet, in Duke of York. For the first time the British distant cover force escorted the convoy all the way to the Kola Inlet. Their passage was uneventful and Force 2 sailed on 18 December to refuel at Iceland. Before he reached his destination, Admiral Fraser received Ultra information that a sortie by the German battleship Scharnhorst was likely to attack Convoy JW 55B, which was already at sea.[9]

Battle of North Cape

Main article: Battle of North Cape

The torpedomen of HMS Jamaica who finally dispatched the Scharnhorst, at Scapa Flow after the sinking of the German warship on 26 December 1943. The men are still wearing their anti-flash gear.

German aerial reconnaissance spotted the convoy on 22 December, and Scharnhorst, escorted by five destroyers of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, sailed on 25 December to intercept it. The resulting engagement became known as the Battle of North Cape.[10] The Germans were spotted on the morning of 26 December and were engaged by the covering force that consisted of the cruisers HMS Belfast, HMS Sheffield, HMS Norfolk and four destroyers.

 Meanwhile HMS Jamaica and HMS Duke Of York approached from the south west, barring the Scharnhorst’s path of retreat. The German battleship turned for her base at Altafjord in the early afternoon after two brief encounters with the British cruisers. She was spotted by Duke of York's Type 273 radar at a range of 45,500 yards (41,600 m) and Duke of York opened fire half an hour later.

 Jamaica fired her first salvo a minute after, and hit Scharnhorst on her third broadside. She was forced to cease fire after 19 volleys as the German ship was faster in the heavy seas than the British ships, and was opening up the range despite heavy damage from the British shells. One shell from Duke of York's last volley penetrated into Scharnhorst's Number One boiler room and effectively destroyed it. This reduced the German ship's speed sufficiently for the British destroyers to catch up and make four torpedo hits using a pincer attack. This slowed the ship again, so that Jamaica and Duke of York also caught up and opened fire at a range of 10,400 yards (9,500 m). They hit the German ship continually, but she was not sinking after 20 minutes of firing so Jamaica was ordered to torpedo her. Two torpedoes from her first volley of three missed and the third misfired, so the cruiser had to turn about to fire her other broadside of three, two of which appeared to hit. Belfast and the destroyers also fired torpedoes before Scharnhorst finally sank.[11]

Further convoys and the raids on the Tirpitz
In February–March 1944, Jamaica served as part of the covering forces for Convoys JW 57, JW 58 and RA 58. [12] She was detached from the latter to escort the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious as she launched an air strike against the German battleship Tirpitz as part of Operation Tungsten.[7] In July she formed part of the covering force for the carriers HMS Formidable, HMS Furious and HMS Indefatigable during a unsuccessful attack on the German battleship Tirpitz berthed in Kaafjord (Operation Mascot). Jamaica escorted the Convoys JW 59 and RA 59 in August–September[13] before starting a major refit in October that lasted until April 1945. The ship's 'X' turret (third from the front) was removed and replaced by two more 2-pounder mounts while her radar suite was modernized.[7]

On 6 June the cruiser conveyed King George VI and the Queen on a visit the Channel Islands.[14] Jamaica joined the 5th Cruiser Squadron at Colombo in October and replaced HMS Norfolk as the squadron flagship in April 1946. The ship returned to Devonport for a refit in November 1947[7] and was transferred to the North America and West Indies Station in August 1948 after its completion.[15] She was sent to Hong Kong in April 1949 and remained in the Far East until the Korean War began in June 1950.[7]

The Korean War

Fighting between North and South Korea had broken out on 25 June 1950, whilst Jamaica was on passage to Japan. She, and her escort HMS Black Swan, were ordered to rendezvous with the American light cruiser USS Juneau off the east coast of Korea to bombard advancing North Korean troops.[16] On 2 July a North Korean supply convoy was returning from Chumunjin when it was spotted by the Allied ships. The escorting motor torpedo boats and motor gun boats turned to fight, but three torpedo boats and both gun boats were sunk without inflicting any damage on the Allied ships.[17] They resumed bombarding coastal targets. Six days later [July 8] Jamaica was hit by a 75-millimetre (3.0 in) shell[18] that killed six and wounded five.[16]

On 15 August the ship bombarded captured harbour facilities in Kunsan.[19] The following month, Jamaica participated in the preparatory bombardment of the island of Wolmi-do before the main landing on 15 September. During the landing itself she supported the southern flank of the assault and she was tasked to support the 1st Marine Regiment afterwards. Two days after the landing Jamaica and the American heavy cruiser USS Rochester were attacked by a pair of Yakovlev piston-engined fighters at dawn. One aircraft succeeded in strafing the ship, killing one sailor, before it was shot down by the ship's guns.[20]
Jamaica was sent to refit in Singapore in October and then sailed for home after it was completed. She arrived in Plymouth in February 1952 and was placed in reserve. The ship was the flagship of the Reserve Fleet from May 1953 to 1954 when she was recommissioned for service with the Mediterranean Fleet.

Assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, she was refitted in Chatham Dockyard from June 1955 and rejoined her squadron. The ship participated in Operation Musketeer in November 1956.[7] The ship led the bombardment force covering the Royal Marine landings at Port Said,[21] but she was not permitted to fire her main guns as the Cabinet had banned naval gunfire support by guns larger than 4.5 inches (114 mm).[22]

Jamaica was placed in reserve again in September 1958 after a port visit to Kiel. She was sold on 14 November 1960 to BISCO.[7] The ship arrived at Arnott Young's yards at Dalmuir on 20 December 1960 for scrapping.[15] This was not completed until 15 August 1963 at Troon.[7]

HMS Jamaica (44)

Light cruiser of the Fiji class

HMS Jamaica as seen in 1943 or 1944

Navy The Royal Navy
Type Light cruiser
Class Fiji
Pennant 44
Built by Vickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.)
Ordered 1 Mar 1939
Laid down 28 Apr 1939
Launched 16 Nov 1940
Commissioned 29 Jun 1942
End service 20 Nov 1957

In September 1942 Jamaica was employed as a close support for convoys. In November, she was part of the central task force covering the Allied landings in French North Africa, operation Torch in the area of Oran. In December she was in the Arctic and once again she was tasked in supplying close support for convoys.

In 1943 Jamaica spent this entire year in the escorting of Arctic convoys. In December the cruiser was a unit of the distant Covering Forces for an Arctic convoy, with the battleship HMS Duke of York and four destroyers. On the 22nd German air reconnaissance spotted the convoy, and the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst and five destroyers headed for it. They were intercepted by the Covering Force, consisting of cruisers HMS Belfast, HMS Sheffield, HMS Norfolk and four destroyers. Coming up fast from the south west was Jamaica with the battleship Duke Of York who barred the German battle cruisers way. In a pursuit engagement the British ships obtained some hits with their radar controlled fire, but the Germans superior speed enabled her to out-range her pursuers, but not the British destroyers who managed to obtain four torpedo hits using a skilful pincer attack, this brought the German to a halt. Sharnhorst was battered by gunfire from Jamaica and Duke Of York, and from Belfast and Norfolk who arrived later. The German was once again hit by another ten torpedoes, and sunk in the evening of December 26th. Only 36 survivors were rescued.

During March – April 1944, still in the Arctic, Jamaica Was a unit of a large covering force for the Murmansk convoys. In July an unsuccessful attack was carried out on the German battleship Tirpitz which was lying in Kaafjord. Jamaica was part of the covering force for the carriers HMS Formidable and HMS Indefatigable. In September she was once again involved with Arctic convoy operations. In October Jamaica and two destroyers carried out the provisioning of Spitzbergen.

During a refit in 1945 Jamaica had her X turret removed and increased anti-aircraft armament was fitted. In September she joined the 5th Cruiser Squadron of the East Indies Fleet.

In February 1946 Jamaica became a member of the 4th Cruiser Squadron, based at the same station. On August 19th, she was dry docked at Simonstown, South Africa for the removal of a rudder and a general refit. On October 4th she was undocked and on the 25th she entered the wet dock for one day to carry out an inclination experiment. In November 1947 Jamaica returned to the U.K. In August 1948 Jamaica joined the America and West Indies Station as a member of the 8th Cruiser Squadron.

In July 1949 Jamaica arrived at the Far East Station on loan to the 5th Cruiser Squadron for participation in the Korean war.

On 25 June 1950 while Jamaica was on passage to Hong Kong, heavy fighting broke out between North and South Korea.

On the 29th, she rendezvoused with the cruiser HMS Belfast and a frigate, after receiving orders from Command Naval Forces Far East, she was dispatched with two frigates to the coast of Korea where she joined a United Nations support force under Rear Admiral Higgins.

On July 2nd, Jamaica and the American cruiser Juneau were patrolling together near Chumunjin when four Korean MTB`s were detected escorting about ten fishing trawlers. The MTB`s were destroyed by the cruisers, and three trawlers were sunk. Light artillery opened up from the shore, and the warships were forced to withdraw. After this action Jamaica set out for Sasebo, where she was refuelled, and then she relieved USS Juneau in the Chumunjin area. Bombardments of various coastal targets were carried out in an attempt to slow down the Communist invasion.

On the 7th, together with the frigate HMS Hart and the US destroyer USS Lyman K. Swenson she bombarded Yangyang in North Korea itself.

On the 8th, Jamaica and Swenson moved south where there were suitable cliff roads for bombardment. Moving at only 6 knots to gain accuracy, Jamaica was taken under fire by a hidden 76.2 mm gun battery which scored a hit on the starboard tripod of the mainmast, killing two and wounding others. The Communist guns were soon silenced, and the two ships returned to their original targets.

 In September planning was in progress for the landing at Inch'ŏn, which was to turn the tide of the war against the North Koreans. This was kept an American affair, but the 6 inch guns of Jamaica and her sister ship HMS Kenya were a valuable addition to the gunfire support groups of the American Task Force.

On the 13th, the bombardment began, using Firefly aircraft from the carrier HMS Triumph as spotters, and

on the 14th, the peninsula of Walmindo, the first objective of the landing forces, had been silenced.

On the 15th, Jamaica and Kenya teamed up with the two US heavy cruisers USS Rochester and USS Toledo, and opened fire on Walmi-do. Each British cruiser had one spotting Firefly allocated to her. The bombardment went on at intervals all day, the Triumph providing three pairs of Firefly`s in constant rotation. The attempt was made to limit fire to known military targets, and Jamaica succeeded in hitting an ammunition dump with spectacular results.

On the 17th, just before 0600, two aircraft appeared overhead, they were initially mistaken for “friendlies”, but as the first approached the USS Rochester it dived and released two bombs, which fell astern. The second also dropped a bomb that landed on the American cruisers crane, but failed to explode. The two North Korean machines, a Yak-9 and a Shlurmovik then made for Jamaica which had already opened fire, as the Shlurmovik flew over the cruiser it raked her port side with gunfire, and one sailor was killed and two others injured. One machine gun bullet had penetrated the 1 inch armour protecting the rear of the 6 inch gun turret, grazing and surprising the one rating occupying the turret at the time. The aircraft was badly hit however, and was brought down, while the more nimble Yak got away. At the end of the Korean bombardment the Jamaica`s guns crews had fired 1,290 rounds of 6 inch ammunition and 393 rounds of 4 inch.

In February 1951 Jamaica returned to the U.K, and was placed into reserve.

Early 1953 she started a refit. In October she was brought forward to replace the cruiser HMS Swiftsure that had been damaged by collision with the destroyer HMS Diamond. In 1954 Jamaica was transferred to the Home Fleet. Not long after this, she was once again on the move this time to join the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1956 Jamaica was flagship of F02 Mediterranean, she led the amphibious warfare squadron onto the beaches of Port Said, (operation “Musketeer”) having acted as radar picket ship for the Fleet Air Arm and the RAF. In November 1957, her tour of duty completed, the cruiser returned to the U.K. She was decommissioned on the 20th. On 20 December 1960 Jamaica arrived at Dalmuir to be broken up by Arnott Young Ltd.

The ships badge can still be seen painted on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall with the inscription Non Sibi Seb Patria.

Commands listed for HMS Jamaica (44)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

Commander From To
1 Capt. Jocelyn Latham Storey, RN 27 Feb 1942 12 Dec 1943
2 Capt. John Hughes-Hallett, DSO, RN 12 Dec 1943 Jan 1946