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Warship Wednesday1st November 2023

HMS CALYPSO – Caledonian class Light Cruiser

Sepia photo of warship HMS CALYPSO

HMS CALYPSO was a Caledon class Light Cruiser constructed by Hawthorn Leslie, and completed on 21st June 1917.

CALYPSO was 450 ft length overall x 42ft wide and displaced 4120 tons. Armament consisted of: 5 x 6-inch guns (in single mountings), 2 x 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and 4 x twin 21-inch torpedo tube mountings. The ships company was 322 men.

The ship was powered by oil fired steam boilers which supplied geared steam turbines, connected to twin propellers. The ship had a maximum speed of 29 knots.


On commission into the Royal Navy the ship was Chatham-manned from 1917 to May 1933. Serving with the 3rd Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean Sea between 1924 until September 1928 and 1930-1933. From 1933-1940 Calypso was Devonport (Plymouth) manned.

CALYPSO was placed into the Reserve Fleet, Devenport between 1933-1939. From September 1939 until June 1940 HMS CALYPSO returned to active service. Italy declared war, and hostilities commenced at 00.01 on 11th June 1940.

While operating off the coast of Crete on the 12th of June 1940, the Italian submarine Bagnolini passed through the ASDIC screen (former name for sonar) and torpedoed HMS CALYPSO.


The torpedo struck the starboard side of the ship, ‘A’ boiler room flooded subsequently followed by ‘B’ boiler room slowly. Secondly, the ship lost steam, which resulted in loss of all electrical power, which prevented effective damage control being undertaken.

Within 90 minutes of being struck, CALYPSO heeled to starboard subsequently sank at 03.30, one officer and 38 ratings of the ships company were lost.


In Greek mythology, Calypso was a nymph who lived on the island of Ogygia.

Ogygia was where she kept fabled Greek hero Odysseus for seven years, promising him immortality.

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