RHNS Lemnos (BC-1930)


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When the Greek Navy went looking for competitors for turning the ex-US Kilkis and Lemnos pre-dreadnoughts into more modern ships, they offered the contracts to British, US, French and Italian construction yards. After perusing each yards offerings for each different type of ship the Italian yards won the bid. This gave the Italians 1 Battlecruiser, 2 Heavy cruisers, and 2 minelayers to build, a very lucrative contract in 1928 when none of the major powers were building any large warships due to the GALT Treaty. (Geneva Arms Limitation Treaty - my version of Washington Treaty - I use both depending on when I wrote the background for the ships.) Greece spun the production of the ships out over a ten year period so that the payments would not break the Treasury. The ships had needed to be sourced as the Turkish Navy was also purchasing new ships.

The design used was the design the Italian navy had rejected for a 23,000 ton ship, but which design eminently suited the Greek Navies needs. With Kilkis and Lemnos providing 4 x twin 12" turrets, the original design was altered from the three twin 15" turrets envisaged for the Italian Navy ships. The 12" armoured belts were removed from both ships and fixed to the new ship. A better armoured belt than the original design. Moving the various parts around gives room for the 4 twin turrets to replace the three big 15' turrets.

The Lemnos was laid down in 1929 and completed in 1936. The ship being delayed as the worlds markets crashed. The Lemnos was to be sent for a major refit in 1941 on the return of the Salamis and Thesalonika. The war intervened and the Lemnos received a refit at Alexandria that gave the ship updated electronics and replaced the Italian 37mm with 40mm twin Bofors.

I like the changes made between the three drawings. The Italian 1928 drawing with 6" and 3.9", to the Greek 1936 drawing with twin 5.3" dual purpose secondaries, to an Allied upgrade where electronic aids appear for all the weaponry down to 40mm predictors. An equivalent 1941 Italian ship would have very few electronic aids. Lemnos finishes its refit in July 1941 and joins Admiral Cunningham's Mediterranean Fleet. The ship is most welcome with its heavy dual purpose armament.

Displacement 23,500 tons std 27,400 tons full load
Length 640 ft
Breadth 84 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 110,500shp
Speed 30 knots
Range 5500 miles at 15 knots
Armour 12" side, 3.9" deck, 12" turrets
Armament As built

8 x 12" (4x2)
16 x 5.3 (8x2)
12 x 37mm (6x2) (replaced by 12 x 40mm (6x2))
16 x 20mm (16x1)
Aircraft 2
Torpedoes 6 x 21" (2x3)
Complement 1350

Donor ships for the main armament of the Lemnos Class Battlecruiser.


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