Syracuse Class Heavy cruisers.
Return to Tyrrhenian Navy page:
The Tyrrhenian Admiralty had paid a dear price for their first Dreadnoughts of the Cyprus class. The original twin 9.2" being replaced with single 12" guns to give the all big gun armament. The 9.2" gun order had been too far along to cancel, so the twelve twin 9.2" were completed and put to one side. The original thought was to use them for coastal defence weapons, but the outbreak of the First World War gave the Admiralty the chance to expend the guns in building three big cruisers armed with 8x9.2".
The Syracuse class were to be the next generation scouts, 'eyes of the fleet'. With the main capital ships to be screened making 28 knots, the scout cruisers would need to make 32-33 knots. To take the armament and make the speed required a ship over 600 feet long and 64 feet wide with an 80,000shp propulsion system. The biggest problem was in maintaining full speed as the boilers were coal fired, it was not till 1928 that the boilers were converted to oil firing. Tyrrhenia had large supplies of coal but only minor oil reserves.
The three ships constituted the 1st Cruiser Division and while they scraped through the Washington Treaty, they were right on the limit that was acceptable in already completed ships. What saved them was that the Tyrrhenian Navy had plenty of Capital ship tonnage left that these ships could have been included in, if necessary. Tyrrhenia may have shaken off some of its piratical history, but they still needed to guard against the pirates that still skulked along the North African coast. This is what the Syracuse class spent most of its peacetime duties doing. Endless patrols along a hot and dusty coastline. The Captains major worry not being pirates, but mutiny. The big 50 foot launches were used for stop and search work, plus searching close in to the coast and hidden coves where their 2 pounder gun would take care of any uppity fuzzy-wuzzys.
1937 and the three cruisers are taken in hand for rebuilding. Their big guns were worth keeping in the fleet. As per usual the Tyrrhenian Navy is working on a shoe string and the amount of money to be spent on the ships is not as much as the Admiralty would like. The ships had been worked hard during the inter-war years and the major amount of money to be spent on them was to renew the machinery systems. New superstructures and minor armaments transformed an old fashioned looking ship into a modern cruiser. But the Tyrrhenian Navy left out altering any of the underwater protection and when either mine or torpedo damage stuck these ships it was far more damaging to these ships than their more modern counterparts.
|Displacement||11,250 tons standard, 14,000 tons full load|
|Machinery||4 shaft Parsons turbines, 80,000shp|
|Range||5000 miles at 10 knots|
|Armour||3in belt, 2in decks, 5"/3"/2" turrets (3" deck after moderniosation)|
|Armament||As Completed 1918
8 x 9.2" (4x2)
5 x 4" (5x1)
4 x 37mm AA (4x1)
|After renovation 1937-38
8 x 9.2" (4x2)
10 x 3.9" AA (5x2)
24 x 2pd (1x8, 4x4)
12 x 20mm (8x1)
|Torpedoes||12 x21" (4x3)||6 x 21" (2x3)|
Four 2 pounder pom pom mountings were fitted either side of the fore and aft superstructures.
Return to Tyrrhennian Navy page: