Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tiger class cruiser
HMS Tiger before conversion
|Displacement:||11,700 tons (12,080 tons after conversion of Blake and Tiger)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbines, 4 shafts, 4 boilers, 80,000 shp|
|Range:||8,000 nautical miles at 16 knots|
|Complement:||716 (885 after conversion of Blake and Tiger)|
|Armament:||4 x 6-in guns (2 later removed from Blake and Tiger)
6 x 3-in guns (4 later removed from Blake and Tiger)
2 x Seacat quad missile launchers (added after Blake and Tiger conversion)
|Aircraft:||4 helicopters (originally Wessex then Sea King)|
The Tiger-class guided-missile cruisers were the first of such a type in the Royal Navy, indeed they were the last cruisers built for the RN. They were originally designed to be Minotaur-class light cruisers. The Minotaurs were laid down as World War II was ending, and accordingly only three Minotaurs were completed (Swiftsure , Superb and Minotaur, which was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy and renamed Ontario ). Three other ships of the Minotaur-class had their contruction either suspended or cancelled in 1946; two were broken up.
Construction of the three suspended ships resumed in 1954 to a revised design known as the Tiger class, due to the many World War II-era cruisers that were coming to the end of their service life, indeed all such cruisers would be out of service by the 1960s due to the many defence cuts that the RN suffered.
The design of the Tigers differed from the original Minotaurs in that they were armed with two state-of-the-art automatic twin mount 6-inch guns designed just for the Tigers rather than the more obsolete three triple mount 6-inch guns used for the Minotaurs and designed in 1929. They were the last 6-inch guns used by the RN. Instead of the five twin mount 4-inch guns designed in 1934, the Tigers used 3 twin mount 3-inch guns, also designed for the Tigers, and which saw service in only the Tigers and the Canadian Restigouche-class destroyer.
The first ship to be commissioned was Tiger in 1959, with Lion in 1960 and Blake the following year. Nearly two-decades after the ships had been laid down. They were, however, obsolete, in that they were not armed with missile systems. Other ship classes that were close to entering service, such as the famous Leander-class and Tribal-class frigates were being equipped with the SeaCat missile system, though only three of the Tribals would be armed with that missile system. In 1963, Blake was placed in reserve, followed by Lion in 1964, and in 1968, Tiger too was placed in reserve.
In 1965, work began on Blake for her to be converted into a helicopter cruiser while Tiger began her conversion in 1968. Lion's conversion was cancelled. One aft twin mount 6-inch gun was removed to allow the addition of a large helicopter hangar and helicopter pad that would be capable of handling four helicopters. Two twin mount 3-in guns were also removed to make way for two quad Seacat missile launchers. More modern sensor equipment and command and control facilities were also added, that would enable them to perform in a very capable role as a flagship for task groups. The conversion had the crew complement increased to 885.
In 1969, Blake returned to service followed by Tiger in 1972. However, the crew-intensive Tigers' days were numbered. In 1973, Lion was used as a parts hulk to maintain Blake and Tiger. The manpower shortages that the Royal Navy faced in the 1970s quickened their demise. The recommissioning of two carriers, Bulwark and Hermes now configured to perform anti-submarine warfare, vital against the Soviet Union submarine threat in the Atlantic, a role that the Tigers had been used for, decreased the importance of the Tigers even further. In April 1978 Tiger was withdrawn from service, followed by Blake in 1979, the last ship of the Royal Navy to fire a 6-inch gun.
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