HMS Caroline (1914)
Overview
 

HMS Caroline was a C-class
C class cruiser
The C class was a group of twenty-eight light cruisers of the Royal Navy, and were built in a sequence of seven classes known as the Caroline , Calliope , Cambrian , Centaur , Caledon , Ceres and Carlisle classes...

 light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

 of the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. Caroline was launched and commissioned in 1914. At the time of her decommissioning in 2011 she was the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service, after HMS Victory
HMS Victory
HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is most famous as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805....

. She served as a static headquarters and training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

, based in Alexandra Dock
Port of Belfast
Belfast Harbour is a major maritime gateway in Northern Ireland, serving the Northern Ireland economy and increasingly that of the Republic of Ireland...

, Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

, Northern Ireland for the later stages of her career. She was the last remaining British First World War light cruiser in service, and she remains the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

 still afloat.
HMS Caroline was built by Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird, one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield at the turn of the twentieth century.- Founding of the business :The Company...

 of Birkenhead
Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

.
Encyclopedia

HMS Caroline was a C-class
C class cruiser
The C class was a group of twenty-eight light cruisers of the Royal Navy, and were built in a sequence of seven classes known as the Caroline , Calliope , Cambrian , Centaur , Caledon , Ceres and Carlisle classes...

 light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

 of the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. Caroline was launched and commissioned in 1914. At the time of her decommissioning in 2011 she was the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service, after HMS Victory
HMS Victory
HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is most famous as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805....

. She served as a static headquarters and training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Naval Reserve
The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

, based in Alexandra Dock
Port of Belfast
Belfast Harbour is a major maritime gateway in Northern Ireland, serving the Northern Ireland economy and increasingly that of the Republic of Ireland...

, Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

, Northern Ireland for the later stages of her career. She was the last remaining British First World War light cruiser in service, and she remains the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

 still afloat.

Construction

HMS Caroline was built by Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird, one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield at the turn of the twentieth century.- Founding of the business :The Company...

 of Birkenhead
Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

. She was launched in 1914 and commissioned on 4 December 1914. Caroline was part of the early sub-set of C Class ships built without geared turbines and subsequent comparisons with later vessels of the same class demonstrated the superiority of geared propulsion. Caroline's machinery is still in place today, although not in working order.

Early service

She served in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 throughout the First World War. She spent much of the war with the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron: Caroline fought with the squadron in 1916 in the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

, under the command of Captain H. R. Crooke.

Caroline later served on the East Indies Station
East Indies Station
The East Indies Station was a formation of the British Royal Navy from 1865 to 1941.From 1831 to 1865 the East Indies and the China Station were a single command known as the East Indies and China Station...

 before being placed in Reserve and converted to a headquarters and training ship for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve's Ulster Division in 1924.

Second World War

During the Second World War Caroline served as the Royal Navy's headquarters in Belfast Harbour which was used as a home base by many of the warships escorting Atlantic and Russian convoys
Arctic convoys of World War II
The Arctic convoys of World War II travelled from the United Kingdom and North America to the northern ports of the Soviet Union—Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945...

 including Captain-class
Captain class frigate
The Captain class were 78 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed in the United States, launched in 1942–1943 and delivered to the United Kingdom under the provisions of Lend-Lease. They served in World War II as convoy escorts, anti-submarine warfare vessels and coastal forces control frigates...

 frigates of the 3rd Escort Group.

As Belfast developed into a major naval base during the Second World War, it outgrew the confines of HMS Caroline herself and occupied different establishments in various parts of the city. Eventually several thousand ratings were wearing Caroline cap tallies. The first such establishment was set up in the Belfast Custom House. Later, Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle is set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland in a prominent position above sea level. Its location provides unobstructed views of the city of Belfast and Belfast Lough.-History:...

 was taken over and included a radio station. There were depth charge
Depth charge
A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuze set to go off at a preselected depth in the ocean. Depth charges can be dropped by either surface ships, patrol aircraft, or from...

 pistol and Hedgehog
Hedgehog (weapon)
The Hedgehog was an anti-submarine weapon developed by the Royal Navy during World War II, that was deployed on convoy escort warships such as destroyers to supplement the depth charge. The weapon worked by firing a number of small spigot mortar bombs from spiked fittings...

 repair workshops associated with HMS Caroline some of which would have been on the quays beside her berth in Milewater Basin.

During the early part of the Second World War when RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 Belfast occupied Sydenham (Belfast harbour) airfield, Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 personnel based there were lodged under HMS Caroline. In 1943, the airfield was transferred to the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 and commissioned as HMS Gadwell.

Post-war

The Caroline served as the last afloat training establishment in the Royal Naval Reserve. She is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection
National Historic Fleet, Core Collection
The National Historic Fleet, Core Collection is a list of museum ships located in the United Kingdom, under the National Historic Ships register.The vessels on the National Historic Fleet are distinguished by:...

,

Although no longer capable of making way under her own power, Caroline remains afloat and in excellent condition. Buffeting from waves and high winds have caused the ship to almost come away from her moorings several times. In 2005, during a storm, she ripped several huge bollards out of the jetty concrete, but failed to break free entirely. Proposals have been made to return the ship to her WW-I appearance, which among other restoration work would involve sourcing and installing 4" guns of that era and the removal of the large deck-house from her mid-ships deck. Thus far the costs involved have been prohibitive and no scheme has progressed beyond the discussion stage. Caroline is not normally open to tourists although entrance can be gained during the annual Titanic celebrations.

The Royal Naval Reserve Unit decommissioned from the ship in December 2009 moving ashore and recommissioning as the "stone frigate
Stone frigate
Stone frigate is a nickname for a naval establishment on land. The term has its origin in Britain's Royal Navy after its use of Diamond Rock, off Martinique, as a 'sloop of war' to harass the French...

" . The ship was decommissioned on 31 March 2011 in a traditional ceremony. Her ensign was laid up in St Anne's Cathedral
St Anne's Cathedral
St Anne's Cathedral could refer to either:* St Anne's Cathedral, Leeds* St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast...

 in Belfast. Her future is uncertain with several proposals put forward. On her decommissioning she was placed into the care of the National Museum of the Royal Navy based in Portsmouth though remaining moored in her position in Alexandra Dock. One proposal is to remain in Belfast as a museum ship
Museum ship
A museum ship, or sometimes memorial ship, is a ship that has been preserved and converted into a museum open to the public, for educational or memorial purposes...

 within the Titanic Quarter
Titanic Quarter, Belfast
The Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland is a waterfront regeneration project, including apartments, a riverside entertainment district, and a major Titanic-themed attraction under development on reclaimed land in Belfast Harbour, known until recently as Queen's Island...

 development alongside . Another is a move to Portsmouth with many of her original fittings reinstated.

Records

At her decommissioning she held the title of the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service, as well as being the last First World War British light cruiser in service. She is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

.Among warships afloat, the oldest steel warship appears to be the Netherlands ironclad turret-ram Hr Ms Buffel
HNLMS Buffel
HNLMS Buffel is a 19th century iron-clad ram ship, now one of the main attractions of the Maritime Museum Rotterdam, also known as the Prince Hendrik Museum, named after its founder, Prince Henry "the Navigator", who had a naval career and established the basis of the museum back in 1874.- Build...

, launched in 1868 and now a museum ship in Rotterdam, although Buffel is not in commission. HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior (1860)
HMS Warrior was the first iron-hulled, armour-plated warship, built for the Royal Navy in response to the first ironclad warship, the French Gloire, launched a year earlier....

, launched in 1860, is not in commission, and required extensive refurbishment, but is now afloat in Portsmouth. One of the oldest steel warships afloat known to have fought in battle is the launched in November 1892, but it was decommissioned in 1922. Even older and still afloat in the Chilean port of Talcahuano is the ironclad Huáscar
Huáscar (ship)
Huáscar is a 19th century small armoured turret ship of a type similar to a monitor. She was built in Britain for Peru and played a significant role in the battle of Pacocha and the War of the Pacific against Chile before being captured and commissioned with the Chilean Navy. Today she is one of...

, launched in 1865, and which saw extensive service in battle during the War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

 (1879–1883), being now a museum ship. The is also afloat and, having been launched in December 1900, is older than Caroline, and is today in commission, but it was an uncommissioned museum ship from 1957 to about 1990. Of ships not afloat, the launched in November 1900 is older than Caroline and the Russian cruiser Aurora, but it is neither in commission nor afloat; it became a museum ship in 1921 and is in drydock. A Swedish ironclad monitor launched in the 1870s, , is (January 2009) under restoration at the Goteborg Maritime Centre, but it is unknown whether it will be displayed afloat or dry. The Greek Armored Cruiser Georgios Averof (1911) is still apparently afloat and commissioned.


Caroline retains the record of having the fastest build time of any significant warship – nine months from her keel being laid till her launch. Her Parsons
Charles Algernon Parsons
Sir Charles Algernon Parsons OM KCB FRS was an Anglo-Irish engineer, best known for his invention of the steam turbine. He worked as an engineer on dynamo and turbine design, and power generation, with great influence on the naval and electrical engineering fields...

 steam turbine
Steam turbine
A steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into rotary motion. Its modern manifestation was invented by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884....

s are the last surviving examples of the kind introduced after the notable event of Parson's Turbinia
Turbinia
Turbinia was the first steam turbine-powered steamship. Built as an experimental vessel in 1894, and easily the fastest ship in the world at that time, Turbinia was demonstrated dramatically at the Spithead Navy Review in 1897 and set the standard for the next generation of steamships, the...

 cutting up the fleet at the Spithead review in 1897. Harland & Wolff
Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries is a Northern Irish heavy industrial company, specialising in shipbuilding and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland....

of Belfast removed her weaponry and boilers on arrival in Belfast around 1924.
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