1933 - Launch of NEPTUNE
31st January. Saw the launching of the light cruiser Neptune from No.5 Slipway in the Dockyard. She commissioned for the Home Fleet 12th February 1934.
The sinking of Neptune is one of the most tragic stories of the war. She was the senior ship of Force K, consisting of the cruisers Neptune, Aurora, and Penelope, accompanied by the destroyers Kandahar, Lance, Lively and Havock operating from Malta.
Just after midnight of the 19th December 1941 Neptune exploded a mine in her streamed paravanes. While manoeuvring, a second mine blew her propeller and rudders away leaving her stopped. Penelope and Aurora, coming up astern, both exploded mines while trying to avoid Neptune but were able to reach Malta. Neptune then drifted onto a third mine. Kandahar closed the stricken cruiser and in turn had her stern blown off by a mine. About two hours later another mine exploded under Neptune’s bridge and with in a few minutes she rolled over and sank. The senior ship was now Penelope and her captain, who had been unable to reach Neptune’s survivors that were still in the minefield, had to leave them to their fate and return with the force to Malta. Over the next four days the survivors slowly slipped away until on the 23rd an Italian torpedo boat rescued Leading Seaman J. Walters, the sole survivor of Neptune’s crew of 764 Officers and men. Kandahar was sunk by the British destroyer Jaguar the following day after picking up her survivors.