AMPHION was the last of three Modified Leander Class
cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1930's and later
transferred to the Royal Australian Navy.
AMPHION was launched at Portsmouth on
the 27th July 1934 and commissioned on the 15th
June 1936 under Capt. R.L.Burnett O.B.E. RN. ( He would
later win fame in World War ll at the Battle of the Barents
Sea and at the sinking of the German battleship SCHARNHORST
After trials at Spithead she left Portsmouth on 18th July 1936 for
Simonstown , South Africa where she would become flagship of the 6th Cruiser Squadron under Vice Admiral Sir Francis L. Tottenham.
On the way she stopped at Tennerife in the Canary Islands
where General Franco was trying to overthrow the Spanish
Government. She stayed there until relieved by HMS
LEANDER in October. After a brief stop at the
island of Saint Helena, she proceeded to Simonstown arriving
on 3rd October 1936.
During her stay on the Africa Station, AMPHION
was mainly involved in "Showing the flag" cruises.
In the latter part of 1936 she did a cruise of the West
coast as far north as Freetown and Bathurst. A stop a Dakar
was cancelled due to an outbreak of yellow fever.On Thursday 6th Aug 1936, Stoker 2/C Basil TINKER died of an illness.
In April 1937 she did a short cruise up the East coast
as far as New London calling at several ports on the way.
In June she once again cruised the East coast as far north
as Port Amelia off the tip of Madagascar. On
the 14th July, while approaching her anchorage in Bazaruto
Bay she ran aground on soft sand. After being stuck
for 49 minutes she managed to free herself with no damage. On 29th April one of AMPHION's aircraft, Osprey K5751, was attempting a landing on Simonstown Bay when it struck turbulent air. The nose of the port float collapsed and the aircraft overturned causing severe damage. The pilot Flt.Lt. F.Judd** survived the incident.
In January 1938, AMPHION took part in the Navy Week
celebrations at Simonstown Naval Base. As well as
AMPHION, HMSs NEPTUNE, PENZANCE, and
BRIDGEWATER were open to the public.
An unfortunate incident occurred during the week when AMPHION's Osprey floatplane K5747, piloted by
Lt. John Charles Hugh Price* from HMS NEPTUNE, crashed into a mountain opposite the base. The crash killed Lt.Price and AB
Leslie.V Hammond (P/J113195). Lt. Price and AB Hammond were buried at sea with full
military honours on 22nd January
AMPHION continued her cruises up the West Coast in July
and August. On the 9th September she hosted a day cruise
for local politicians who were treated to gunnery and air
On the 3rd December 1938 the flag of the CinC was transferred
to HMS NEPTUNE and AMPHION left Simonstown
for the last time. She arrived at Portsmouth on 15th
December 1938 where she paid off and underwent a long refit.
The refit at Portsmouth Dockyard, before being handed over to the R.A.N. as HMAS PERTH involved, among other modifications, the installation of modern twin 4 inch anti-aircraft mountings in place of the original single 4 inch guns
During her commission, AMPHION steamed over
58,000 naut. miles.
(Royal Navy Historical Branch)
* Navy List shows Lt.Price as attached to NEPTUNE.
** Sturtivant & Cronin ("Fleet Air Arm aircraft, units and ships")
and Vice Adm.F.L.Tottenham
|For Aircraft used on HMS Amphion click here