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HMS Latona (M76)
HMS Latona (M76).jpg
Career (United Kingdom)
Class and type: Abdiel-class minelayer
Name: HMS Latona
Ordered: 23 December 1938
Builder: John I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston, Hampshire
Laid down: 4 April 1939
Launched: 20 August 1940
Commissioned: 4 May 1941
Fate: Sunk on 25 October 1941
General characteristics
Displacement: 2,650 tons standard
3,415 tons full
Length: 418 ft (127 m)
Beam: 40 ft (12 m)
Draught: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Propulsion: Two shafts
Geared turbines
four Admiralty 3-drum boilers
72,000 shp
Speed: 40 knots (74 km/h)
Complement: 242
Armament:
  • 6 x QF 4.7 in L/45 Mark XII on twin mountings CP Mark XIX, (later 6 x QF 4 in L/45 Mark XVI on twin mounts HA/LA Mk.XIX)
  • 4 x QF 2 pdr L/39 Mk.VIII on quadruple mount Mk.VII.
  • 8 x 0.5 in Vickers machine guns on quadruple mount Mk.I (later up to 12 x 20 mm Oerlikons on single mounts P Mk.III or twin mounts Mk.V).
  • 156 mines.
Motto: Vestigia nostra cavate: 'Beware our tracks'
Honours & awards: Libya 1941
Notes: Pennant number M76
Badge: On a Field barry wavy White and Blue, upon a pomme vert a sun in splendour Gold eclipsed by a moon White.

HMS Latona was an Abdiel-class minelayer of the Royal Navy. She served briefly during the Second World War, but was sunk less than six months after commissioning.[1]

Construction and commissioning

Latona was ordered on 23 December 1938 and was laid down at the yards of John I. Thornycroft & Company, of Woolston, Hampshire on 4 April 1939.[2] She was launched on 20 August 1940 as a fast minelayer. She was commissioned on 4 May 1941 but never served in her intended primary role, instead being used in the Mediterranean to deliver stores and supplies to the allied armies and garrisons at Tobruk and Cyprus.[2]

Wartime career

On being commissioned Latona sailed to Scapa Flow to embark stores and extra Oerlikon 20 mm cannons for defence against air attacks.[2] Having completed loading, she sailed for the Mediterranean in 16 May, travelling via the Cape of Good Hope and the Red Sea. She arrived at Alexandria on 21 June, joining her sister HMS Abdiel. The following day they sailed to support military operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Latona’s first assignment was to carry RAF personnel to Cyprus to reinforce the garrison there. After successfully carrying this out, she returned to Alexandria on 25 July.[2]

She sailed again in August in company with HMS Abdiel, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam to support the garrison at Tobruk.[2] They eventually carried some 6,300 troops to Tobruk and evacuated another 6,100. On 25 October the ships supporting Tobruk came under air attack north of Bardia. The Latona, carrying 1,000 Polish troops, was hit in the engine room by a bomb from a Junkers Ju 87 of I./StG1.[2] This started a fire which soon raged out of control. The destroyers HMS Hero and HMS Encounter came alongside to assist and evacuated most of the troops and crew. Latona remained afloat for a further two hours, before the after magazine exploded, sinking the ship. Four officers, 16 crew members and 7 soldiers were killed.[2]

Notes

References

Coordinates: 32°15′N 24°14′E / 32.25°N 24.233°E / 32.25; 24.233


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