HMS Birkenhead

HMS Birkenhead was the name ship of the Birkenhead class of light cruisers, two “town” class cruisers taken over from the Greeks in 1915. She was originally the Antinavarhos Kontouriotis, but was taken by the Royal Navy before she was completed.

HMS Birkenhead from the right
HMS Birkenhead from the right

HMS Birkenhead served with the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron during the First World War. She took part in the battle of Jutland as part of Admiral Beatty’s battle cruiser fleet, based at Rosyth. That squadron was the first part of Beatty’s fleet to make visual contact with the main Grand Fleet at the start of the main engagement.

HMS Birkenhead was part of the force at sea during the second German attack on a Scandinavian convoy of 11-12 December 1917. The 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron was in the right place to intercept the Germans if they had followed their original plan, but the German squadron involved then decided to return home via the Baltic to avoid some bad weather, and thus avoided detection.

After the war the slightly non-standard Birkenhead was quickly scrapped. She entered the reserve in 1919, was paid off in 1920 and sold for break up in 1921, making them by far the most modern light cruisers to be scrapped so soon.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

1 ½in over steering gear
3/4in over machinery
3/8in elsewhere

 - belt

2in armour on 1in plate

 - conning tower





Ten 5.5in guns
One 3in AA gun
Two 21in submerged torpedo tubes (beam)

Crew complement



18 January 1915


May 1915

Sold for break up



E. Reeves (1916)

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 October 2007), HMS Birkenhead ,

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