Cambrian class light cruisers

The four Cambrian class light cruisers were virtual repeats of the previous Calliope class ships. Built as part of the 1914-1915 programme, they were the first cruisers to be laid down after the start of the First World War, beginning to enter service at the end of 1915. Compared to the Calliope class they had a slightly higher displacement (up 100 tons), thinner belt armour, carried the next mark of 6ingun and with a top speed of 28.5kts were slightly slower.

They were designed to carry the same arrangement of guns as the Calliope class ships – two 4in guns on the forecastle, three 4in guns on each side and two 6in guns at the rear of the ship. The first three to be completed – Canterbury, Castor and Constance – were completed in this configuration and fought at Jutland with these guns. On Cambrian the two forward 4in guns were replaced by one 6in gun, and during 1916-1917 the other three ships were modified to this standard. Finally, in 1917-18 the remaining 4in guns were replaced by one 6in gun amidships on the centre line.

HMS Cambrian served with the Grand Fleet during the First World War, forming part of the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron from the time she came into service until the end of the war. She just missed the battle of Jutland, but all three of her sisters took part in the battle.

HMS Canterbury was attached to the Third Battle Cruiser Squadron under Admiral Hood at Jutland. Immediately after the battle she was transferred to the Harwich Force, forming part of the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron until at least October 1918. By the end of the war she had been transferred to the Aegean

HMS Castor was commissioned as the flagship of the 11th Destroyer Flotilla, leading that unit at Jutland. By the end of the war she was the Destroyer Leader for the Grand Fleet.

HMS Constance served with the Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet throughout the war. At Jutland this squadron provided the anti-submarine screen for the battleships of the Grand Fleet as they made their way south.

Immediately after the war, Cambrian and Constance were posted to the North America and West Indies station, Canterbury and Castor served in the Black Sea. After that they spent most of the rest of their careers serving in home waters, although Constance served with the 5th Cruiser Squadron on the China station from 1928-1930. Cambrian and Canterbury were sold off in 1934, Castor and Constance in 1936.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - conning tower




Armaments as built

Two 6in Mk XIII guns
Eight 4in Mk IV guns
Four 3pdr guns
One 13pdr gun AA gun
Two 21in submerged torpedo tubes

Main guns 1916-17

Three 6in guns
Six 4in guns

Main guns 1917-18

Four 6in guns

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Cambrian
HMS Canterbury
HMS Castor
HMS Constance

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 November 2007), Cambrian class light cruisers ,

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