Challenger class second class cruisers

The two ships of the Challenger class of second class cruisers were virtual repeats of the previous Highflyer class, but equipped with engines that were 25% more powerful (12,500ihp compared to 10,000ihp). This extra power increased the top speed of the ships by one knot, from 20kts to 21kts, demonstrating how difficult it could be to increase the speed of warships. Their uniform 6in armament was later refitted to the older Eclipse and Arrogant classes. HMS Encounter was completed in 1905. There would then be a four year gap before the next light cruiser, HMS Bristol, was laid down. The gap was due to Lord Fisher, who believed that the light cruiser was obsolete and would be replaced by the larger destroyers.

HMS Challenger began the First World War with the 9th Cruiser Squadron, based at Portland. Her first duty was to guard against enemy minelayers in the Bristol Channel. During August 1914 she was moved to the Finisterre station, and then in September to West Africa to take part in the invasion of the Cameroons. During 1915 she was moved to East Africa, taking part in the operations against the Königsberg in the Rufiji Delta. She remained on the East Africa station until the end of the war, bombarding Dar es Salaam on 13 June 1916. By November 1918 she was the only cruiser still on that station.

HMAS Encounter had been given to the Royal Australian Navy in 1912. At the start of the First World War she took part in the operations to capture German New Guinea, and was present at the capture of Rabaul and Friedrich-Wilhelm Harbour. Other than a brief period on the China station in 1915-1916, she spent most of the war in Australian waters, under orders from Melbourne.



Top Speed


Armour – deck

1.5in – 3in

 - conning tower


 - gunshields


 - engine hatches





Eleven 6in quick firing guns
Nine 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3prd quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Challenger
HMAS Encounter

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 November 2007), Challenger class second class cruisers ,

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