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HMS Galatea

Arethusa Class Light Cruiser

February 1937
February 1937
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 Built by Scotts, Greenock. Laid Down 2 June 1933.

Launched 9 August 1934. Completed 14 August 1935.

Sunk 14 December 1941 by a salvo of torpedoes from U557, off Alexandria (470 lost). She sank in three minutes. U557 was sunk shortly afterwards.

Galatea joined the Mediterranean Fleet on commissioning and acted as flagship, Rear Admiral (Destroyers). After the outbreak of war she was ordered home, and in February/March 1940 took part in the operations to intercept Axis merchantmen attempting to break out of Vigo. In April she was involved in the Norwegian campaign, and in May joined the Nore Command as Flagship of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. She remained with the Home Fleet (under refit, October 1940-January 1941) until May 1941, and was involved in the Bismarck operations. In July 1941 she joined the Mediterranean Fleet via the Red Sea, and by November was based at Malta with Force K, operating against the Axis supply convoys to North Africa.

On 9 December, 1941 U557 left Messina for her last patrol. Six days later she sank the British cruiser HMS Galatea off the Egyptian coast. The U-boat headed back the same day for the base of the 23rd flotilla at Salamis.

At 1806hrs on 16 December, U557 sent a short radio signal indicating that she was 18 hours from port. At 1800hrs on the same day, the Italian torpedo boat Orione left the Cretan port of Suda. The commander had no knowledge that a German U-boat was in the area of Crete.

When the Italian commander saw a submarine at 2144hrs, heading in a northerly direction, he decided to ram it, supposing it to be British. U557 sank immediately with all hands; the damaged Italian torpedo boat headed back to base. The position of the incident was given by the Italian commander as 35.31N, 23.19E.

Galatea prewar
Galatea prewar
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Galatea prewar, taken at the same time as the pic above
Galatea prewar, taken at the same time as the pic above
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Scapa Flow, 1941, prior to departure to the Mediterranean in July
Scapa Flow, 1941, prior to departure to the Mediterranean in July
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