History

HMS Caroline with aircraft on flying off platform

 

HMS Caroline – The Battle of Jutland

Much of HMS Caroline has undergone extensive restoration to her 1916 appearance at the Battle of Jutland. Visitors will discover a range of historic spaces including the Captain’s Cabin, Royal Marines Mess and Seamen’s Wash as well as the very important engine room, sick-bay and galley kitchen. Visitors can explore the importance of the Battle of Jutland and discover what life at sea was like for over three hundred crew who served on board Caroline during 1916. 

Caroline almost didn’t take part in the Battle of Jutland as her steering gear failed as the fleet left Scapa Flow on the evening of May 30th, 1916.

Her role in the Battle of Jutland was as part of a screening force intended to find the enemy fleet and report back on them, whilst protecting the Grand Fleet from attack.

Jutland was the only engagement in which she made contact with an enemy unit. Caroline opened fire at 7:30pm on 31st May 1916 at a range of 9,200 yards, firing three 6 inch and nine 4 inch rounds. She later fired two torpedoes which went towards the German dreadnought Nassau. She then retreated under fire and eventually returned to Scapa Flow on June 2nd.

Today, Caroline is the only ship that fought at Jutland to have survived.

  • One of 8 C-class light cruisers ordered under the Admiralty’s 1913/14 construction programme
  • Work on Caroline began on 28th January 1914 at Cammell Lairds shipyard, Birkenhead
  • She was launched on 21st September 1914, and commissioned on 4th December that year
  • During her career, Caroline protected trade by undertaking regular North Sea patrols in WW1 and, later on, convoy screening
  • She almost didn’t take part in the Battle of Jutland as her steering gear failed as the fleet left Scapa Flow on the evening of May 30th, 1916.
  • Her role in the Battle of Jutland was as part of a screening force intended to find the enemy fleet and report back on them, whilst protecting the Grand Fleet from attack.
  • Jutland was the only engagement in which she made contact with an enemy unit. Caroline opened fire at 7:30pm on 31st May 1916 at a range of 9200 yards, firing three 6 inch and nine 4 inch rounds. She later fired two torpedoes which went towards the German dreadnought Nassau. She then retreated under fire and eventually returned to Scapa Flow on June 2nd
  • Today, Caroline is the only ship that fought at Jutland to have survived.
  • After the Battle, she spent the remainder of the War patrolling, exercising, experimenting with minesweeping equipment and aircraft. She had a flying off platform built on her forecastle which enabled a Sopwith Camel to take off, but not to land.
  • In February 1917 she underwent a refit and armament change
  • She was in dry dock again when the Armistice was signed in November 1918.
  • In June 1919 she was recommissioned for the East Indies station and spent the next 2 years “Flying the Flag” in the Indian Ocean, visiting Empire territories.HMS Caroline underway
  • In 1921 Caroline paid off and recommissioned, but in mid 1921 it was decided that she would return home and be placed in reserve.
  • In November 1921 she was called back, but this time the Admiralty planned for her disposal.
  • On January 19th 1922, Caroline arrived at Portsmouth where she remained for 2 years awaiting disposal
  • Her fate changed when Sir James Craig, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland formed an RNVR division in Ulster and the Admiralty agreed that Caroline could be used as their base.
  • She was towed to Belfast in February 1924, where she was converted by Harland and Wolff into a drill ship
  • At the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, Caroline’s reservists had been drafted and Ulster RNVR ceased to exist. Caroline became a base for trawlers and other light craft, providing signal and cypher facilities. Belfast became an important centre in the Battle of the Atlantic, so many service personnel were assigned to Caroline.
  • In April 1946 Caroline was returned to Ulster Division RNVR
  • In the early 1950s she underwent a programme of modernisation

  • In December 1956, a ‘heavily charged time-bomb’ was found on the dockside next to the ship
  • In September 1971 she was fired at by a sniper, leaving a hole in a leg of the tripod mast
  • In August 1972 a bomb in a shed adjacent to the gunnery school exploded, causing great damage to the school and some superficial damage to Caroline’s superstructure.
  • Caroline remained the base for the Ulster division, but in the early 1990s, the Imperial War Museum was negotiating with the Ministry of Defence to take Caroline to Hartlepool as part of their collection. The Royal Navy said that £1M would be required to find a new home for Ulster RNVR, and the project was abandoned.
  • Caroline was decommissioned as a reserve unit in December 2009
  • Her ensign was laid up in St.Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on her decommissioning on 31st March 2011.
  • Two weeks later, it was announced that the National Museum of the Royal Navy would assume responsibility for Caroline.
  • In October 2012, funding to begin plans for Caroline’s restoration was announced
  • In May 2013, Initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund was granted, meaning that Caroline could receive up to £12M to restore her as a Museum.

 

HMS Caroline