HMS Raleigh was one of five Hawkins-classheavy cruisers built for the Royal Navy during the First World War, although the ship was not completed until 1921. She was assigned to the North America and West Indies Station when she commissioned and often served as a flagship. After visiting ports in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and both coasts of the United States and Canada in 1921–1922, Raleighran aground off Newfoundland in August 1922 with the loss of a dozen crewmen. The ship was partially salvaged in place and was demolished with explosives in 1926, although she remains a diveable wreck in very shallow water.
The Hawkins-class cruisers were designed to be able to hunt down commerce raiders in the open ocean, for which they needed a heavy armament, high speed and long range. The ships had an overall length of 605 feet (184.4 m), a beam of 65 feet (19.8 m) and a draught of 19 feet 3 inches (5.9 m) at deep load. They displaced9,750 long tons (9,910 t) at normal load and 12,190 long tons (12,390 t) at deep load. Their crew consisted of 712 officers and ratings.
The ships were originally designed with 60,000-shaft-horsepower (45,000 kW) propulsion machinery, but the Admiralty decided in 1917 to replace their four coal-fired boilers with more powerful oil-burning ones. This change could only be applied to the three least-advanced ships, including Raleigh, although she was the only one who received the full upgrade. The ship was powered by four Brown-Curtis geared steam turbine sets, each driving one propeller shaft using steam provided by a dozen Yarrow boilers. The turbines were rated at 70,000 shp (52,000 kW) for a speed of 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph). When Raleigh ran her sea trials in 1920, she reached, but did not exceed, her designed speed.Raleigh carried enough fuel oil to give her a range of 5,640 nautical miles (10,450 km; 6,490 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).
The main armament of the Hawkins-class ships consisted of seven 7.5-inch (191 mm) Mk VI guns in single mounts protected by 1-inch (25 mm)gun shields. They were arranged with five guns on the centreline, four of which were in superfiring pairs fore and aft of the superstructure, the fifth gun on the quarterdeck, and the last two as wing guns abreast the aft funnel. Their secondary armament consisted of ten 3-inch (76 mm) 20 cwt guns.[Note 1] Six of these were in low-angle mounts, two in casemates between the forward 7.5-inch guns, another pair on platforms abreast the conning tower and the remaining guns on a platform between the funnels, although these last two guns were removed in 1921. The last four served as anti-aircraft (AA) guns and were positioned around the base of the mainmast. The rest of their anti-aircraft suite consisted of a pair of 2-pounder (1.6-inch (40 mm)) AA guns. The ships were also fitted with six 21-inch (533 mm)torpedo tubes, one submerged and two above water on each broadside.
The guns of the first three Hawkins-class ships to be completed, Vindictive, Hawkins and Raleigh, were controlled by a mechanical Mark I Dreyer Fire-control Table. It used data provided by the 15-foot (4.6 m)coincidence rangefinder in the pedestal-type gunnery director positioned under the spotting top at the head of the tripod mast. The ships were also fitted with one 12-foot (3.7 m) and a 9-foot (2.7 m) rangefinder.
The Hawkins class were protected by a full-length waterlinearmoured belt that covered most of the ships’ sides. It was thickest over the boiler and engine rooms, ranging from 1.5 to 3 inches (38 to 76 mm) thick. Their magazines were protected by an additional 0.5 to 1 inch (13 to 25 mm) of armour. There was a 1-inch aft transverse bulkhead and the conning tower was protected by 3-inch armour plates. The ships’ deck protection consisted of 1 to 1.5 inches of high-tensile steel.