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The Royal New Zealand Navy


page 533

Appendix III

HMNZS Achilles was the seventh ship of that name to serve in the Royal Navy. Her ship's badge bore the helmeted head of Achilles and the motto Fortiter in Re, Unyielding in Action'.

The first Achilles was a wooden schooner, purchased in 1747 for service in the West Indies. In the following year she was taken by two Spanish privateers between Jamaica and Martinique in a fierce action in which she lost a large number of her crew killed and wounded.

The second Achilles, launched in 1757, was a Fourth Rate of 1234 tons and 61 guns. In 1758 she helped to capture the French Raisonnable, which was taken into the Royal Navy and which Nelson joined as his first ship in 1771. The Achilles, in 1759, flew the flag of Rear-Admiral Rodney in the squadron which bombarded Le Havre during the operations of the Seven Years' War. In 1761 the Achilles was one of the squadron which captured Belle Isle. She was sold out of the service in 1784.

The third Achilles was a small storeship, built in 1781 and sold a few years later.

The fourth Achilles, launched at Gravesend in 1798, was a ship of 1930 tons and 74 guns. She was present at Trafalgar, under the command of Captain Richard King, and was the sixth ship in the lee line led by Vice-Admiral Collingwood. The French fleet at Trafalgar included an Achille, of 74 guns, which was blown up during the action. The fourth Achilles had a long life of 66 years, being finally sold out of the Navy in 1864.

The fifth Achilles, launched in 1861, was notable as being one of the first ‘ironclads’ in the Royal Navy. She was one of the squadron, commanded by Sir Geoffrey Hornby, which in 1871 forced its way through the Dardanelles to Constantinople. The Achilles was present at the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882.

The sixth Achilles, launched in 1905, was an armoured cruiser of 13,350 tons displacement, mounting six 9·2-inch and four 7·5-inch guns. She was not present at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 as she was away refitting at the time. On 16 March 1917, in company with the armed boarding steamer Dundee, the Achilles sank the German raider Leopard, which was disguised as a Norwegian tramp steamer, north of the Shetland Islands. The Achilles was broken up in 1919.

The seventh Achilles was a light cruiser of 7030 tons displacement, 554 ft 6 in in length, and 55 ft 3 in in breadth. She was built by Cammell Laird and Company Ltd. at Birkenhead, being laid down on 11 June 1931, launched on 1 September 1932, and completed on 10 October 1933. Her original armament consisted of eight 6-inch and four 4-inch guns, but she was rearmed in 1943–44 with six 6-inch guns, eight 4-inch anti-aircraft guns, and fifteen 40-mm anti-aircraft guns. She also had eight 21-inch torpedo-tubes in two quadruple mountings. She was fitted with geared turbines driving four propeller shafts and developing 72,000 horsepower for a speed of 32 knots. The Achilles was on loan to New Zealand from March 1936 to September 1946. She was purchased by India in 1948 and renamed Delhi and has since served in the Indian Navy under that name.