Friday, 18 May 2012
H.M.S. Danae was laid down on 1 December 1916 in the Armstrong Whitworth Shipyard in Walker-on-Tyne and launched on 26 January 1918. The lead ship of her class, she was one of the fastest cruisers of her times. Propelled by two Brown-Curtis steam turbines of 40,000 HP, 6 cauldrons and 2 propellors, she could travel at 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph). With 1,060 tons of oil in her tanks, she had a range of 1,480 nautical miles (2,740 km; 1,700 mi) at 29 knots and 6,700 nautical miles (12,400 km; 7,700 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She was also decently-armoured, with the sides and the command deck protected with 3 inches (76 mm) of reinforced steel, the tanks and munition chambers with 57 mm, and the main deck with 2 inches (25 mm).
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Transferred to the Mediterranean, between 1927 and 1929 Danae served as an escort of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, after which she was withdrawn to Great Britain for refurbishment and modernisation. In 1930 she returned to active service and was attached to the 8th Cruiser Squadron stationed in the British West Indies. In 1935, at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, she escorted various evacuation convoys from Shanghai to Hong Kong and was fired at by the Japanese Navy.
Lowry refers to the ship in his novel Ultramarine: " I went ashore in Shanghai - that time we played cricket against all those swaddies, with the firemen from H.M.S. Danae looking on." (Pg. 58). Lowry refers to the same cricket match in his short story 'China' in which the ship is called H.M.S. Proteus. There is no record of H.M.S. Danae being in Shanghai in 1927 when Lowry was in the port on board S.S. Pyrrhus. It is possible that Lowry may have noted the ship's name as he passed through the Mediterranean en route to the Far East in 1927.