Built by Hawthorn Leslie and Company in Hebburn, Tyneside, United Kingdom. Ordered November 1, 1932. Laid down March 15, 1933. Launched February 15, 1934. Commissioned September 13, 1934 and attached to the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet.
After the sinking of HMS Repulse, the HMS Electra and HMAS Vampire rescued survivors in the water. Even after being rescued, some Repulse sailors manned action stations aboard Electra, to free them to rescue more survivors. In total, Electra rescued 571 of the 1,285 rescued. Afterwards, Electra and the other destroyers returned to Singapore to drop off the survivors.
On February 28, 1942 during the Battle
of the Java Sea sunk by gunfire from IJN destroyers Asagumo and Minegumo while protecting HMS
Exeter withdraw towards the Sunda Strait. Several hours later, HNMS De
Ruyter and HNMS Java were also sunk.
On August 19, 2003 a group of divers off MV Empress including Kevin Denlay located the shipwreck of HMS Electra at a depth of approximately 160' / 49 meters. When discovered, the shipwreck was covered with fishing nets.
"No photos were taken of the wreck during this initial discovery. As it turned our we only did one dive to confirm that it was her as
the visibility was very poor at the time and the wreck is almost
completely covered in trawler net. No doubt it was Electra though as we luckily
got a look at her quad torpedo tubes and a glimpse at the open
just aft (where her other set of tubes used to be) and her hull
appears intact along the entire length. I say 'luckily got a look' as although
I swam from bow to stern net completely encased literally every
distinguishable feature. The only other WWII loss in that localized
area was the Dutch destroyer Kortenaer (lost the same day) and
she was configured differently (her torpedoes were mounted in a brace of
three instead of Electra's four) and from all reports Kortenaer
broke in half almost immediately upon being torpedo.
As an aside, you may be interested
to know that Electra herself is nowhere near where any of the Allied
reports state she sank or the after action battle maps drawn by the
Allies show she sunk, but very close to where the Japanese after
battle maps show she sunk. And although no offence is meant, we have
now, with other discoveries we have made elsewhere, consistently
found that the Japanese were far more navigationally accurate and
seemed to have a much better 'idea' of where both their own ships
sank, and also where those they sunk actually went down, as compared
to where the Allies 'thought' they went down."
By 2016, the shipwreck was badly damaged by illegal salvaging for scrap metal.
The Guardian "British second world war shipwrecks in Java Sea destroyed by illegal scavenging" by Oliver Homes and Luke Harding November 16, 2016
"A 100m destroyer, HMS Electra, had also been scavenged, the report found, although a “sizeable section” of the wreck remained."
History of War: "Java Sea Shipwrecks of World War 2: One of the men who found them reflects on their loss" by James Hoare November 23, 2016
Thanks to Kevin
Denlay and Ian Fraser for additional information
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November 16, 2018