HMNZS Leander

Page 1 – Introduction

The Leander-class cruisers Achilles and Leander were the Royal New Zealand Navy’s main combat units when it succeeded the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy on 1 October 1941 (at which point their designation changed from 'HMS' to 'HMNZS'). New Zealand's biggest warships, they were also to become our most famous.

HMS Achilles won instant immortality in the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939. Leander’s early war was much quieter, although in February 1941 it sank the Italian commerce raider Ramb I in the Indian Ocean.

HMNZS Leander was to see more dramatic action in the Pacific War. In July 1943, fighting alongside US ships, the cruiser confronted a Japanese force in the night-time Battle of Kolombangara. After helping to destroy a Japanese cruiser, the New Zealand vessel was hit by one of the enemy's feared ‘Long Lance’ torpedoes. The crew performed surperbly to save their ship, but 26 seamen were killed. Eventually sent to the US for repairs, Leander would never fight under the New Zealand ensign again.

How to cite this page

'HMNZS Leander', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 10-Jan-2022