HMS Jervis Bay (F40)
|Name:||HMS Jervis Bay|
|Builder:||Vickers Limited, Barrow-in-Furness|
|Launched:||1922, as SS Jervis Bay|
|Fate:||Sunk, 5 November 1940|
|Type:||Armed Merchant Cruiser|
|Displacement:||14,164 long tons (14,391 t)|
|Length:||549 ft (167 m)|
|Beam:||68 ft (21 m)|
|Draft:||33 ft (10 m)|
|Speed:||15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
• 7 × 6 in (152 mm) Mk. VII guns|
• 2 × 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns
The ship was originally the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line steamer Jervis Bay named after the Australian bay (the line named all of its ships after bays). She had been taken over by the Royal Navy in August 1939 on the outbreak of the Second World War and hastily armed with a few World War I vintage 6-inch guns. She was initially assigned to the South Atlantic station before becoming a convoy escort in May 1940.
She was the sole escort for 37 merchant ships in Convoy HX-84 from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain, when the convoy encountered the Admiral Scheer. The Captain of Jervis Bay, Edward Fegen, ordered the convoy to scatter and closed with the German warship. The 11-inch guns of the German ship easily outranged Jervis Bay and she was sunk with the loss of 190 crew. However, while Admiral Scheer went on to sink five merchant ships out of the convoy, Jervis Bay's sacrifice bought enough time for the convoy to scatter, and the remaining ships escaped. Sixty-five survivors from Jervis Bay (Captain Fegen not amongst them) were picked up by the neutral Swedish ship Stureholm.
Captain Fegen was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross as a result of this action. The citation for the Victoria Cross reads "Valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect."
There is a monument to Jervis Bay at Albouy's Point, in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bermuda was a formation point for trans-Atlantic convoys in both World Wars. There is a monument to Captain Fegen and the crew of Jervis Bay at Ross Memorial Park in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. This is the port where she was refitted for war service in the summer of 1940. In 2006 the town of Wick erected a plaque to the Caithness members who died in the sinking of the ship. The ship was crewed extensively from Caithness, and Wick in particular.
There was also a monument, which meant perhaps more to the merchant mariners whom Captain Fegen protected, in London. The main room of the Merchant Navy Hotel (closed, 2002) was known as the "Jervis Bay Room", and included a display detailing the action. It was the custom for everyone entering the room to salute the display.
- Ralph Segman and Gerald Duskin, If the Gods are Good: The Epic Sacrifice of HMS Jervis Bay (Naval Institute Press, 2004)