HMS Leander was built in His Majesty’s Dockyard Devonport, England, being the name ship for a class of light cruisers. Leander was laid down on 8 September 1930, launched on 24 September 1931 and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 23 March 1933. The ship was acquired by New Zealand in1937, on loan; along with a sister ship HMS Achilles, to replace HM Ships Dunedin and Diomede, respectively.
On 13 July 1943, Leander was with Rear Admiral Walden Lee Ainsworth’s Task Group 36.1 of three light cruisers: Leander and the US ships Honolulu and St. Louis. The task group also included ten destroyers. At 01:00 the Allied ships established radar contact with the Japanese cruiser Jintsu, which was accompanied by five destroyers near Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands. In the ensuing Battle of Kolombangara, Jintsu was sunk and all three Allied cruisers were hit by torpedoes and disabled. Leander was hit by a single torpedo just abaft ‘A’ boiler room. 26 crew from the boiler room and the No.1 4-inch gun mount immediately above were killed or posted missing. The ship was so badly damaged that she took no further part in the war. She was first repaired in Auckland, then proceeded to a full refit in Boston.
She returned to the Royal Navy on 27 August 1945. In 1946 she was involved in the Corfu Channel Incident. She was scrapped in 1950.