Training Ship Chatham (TS Chatham) takes its name from the HMS Chatham which was one of the first ships in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Chatham was the name ship of type of 2nd-class light cruiser and was first commissioned on 3 December 1912. On October 1st 1920 HMS Chatham was Commissioned into New Zealand Naval Forces. At the outbreak of WWI, Chatham was part of the Light Cruiser Squadron based in the Mediterranean. After service in the Red Sea, she discovered the whereabouts of the German cruiser Konigsberg, up the Rufiji River in November 1914 and sank that ship’s attendant colliers to prevent its escape, also capturing a german merchant ship at this time.
Then in May 1915 Chatham was employed in the Dardanelles campaign and was remembered by many New Zealand soldiers for this service. From 1916-18 Chatham was flagship of the 301 Light Cruiser Squadron with the Grand Fleet but was damaged by a mine on 26 May 1916, so missed the Battle of Jutland. After the Armistice, the ship was placed in reserve until recommissioned for New Zealand.
It had initially been decided that the ship would be primarily manned by the Royal Navy, with personnel on loan to New Zealand. Although when it came to implementing this, the Royal Navy could not provide the necessary personnel. The difficulty was overcome by New Zealand offering short term engagements of three years. which was very attractive to currently serving Royal Navy ratings who were dissatisfied with their conditions of service but still had some years to serve. By this means 293 ratings were recruited, comprising a nucleus crew for Chatham and also Philomel, the balance was made up by Royal Navy Ratings on loan and would eventually be completed by New Zealand recruits.
HMS Chatham was officially commissioned for New Zealand service on 1 October 1920. The ship sailed from Chatham on 18 October 1920 and came to New Zealand via the Azores, West Indies, the Panama Canal, Mexico, San Diego, Honolulu, Fanning Island, Pago Pago, Apia and Suva. Chatham arrived in Auckland on 26 January 1921, being met by the Governor General, sailing again later that day, for Wellington, where it arrived on 28 January.
HMS Chatham went out of NZ service on the 10 May 1924, without a ceremony.