York was disabled at Suda Bay in Crete by two Italian explosive motorboats (Italian: barchini esplosivi) of the Italian Regia Marina assault Flotilla Decima Flottiglia MAS, launched by destroyers Crispi and Sella on 26 March 1941.
Τhe two old destroyers were fitted with special cranes to operate assault craft. Six motorboats entered the bay, led by Tenente di vascello Luigi Faggioni, and attacked three targets in pairs; the first was York, second the tanker Pericles and last another ship at anchor.
Three of the attacking boats had various problems, either mechanical or human, due to the extreme temperature conditions, but the other three successfully attacked their targets.
Two motorboats, packed with 330-kilogram (730 lb) charges in the bows, struck York amidships, flooding both boiler rooms and one engine room. Two British seamen were killed. All Italian sailors survived the attack and fell into British hands. The ship was run aground to prevent her from sinking.
The submarine HMS Rover (read here the unknown story of HMS Rover) was used to supply electrical power to operate the cruiser's guns for anti-aircraft defence, but she was later severely damaged by air attack and had to be towed away for repairs.
|In this rare and previously unpublished photo, dated April 1941, HMS Rover is seen in Souda Bay, Crete|
On 18 May, further damage was inflicted by German bombers and the ship was damaged beyond repair.
Her main guns were wrecked by demolition charges on 22 May 1941 when the Allies began to evacuate Crete.
York's wreck was salvaged in February 1952 and towed to Bari to be broken up, beginning on 3 March.