Black Swan-class sloop

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HMS Black Swan 1945 IWM FL 2274.jpg
HMS Black Swan in April 1945
Class overview
Name: Black Swan class
Operators: Royal Navy
Royal Indian Navy
Built: 1938–1946
In commission: 1939–1967
Planned: 42
Completed: 12 (original) + 25 (modified)
Cancelled: 5
Lost: 6
General characteristics
Type: Sloop-of-war
Displacement: 1,250 tons original
1,350 tons modified
Length: 299 ft 6 in (91.29 m)
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m) original
38 ft 6 in (11.73 m) modified
Draught: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Propulsion: Geared turbines, 2 shafts:
3,600 hp (2.68 MW) (original)
4,300 hp (3.21 MW) (modified)
Speed: 19 knots (35 km/h) (original)
20 knots (37 km/h) (modified)
Range: 7,500 nmi (13,900 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h)
Complement: 180 (original)
192 (modified)
Armament:

6 × QF 4 in (102 mm) Mk XVI AA guns (3 × 2)
4 × 2-pounder AA pom-pom
4 × 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) AA machine guns (original)
12 × 20 mm Oerlikon AA (6 × 2) (modified)

Depth charges 40 (110 modified)

The Black Swan class and Modified Black Swan class were two classes of sloop of the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy. Twelve Black Swans were launched between 1939 and 1943, including four for the Royal Indian Navy; twenty-five Modified Black Swans were launched between 1942 and 1945, including two for the Royal Indian Navy; several other ships were cancelled (see below).

History[edit]

Like corvettes, sloops of that period were specialised convoy-defence vessels, except that sloops were larger, faster, possessed much superior anti-aircraft fire control via the Fuze Keeping Clock and a heavy armament of high angle 4 inch guns while retaining excellent anti-submarine capability. They were designed to have a longer range than a destroyer at the expense of a lower top speed, while remaining capable of outrunning surfaced Type VII and Type IX U-boats.

In World War II, Black Swan-class sloops sank 29 U-boats. The most famous sloop commander was Captain Frederic John Walker. His sloop Starling became one of the most successful submarine hunters, taking part in the sinking of eleven U-boats.

After the war, sloops continued in service with the Royal Navy, Egyptian Navy, Indian Navy, Pakistan Navy and the West German Navy. In April 1949, Amethyst was attacked on the Yangtze River by the Communist People's Liberation Army.

Also, several Black Swan sloops fought in the Korean War.

Black Swan class[edit]

Royal Navy

The first two ships were built under the 1937 Programme, being ordered from Yarrow and Company, Scotstoun, on 1 March 1939. The second pair was built under the 1939 Programme, being ordered from Furness Shipbuilding Company on 21 June 1939. A further ten RN ships were ordered under the 1940 War Programme on 13 April 1940; however six of these (the orders placed with White of Cowes, Thornycroft at Woolston, and Swan Hunter on Tyneside for two ships each) were subsequently replaced by orders for an equal number of Hunt Class escort destroyers.

There were incremental improvements as the building developed, and the Woodcock and Wren when completed were practically indistinguishable from the Modified Black Swan class.

Name Pennant Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Flamingo L18
later U18
Yarrow, Scotstoun 26 May 1938 18 April 1939 3 November 1939 Transferred to West Germany as Graf Spee 21 January 1959. Sold for breaking up 25 October 1967.
Black Swan L57
later U57
Yarrow, Scotstoun 20 June 1938 7 July 1939 27 January 1940 Sold for breaking up 13 September 1956.
Erne U03 Furness Sbdg, Haverton Hill-on-Tees 22 September 1939 5 August 1940 26 April 1941 Became RNVR training ship Wessex on the Solent 4 June 1952, broken up October 1965.
Ibis U99 Furness Sbdg, Haverton Hill-on-Tees 22 September 1939 28 November 1940 30 August 1941 Sunk by Italian torpedo bombers off Algiers on 10 November 1942.
Whimbrel U29 Yarrow, Scotstoun 31 October 1941 25 August 1942 13 January 1943 Transferred to Egypt as El Malek Farouq November 1949, renamed Tarik 1954.
Wild Goose U45 Yarrow, Scotstoun 28 January 1942 14 October 1942 11 March 1943 Sold for breaking up 27 February 1956.
Woodpecker U08 Denny, Dunbarton 23 February 1941 29 June 1942 14 December 1942 Sunk by U-256 on 27 February 1944.
Wren U28 Denny, Dunbarton 27 February 1941 11 August 1942 4 February 1943 Sold for breaking up 2 February 1956.

Royal Indian Navy

Two ships were ordered under the 1939 Programme, the order being placed with Denny on 8 September 1939. The second pair were ordered under the 1940 Programme, this order with Thornycroft being placed on 29 August 1940. The first two were used as survey ships after the War. The second pair were transferred to the Pakistan Navy in 1948. The third pair (which were of the Modified Black Swan class – see below)

Name Pennant Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Sutlej U95 Denny, Dunbarton 4 January 1940 1 October 1940 23 April 1941 Survey vessel 1955. Paid off at end 1978 and deleted 1982 or 1983.
Jumna U21 Denny, Dunbarton 28 February 1940 16 November 1940 13 May 1941 Survey vessel 1957. Renamed INS Jamuna 1968, paid off at end 1980 and broken up.
Narbada U40 Thornycroft, Woolston 30 August 1941 21 November 1942 29 April 1943 Renamed Jhelum 1948. Sold to be broken up 15 July 1959.
Godavari U52 Thornycroft, Woolston 30 October 1941 21 January 1943 28 June 1943 Renamed Sind 1948. Sold for breaking up 2 June 1959.
Kistna U46 Yarrow, Scotstoun 14 July 1942 22 April 1943 26 August 1943 Renamed INS Krishna 1968. Paid off at end 1981 and broken up.
Cauvery U10 Yarrow, Scotstoun 28 October 1942 15 June 1943 21 October 1943 Renamed INS Kaveri 1968. Sold 1979.

Modified Black Swan class[edit]

Royal Navy

Fourteen sloops for the RN were in the 1940 Supplementary War Programme. The first two were ordered from Denny, Dunbarton, on 9 January 1941, ten more were ordered on 27 March 1941 (two each from Cammell Laird, Scotts, Thornycroft, Yarrow and John Brown), and a final pair from Fairfield, Govan, on 18 July 1941. The contract with John Brown was transferred to Devonport Dockyard on 3 March 1942, and then to Denny on 8 December 1942.

Name Pennant Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Chanticleer U05 Denny, Dunbarton 6 June 1941 24 September 1942 29 March 1943 Constructive total loss following torpedoing on 18 November 1943 by U-515 (Henke). Renamed Lusitania 31 December 1943 as a base ship, then broken up at Lisbon 1945.
Crane U23 Denny, Dunbarton 13 June 1941 9 November 1942 10 May 1943 Broken up March 1965.
Cygnet U38 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 30 August 1941 28 July 1942 1 December 1942 Broken up 16 March 1956.
Kite U87 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 25 September 1941 13 October 1942 1 March 1943 Sunk by U-344 on 21 August 1944.
Lapwing U62 Scotts, Greenock 17 December 1941 16 July 1943 21 March 1944 Sunk by U-968 on 20 March 1945 just outside Murmansk, USSR.
Lark U11 Scotts, Greenock 5 May 1942 28 August 1943 10 April 1944 Constructive total loss following torpedoing by U-968 off Kola Inlet on 17 February 1945; salved by Soviet Navy and added as Neptun, finally broken up 1956.
Magpie U82 Thornycroft, Woolston 30 December 1941 24 March 1943 30 August 1943 Broken up 12 July 1959.
Peacock U96 Thornycroft, Woolston 29 November 1942 11 December 1943 10 May 1944 Broken up 7 May 1958.
Pheasant U49 Yarrow, Scotstoun 17 March 1942 21 December 1942 12 May 1943 Broken up January 1963.
Redpole U69 Yarrow, Scotstoun 18 May 1942 25 February 1943 24 June 1943 Broken up 20 November 1960.
Snipe U20 Denny, Dunbarton 21 September 1944 20 December 1945 9 September 1946 Broken up 23 August 1960.
Sparrow U71 Denny, Dunbarton 30 October 1944 18 February 1946 16 December 1946 Broken up 26 May 1958.
Starling U66 Fairfield, Govan 21 October 1941 14 October 1942 1 April 1943 Broken up July 1965.
Woodcock U90 Fairfield, Govan 21 October 1941 26 November 1942 29 May 1943 Sold for breaking up 28 November 1955.

Another fourteen ships were authorised in the 1941 Programme, but the last three ships (the names Star, Steady and Trial had been approved) were not ordered under this programme. The first of the eleven actually ordered was contracted with Thornycroft on 3 December 1941, with a further pair from Stephens, Linthouse, on 18 December. Eight more were ordered in 1942, two on 11 February, two on 3 March (originally from Portsmouth Dockyard), two on 12 August and two on 5 October. However the order for two sloops were ordered at Portsmouth was moved to Chatham Dockyard on 21 June 1943, and they were laid down there, but were cancelled on 15 October 1945.

Name Pennant Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Actaeon U07 Thornycroft, Woolston 15 May 1944 25 July 1945 24 July 1946 Transferred to West Germany as Hipper 9 December 1958. Hulked July 1964, sold for breaking up 25 October 1967.
Amethyst U16 Alex. Stephen, Linthouse 25 March 1942 7 May 1943 2 November 1943 Broken up 18 January 1957.
Hart U58 Alex. Stephen, Linthouse 27 March 1942 7 July 1943 12 December 1943 Transferred to West Germany as Scheer 1958. Sold for breaking up 17 March 1971.
Hind U39 Denny, Dunbarton 31 August 1942 30 September 1943 11 April 1944 Broken up 10 December 1958.
Mermaid U30 Denny, Dunbarton 8 September 1942 11 November 1943 12 May 1944 Transferred to West Germany as Scharnhorst 5 May 1950. Hulked 1974, and broken up April 1990.
Alacrity U60 Denny, Dunbarton 4 May 1943 1 September 1944 13 April 1945 Broken up 15 September 1956.
Opossum U33 Denny, Dunbarton 28 July 1943 30 November 1944 16 June 1945 Broken up 26 April 1960.
Modeste U42 Chatham Dockyard 15 February 1943 29 January 1944 3 September 1945 Broken up 11 March 1961.
Nereide U64 Chatham Dockyard 15 February 1943 29 January 1944 6 May 1946 Broken up 18 May 1958.
Nonsuch U54 Portsmouth Dockyard, later moved to Chatham Dockyard 26 February 1945 Cancelled 15 October 1945.
Nymphe U84 Portsmouth Dockyard, later moved to Chatham Dockyard 26 February 1945 Cancelled 15 October 1945.

Two more sloops were authorised in the 1942 Programme; the names would have been Waterhen and Wryneck but they were never ordered in that year's Programme. The 1944 Programme re-instated these two vessels, as well as the twelfth sloop authorised under the 1941 Programme, and now named as Partridge. These three ships were ordered on 9 October 1944, but they were all cancelled on 15 October 1945. These had been intended to be further modified and enlarged, with a beam of 38 feet 6 inches (11.73 m). Two further ships planned under the 1944 Programme would have been named Woodpecker (ii) and Wild Swan, but these were never ordered and the intention to build was dropped when the 1945 Programme was compiled.

Royal Indian Navy

Two ships for the Indian Navy were included in the 1941 Programme, the order being placed with Yarrow on 10 September 1941. Construction dates are tabulated above.

Losses[edit]

In World War II
  • Ibis was sunk by Italian torpedo bombers off Algiers on 10 November 1942
  • Woodpecker was seriously damaged by an acoustic homing torpedo fired by U-256 on 20 February 1944 whilst escorting convoy ON-224. The ship sank a week later on 27 February whilst under tow during an Atlantic storm.
  • Kite was sunk by U-344 on 21 August 1944 whilst the ship was escorting aircraft carriers which were covering the Arctic convoy JW-59.
  • Lark was damaged beyond repair by U-968 on 17 February 1945
  • Lapwing was sunk by U-968 on 20 March 1945 just outside Murmansk, USSR.

U-boat kills[edit]

Reassessments[edit]

During the war the Starling was credited, along with the sloops Amethyst, Peacock, Hart, and frigate Loch Craggie, with sinking the U-482 in the North Channel on 16 January 1945. The British Admiralty withdrew this credit in a post-war reassessment.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Blair (2000), 630–631.
Bibliography
  • Blair, Clay (2000). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted 1942–1945. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-64033-9. 
  • Hague, Arnold (1993). Sloops: A History of the 71 Sloops Built in Britain and Australia for the British, Australian and Indian Navies 1926–1946. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-67-3. 

External links[edit]