Castle-class corvette

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HMS Denbigh Castle
Class overview
Operators:  Royal Navy
Canada Royal Canadian Navy
 Royal Norwegian Navy
General characteristics
Type: Corvette
Displacement: 1,060 long tons (1,077 t)
Length: 252 ft (77 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Draught: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Installed power: 2,750 hp (2.05 MW)
Propulsion: 2 × water-tube boilers
1 × 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine
Single screw
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Range: 9,500 nmi (17,600 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 112
Sensors and
processing systems:
Type 272 radar
Type 144Q sonar
Type 147B sonar
Armament:

1 × 4-inch (102-mm) Quick Firing Mk.XIX High Angle/Low Angle combined air/surface gun
1 × Squid anti-submarine mortar
1 × depth charge rail, 15 depth charges
2 × 20 mm twin anti-aircraft cannon

6 × 20 mm single anti-aircraft cannon

The Castle-class corvettes were an updated version of the much more numerous Flower-class corvettes of the Royal Navy, and started appearing during late 1943. They were equipped with radar as well as asdic.

Design[edit]

The Admiralty had decided to cease Flower-class construction in favour of the larger River-class frigates as the Flower-class had originally been intended for coastal escort work and were not entirely satisfactory for Atlantic convoy service. In particular, they were slow, poorly armed, and rolled badly in rough seas which quickly exhausted their crews. However, many shipyards were not large enough to build frigates. The Castle-class was designed to be built on small slipways for about half the overall effort of a Loch-class frigate. The Loch-class frigate was similar to a River, but built using the system of prefabrication.[1]

The appearance of Castle-class corvettes was much like the later "long forecastle" variant of the Flowers and they were a little larger (around 1,200 tons – about 200 tons more than the Flowers, and 40 ft (12 m) longer).

The most obvious visual difference was the lattice mainmast instead of the pole version fitted to the Flowers. There was also a more square cut look to the stern although it was still essentially a cruiser spoon type, this difference was only visible from abaft the beam.

The armament was similar except that the depth charge fitment had been replaced by one Squid anti-submarine mortar. Hadleigh Castle received the first production Squid mounting.

The propulsion machinery was identical to the Flowers, and experienced officers felt that they were seriously under powered, having a tendency to turn into the wind despite everything the helmsman could do. The fact that Squid attacks required a fairly low speed (compared to depth charge attacks) only made matters worse.

Most of the Castle-class corvettes had been discarded by the end of the 1950s, but a few survived a little longer as weather ships. The last Castle was the Uruguayan training ship Montevideo, originally HMS Rising Castle, which was scrapped in 1975.

Most were operated by the Royal Navy, but twelve were transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy before completion and one to the Royal Norwegian Navy. Three Castles were sunk through enemy action, and Castles participated in the sinking of seven U-boats.

Ships[edit]

Royal Canadian Navy[edit]

The following vessels were all originally built for the Royal Navy, but were transferred to the RCN on completion (for details of builders and construction dates see under Royal Navy below). All their pennant numbers (except Hedingham Castle, which was never completed), as well as their names, were changed when transferred.

Royal Navy[edit]

The initial Castle was the Allington Castle, re-ordered on 9 December 1942 (from the previous order placed for a Modified Flower-class corvette named Amaryllis); another 13 vessels were ordered on 19 December, also under the 1942 War Programme.

Pennant Name (a) Hull builder Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Paid Off Fate
K689 Allington Castle Fleming & Ferguson 9 December 1942 22 July 1943 29 February 1944 19 June 1944 1947 Scrapped 1958
K412 Bamborough Castle John Lewis & Co. Ltd 9 December 1942 1 July 1943 11 January 1944 30 May 1944 1950 Scrapped 22 May 1959
K690 Caistor Castle John Lewis & Co. Ltd 9 December 1942 26 August 1943 22 May 1944 29 September 1944 1947 Scrapped March 1956
K696 Denbigh Castle John Lewis & Co. Ltd 9 December 1942 30 September 1943 5 Augusut 1944 30 December 1944 Declared Constructive Total Loss, 13 February 1945
K413 Farnham Castle John Crown & Sons Ltd 9 December 1942 25 June 1943 25 April 1944 31 January 1945 1947 Scrapped, 31 October 1960
K529 Hedingham Castle John Crown & Sons Ltd 9 December 1942 2 November 1943 30 October 1944 12 May 1945 August 1945 Scrapped, April 1958
K355 Hadleigh Castle Smiths Dock Company 9 December 1942 4 April 1943 21 June 1943 18 September 1943 August 1946 Scrapped, January 1959
K420 Kenilworth Castle Smiths Dock Company 9 December 1942 7 May 1943 17 August 1943 22 November 1943 1948 Scrapped, 20 June 1959
K691 Lancaster Castle Fleming & Ferguson 9 December 1942 10 September 1943 14 April 1944 15 September 1944 1947 Scrapped, 20 June 1959
K443 Maiden Castle Fleming & Ferguson 9 December 1942 1943 8 June 1944 November 1944 Became rescue ship Empire Lifeguard before completion. Scrapped, 22 July 1955
K447 Norham Castle (originally Totnes Castle) A. & J. Inglis 9 December 1942 30 September 1943 12 April 1944 6 September 1944 Transferred to Canada as HMCS Humberstone 1944. Sold for mercantile service 1947
K530 Oakham Castle A. & J. Inglis 9 December 1942 30 September 1943 20 July 1944 10 December 1944 1950 Became the weather ship Weather Reporter 1957.
K450 Pembroke Castle Ferguson Shipbuilders 9 December 1942 3 June 1943 12 February 1944 29 June 1944 Transferred to Canada as HMCS Tillsonburg in 1944. Sold for mercantile service 1947. Sold to Republic of China as Kao Tan 1952
K695 Rayleigh Castle Ferguson Shipbuilders 9 December 1942 1943 12 June 1944 October 1944 Became rescue ship Empire Rest before completion.

The remaining eighty-one ships were all ordered for the RN under the 1943 War Programme, of which thirty were completed. Fifty-one of these ships (15 from UK shipyards and 36 from Canadian shipyards) which were cancelled late in 1943 are shown separately below.

Fourteen ordered 19 January 1943, of which 3 were cancelled:

  • Alnwick Castle, built by George Brown, at Greenock; begun 12 June 1943, launched 23 May 1944 and completed 11 November 1944. Paid off 1957 and broken up December 1958.
  • Barnard Castle, built by George Brown, at Greenock; begun 1943, launched 3 October 1944 and completed 1945 as convoy rescue ship Empire Shelter.
  • Flint Castle, built by Henry Robb, at Leith; begun 20 April 1943, launched 1 September 1943 and completed 31 December 1943. Paid off March 1956 and broken up 10 July 1958.
  • Guildford Castle, built by Henry Robb, at Leith; begun 25 May 1943, launched 13 November 1943 and completed 11 March 1944; to Canada as HMCS Hespeler, 1944. Sold for mercantile service 1946 (later SS Chilcotin)
  • Hedingham Castle, built by Henry Robb, at Leith; begun 23 July 1943, launched 26 January 1944 and completed 10 May 1944; to Canada as HMCS Orangeville, 1944. Sold for mercantile service 1947; to Republic of China Navy 1951 as Te An.
  • Knaresborough Castle, built by Blyth Dry Dock; begun 22 April 1943, launched 1 September 1943 and completed 5 April 1944. Paid off 1947 and broken up 16 March 1956.
  • Launceston Castle, built by Blyth Dry Dock; begun 27 May 1943, launched 27 November 1943 and completed 20 June 1944. Paid off 1947 and broken up 3 August 1959.
  • Sandgate Castle, built by Smiths Dock, at Middlesbrough; begun 23 June 1943, launched 28 December 1943 and completed 18 May 1944; to Canada as HMCS St. Thomas, 1944. Paid off 22 November 1945 and sold for mercantile service 1946 (later SS Camosun III).
  • Tamworth Castle built by Smiths Dock, at Middlesbrough; begun 25 August 1943, launched 26 January 1944 and completed 3 July 1944; to Canada as HMCS Kincardine. Paid off 17 February 1946 and sold for mercantile service 1946.
  • Walmer Castle, built by Smiths Dock, at Middlesbrough; begun 23 September 1943, launched 10 March 1944 and completed 5 September 1944; to Canada as HMCS Leaside. Paid off 16 November 1945 and sold for mercantile service 1946 (later SS Coquitlam II).
  • York Castle, built by Ferguson Brothers, at Port Glasgow; begun 1944, launched 20 September 1944 and completed February 1945 as convoy rescue ship SS Empire Comfort.

Sixteen ordered 23 January 1943, of which five were cancelled:

  • Hever Castle, built by Blyth Dry Dock; begun 29 June 1943, launched 24 February 1944 and completed 15 August 1944; to Canada as HMCS Copper Cliff, 1944. Sold for mercantile service 1947, then became Chinese (People's Liberation Army) 1949.
  • Leeds Castle, built by William Pickergill, at Sunderland; begun 22 April 1943, launched 12 October 1943 and completed 15 February 1944. Paid off November 1956 and broken up 5 June 1958.
  • Morpeth Castle, built by William Pickergill, at Sunderland; begun 23 June 1943, launched 26 November 1943 and completed 13 July 1944. Paid off 1946 and broken up 9 August 1960.
  • Nunney Castle, built by William Pickergill, at Sunderland; begun 12 August 1943, launched 26 January 1944 and completed 8 October 1944; to Canada as HMCS Bowmanville, 1944. Sold for mercantile service 1946, then became Chinese (People's Liberation Army) Kuang Chou 1949.
  • Oxford Castle, built by Harland and Wolff, at Belfast; begun 21 June 1943, launched 11 December 1943 and completed 10 March 1944. Paid off 1946 and broken up 6 September 1960.
  • Pevensey Castle, built by Harland and Wolff, at Belfast; begun 21 June 1943, launched 11 January 1944 and completed 10 June 1944. Paid off February 1946 and became weather ship Weather Monitor in 1959.
  • Rising Castle, built by Harland and Wolff, at Belfast; begun 21 June 1943, launched 8 February 1944 and completed 26 June 1944; to Canada as HMCS Arnprior, 1944. Paid off 14 March 1946 and transferred to Uruguay as Montevideo.
  • Scarborough Castle, built by Fleming & Ferguson, at Paisley; begun 1944, launched 8 September 1944 and completed January 1945 as convoy rescue ship Empire Peacemaker)
  • Sherborne Castle, built by Harland and Wolff, at Belfast; begun 21 June 1943, launched 24 February 1944 and completed 14 July 1944; to Canada as HMCS Petrolia, 1944. Paid off 8 March 1946 and sold for mercantile service 1946.
  • Tintagel Castle, built by Ailsa, at Troon; begun 29 April 1943, launched 13 December 1943 and completed 7 April 1944. Paid off August 1956 and broken up June 1958.
  • Wolvesey Castle, built by Ailsa, at Troon; begun 1 June 1943, launched 24 February 1944 and completed 15 June 1944; to Canada as HMCS Huntsville, 1944. Paid off 15 February 1946 and sold for mercantile service 1947.

Five ordered 2 February 1943:

Pennant Name (a) Hull builder Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Paid Off Fate
K386 Amberley Castle S P Austin & Son Ltd 2 February 1943 31 May 1943 25 November 1943 24 November 1944 1947 Became the weather ship Weather Adviser in 1960
K387 Berkeley Castle Barclay Curle 2 February 1943 23 April 1943 19 August 1943 18 November 1944 1946 Scrapped 24 February 1956
K379 Carisbrooke Castle Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company 2 February 1943 12 March 1943 31 July 1943 17 November 1943 1947 Scrapped 14 June 1958
K388 Dumbarton Castle Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company 2 February 1943 6 May 1943 28 September 1943 25 February 1944 1947 Scrapped March 1961
K416 Hurst Castle Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company 2 February 1943 6 August 1943 23 February 1944 9 June 1944 Sunk by U-482 on 1 September 1944

Three ordered 6 February 1943:

Pennant Name (a) Hull builder Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Paid Off Fate
K362 Portchester Castle Swan Hunter 6 February 1943 17 March 1943 21 June 1943 8 November 1943 1947 Scrapped 14 May 1958
K372 Rushen Castle Swan Hunter 6 February 1943 8 April 1943 16 July 1943 24 February 1944 1946 Became the weather ship Weather Surveyor in 1960
K374 Shrewsbury Castle Swan Hunter 6 February 1943 5 May 1943 16 August 1943 24 April 1944 Transferred to Norway on completion and renamed HNoMS Tunsberg Castle. Sunk by mine 12 December 1944

Two ordered 3 March 1943, three ordered 4 May 1943 and two ordered 10 July 1943 were all cancelled, as were all thirty-six ordered from Canadian shipyards on 15 March 1943.

Royal Norwegian Navy[edit]

Cancelled[edit]

15 ships ordered for the Royal Navy from UK shipyards as part of the 1943 Programme were all cancelled on 31 October 1943:

  • Caldecot Castle – ordered 19 January 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Dover Castle – ordered 19 January 1943 from A. & J. Inglis, Glasgow.
  • Dudley Castle – ordered 19 January 1943 from A. & J. Inglis, Glasgow.
  • Bere Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Calshot Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Monmouth Castle (originally to have been Peel Castle) – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Lewis & Sons, Aberdeen.
  • Rhuddlan Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Crown & Sons, Sunderland.
  • Thornbury Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from Ferguson Brothers, Port Glasgow.
  • Appleby Castle – ordered 3 March 1943 from Austin, at Sunderland.
  • Tonbridge Castle – ordered 3 March 1943 from Austin, at Sunderland.
  • Norwich Castle – ordered 4 May 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Oswestry Castle – ordered 4 May 1943 from John Crown & Sons, Sunderland.
  • Pendennis Castle – ordered 4 May 1943 from John Crown & Sons, Sunderland.
  • Alton Castle – ordered 10 July 1943 from Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley.
  • Warkworth Castle – ordered 10 July 1943 from Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley.

36 ships were ordered on 15 March 1943 for the Royal Navy from Canadian shipyards for completion between May 1944 and June 1945, but were all cancelled in December 1943:

  • Aydon Castle
  • Barnwell Castle
  • Beeston Castle
  • Bodiam Castle
  • Bolton Castle
  • Bowes Castle
  • Bramber Castle
  • Bridgnorth Castle
  • Brough Castle
  • Canterbury Castle
  • Carew Castle
  • Chepstow Castle
  • Chester Castle
  • Christchurch Castle
  • Clare Castle
  • Clavering Castle
  • Clitheroe Castle
  • Clun Castle
  • Colchester Castle
  • Corfe Castle
  • Cornet Castle
  • Cowes Castle
  • Cowling Castle
  • Criccieth Castle
  • Cromer Castle
  • Devizes Castle
  • Dunster Castle
  • Egremont Castle
  • Fotheringay Castle
  • Helmsley Castle
  • Malling Castle
  • Malmesbury Castle
  • Raby Castle
  • Trematon Castle
  • Tutbury Castle
  • Wigmore Castle

Castles sunk or destroyed in action[edit]

U-boats sunk by Castles[edit]

Film appearance[edit]

The final third of the film The Cruel Sea is set on the Castle-class corvette Saltash Castle (portrayed by Portchester Castle).

Post-war conversions[edit]

Three were converted to passenger/cargo ships for the Union Steamship Company of British Columbia, and were known as the White Boats (see Twigg). They were operated from 1946 to 1958, but were heavy on fuel and had limited cargo capacity, for example they could not carry cars in the hold.

  • SS Camosun III — ex-HMCS St. Thomas, HMS Sandgate Castle
  • SS Chilcotin — ex-HMCS Hespeler, HMS Guildford Castle
  • SS Coquitlam II — ex-HMCS Leaside, HMS Walmer Castle

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Brown DK p 131

References[edit]

  • Friedman, Norman: British Destroyers and Frigates: the Second World War and After (2006) Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-137-6.
  • Twigg, Arthur M: Union Steamships Remembered: 1920–1958 (1997) ISBN 1-55056-516-8.
  • Brown DK Nelson to Vanguard

External links[edit]