HMS Basilisk (H11)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Basilisk.
HMS Basilisk (H11).jpg
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Basilisk
Namesake: Basilisk
Ordered: 4 March 1929
Builder: John Brown & Company, Clydebank
Cost: £220,342
Yard number: 531[1]
Laid down: 19 August 1929
Launched: 6 August 1930
Completed: 4 March 1931
Identification: Pennant number: H11[2]
Fate: Sunk by air attack, 1 June 1940
General characteristics (as built)
Class & type: B-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,360 long tons (1,380 t) (standard)
1,790 long tons (1,820 t) (deep load)
Length: 323 ft (98.5 m) o/a
Beam: 32 ft 3 in (9.8 m)
Draught: 12 ft 3 in (3.7 m)
Installed power: 34,000 shp (25,000 kW)
3 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Propulsion: 2 × shafts
2 × Brown-Curtis geared steam turbines
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)
Range: 4,800 nmi (8,900 km; 5,500 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 134
Sensors and
processing systems:
Type 119 ASDIC
Armament: 4 × 1 – 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mk IX guns

2 × 1 – QF 2-pounder (40 mm) Mk II AA guns
2 × 4 – 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

20 × depth charges, 1 rail and 2 throwers

HMS Basilisk was a B-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy around 1930. Initially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet, she was transferred to the Home Fleet in 1936. The ship escorted convoys and conducted anti-submarine patrols early in World War II before participating in the Norwegian Campaign. Basilisk was sunk by German aircraft during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.

Description[edit]

Basilisk displaced 1,360 long tons (1,380 t) at standard load and 1,790 long tons (1,820 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 323 feet (98.5 m), a beam of 32 feet 3 inches (9.8 m) and a draught of 12 feet 3 inches (3.7 m).[2] She was powered by Brown-Curtis geared steam turbines,[3] driving two shafts, which developed a total of 34,000 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). Steam for the turbines was provided by three Admiralty 3-drum boilers. Basilisk carried a maximum of 390 long tons (400 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 4,800 nautical miles (8,900 km; 5,500 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).[2] The ship's complement was 134 officers and enlisted men, although it increased to 142 during wartime.[4]

The ship mounted four 45-calibre QF 4.7-inch Mk IX guns in single mounts. For anti-aircraft (AA) defence, Basilisk had two 40-millimetre (1.6 in) QF 2-pounder Mk II AA guns mounted on a platform between her funnels. She was fitted with two above-water quadruple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[4] One depth charge rail and two throwers were fitted; 20 depth charges were originally carried, but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[5] The ship was fitted with a Type 119 ASDIC set to detect submarines by reflections from sound waves beamed into the water.[6]

Career[edit]

The ship was ordered on 4 March 1929 from John Brown & Company at Clydebank, Glasgow, under the 1928 Naval Programme. She was laid down on 19 August 1929, and launched on 6 August 1930,[7] as the eighth RN ship to carry this name.[8] Basilisk was completed on 4 March 1931[9] at a cost of £220,342, excluding items supplied by the Admiralty such as guns, ammunition and communications equipment.[3] After her commissioning, she was assigned to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla with the Mediterranean Fleet until 1936. The flotilla was reassigned to the Home Fleet in September 1936.[10]

In February 1937 Basilisk arrived at the post of Malaga, Spain, captured a few days before by the Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War. Basilisk '​s captain gained the release of Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, a British zoologist resident in Malaga, who was arrested by Franco's troops due to his support of the Spanish Republic.[11]

The ship became the emergency destroyer at Devonport in March 1939 and was assigned to the 19th Destroyer Flotilla when World War II began.[10]

Basilisk spent the next two months escorting convoys and patrolling in the English Channel and the North Sea. The ship and her sister Blanche were escorting the minelayer Adventure on the morning of 13 November in the Thames Estuary when they entered a minefield laid the night before by several German destroyers. Adventure and Blanche both struck mines; the latter lost all power and later capsized whilst under tow.[12] Basilisk continued to escort convoys and patrol until April 1940 when the Norwegian Campaign began. On 24 April, the ship, together with the destroyers Wren and Hesperus, escorted the battleship Resolution to Narvik on 24 April. In early May, she escorted the troopship Empress of Australia to Norway.[10] Basilisk supported the Allied landings on 12–13 May at Bjerkvik during the Battle of Narvik.[13]

The ship was transferred from the Western Approaches Command on 30 May to support the evacuation from Dunkirk.[14] She made two trips to Dover during the following day and evacuated a total of 695 men.[15] Basilisk returned to La Panne to load more troops on the morning of 1 June and was attacked three times by German bombers. One bomb from the first wave detonated inside the No. 3 boiler room, killed all of her boiler and engine room personnel, fractured her steam lines and knocked out all her machinery. Near misses from the same attack buckled the sides of her hull and her upper deck. The ship's torpedoes and depth charges were jettisoned to reduce topweight and the French fishing trawler Jolie Mascotte attempted to tow Basilisk. A second attack caused no further damage, but caused the French ship to drop the tow. The third attack around noon sank Basilisk[16][17] in shallow water at 51°08′16″N 02°35′06″E / 51.13778°N 2.58500°E / 51.13778; 2.58500. Jolie Mascotte and the destroyer Whitehall rescued eight officers and 123 crewmen from the ship.[10] Whitehall then destroyed the wreck with gunfire and torpedoes.[18]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "HMS Basilisk". Clydebuilt Ships Database. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Whitley, p. 99
  3. ^ a b March, p. 260
  4. ^ a b Friedman, p. 298
  5. ^ English, p. 141
  6. ^ Friedman, p. 205
  7. ^ English, pp. 29–30
  8. ^ Colledge, p. 33
  9. ^ English, p. 30
  10. ^ a b c d English, p. 32
  11. ^ Arthur Koestler, "The Invisible Writing", Ch. 34. Koestler had been staying with Chalmers Mitchell and was arrested along with him.
  12. ^ English, p. 34
  13. ^ Haarr, pp. 246–47
  14. ^ Gardner, p. 61
  15. ^ Winser, p. 82
  16. ^ Gardner, pp. 90–91
  17. ^ Winser, p. 28
  18. ^ Gardner, p. 91

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Commonwealth Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.