ORP Piorun (G65)

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ORP Piorun2.jpg
ORP Piorun returns to Plymouth after the struggle against German battleship Bismarck
Career (POL) Polish Naval Ensign
Name: ORP Piorun (G65)
Namesake: Thunderbolt
Operator: Polish Navy
Ordered: 15 April 1939[1]
Builder: John Brown & Company, Clydebank
Cost: £400,963.16s
Laid down: 26 July 1939
Launched: 7 May 1940 as HMS Nerissa
Completed: 4 November 1940
Acquired: Transferred to Polish Navy in Oct 1940
Commissioned: 4 November 1940
Identification: Pennant number: G65
Fate: Returned to Royal Navy 1946
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Noble
Operator: Royal Navy
Acquired: August 1946
Recommissioned: 26 October 1946
Fate: scrapped 1955
General characteristics
Class & type: N-class destroyer
Armament: • 3x QF 4.7" (120mm) Mk. XII twin mounts

• 1x QF 4" Mk.V (102mm) single mount

• 4x QF 2-pounder AA 'Pom-pom' (40mm) quadruple mount

• 4x QF 20mm Oerlikon single mounts[2]

• 4x Vickers .50 machine gun Mk. III twin mounts

ORP Piorun was an N-class destroyer used by the Polish Navy during the Second World War. The name is Polish for "Thunderbolt".

History[edit]

The ship was built by John Brown & Company of Clydebank, Glasgow. She was laid down in July 1939, launched on 7 May 1940 and completed on 4 November 1940. Initially commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Nerissa, she was later transferred to the Polish Navy as a replacement for the destroyer ORP Grom, which had been lost off the Norwegian coast on 4 May 1940.

Piorun was based in Great Britain and commanded by Commander Eugeniusz Pławski. Between 13 and 15 March 1941, while undergoing repairs in John Brown's shipyard, she took part in the defence of Clydebank against air raids by the Luftwaffe. A memorial to the crew of the ship was later erected in Clydebank.

Bismarck action[edit]

On 22 May 1941, Piorun, with ships of the British 4th Destroyer Flotilla (HMS Cossack, HMS Maori, HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu), commanded by Captain Philip Vian, provided additional escort to troop convoy WS8B en route from Glasgow to the Indian Ocean. On 25 May, Vian's destroyers (including Piorun) were detached from the convoy to join the search for the German battleship Bismarck.

Piorun took part, along with the British destroyers, in the search for the Bismarck (she was the first of the destroyers to spot the German ship). She joined in the shadowing of and torpedo attacks on the Bismarck during the night before Bismarck was sunk. Arriving first on the scene with the British Tribal-class destroyer HMS Maori, Piorun charged at Bismarck by herself, while Maori manoeuvred for position to fire torpedoes. Alone, Piorun exchanged fire with Bismarck for half an hour with neither side scoring any hits -- although after the third salvo, Bismarck missed by only twenty yards, causing Pławski to pull away. According to one report (detailed at the Auschwitz I exhibition, Oświęcim, Poland), Pławski transmitted the message "I am a Pole" before commencing fire on the Bismarck. This manoeuvre and the subsequent withdrawal caused Piorun to lose contact with the Bismarck. Piorun was very low on fuel, so at 5 am, she was ordered home before she had used her torpedoes. Pławski was reluctant to leave the area and ignored Vian's order for an hour before returning to the UK.[3]

Subsequent activity[edit]

She subsequently operated in the Mediterranean, taking part in Operation Halberd, one of the Malta convoys and Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. In 1944 she was transferred to the Home Fleet.

Piorun took part in Operation Deadlight, and took part in the sinking of the captured German Type XXI submarines U-2329, U-2334, U-2335, U-2337, U-2350 and U-2363.

She was returned to the Royal Navy in 1946, as HMS Noble and scrapped in 1955.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ORP Piorun (G 65)". U-boat.net. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Geoffrey B Mason. "HMS Nerissa/Polish Piorun - N-class Destroyer". naval-history.net. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Pursuit: the Sinking of the Bismarck. UK: Book Club Associates. 1975. p. 175.