PA-class patrol ships (Germany)

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Class overview
Name: PA class patrol ship
Builders: Chantier de St Nazaire-Penhoët
Operators:  Kriegsmarine
Planned: 6
Completed: 4
Lost: 3
General characteristics
Type: Corvette[1]
Displacement: 925 long tons (940 t; 1,036 short tons)[2]
Length: 205 ft (62.48 m) o/a[2]
Beam: 33 ft 11.5 in (10.35 m)[2]
Draught: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)[2]
Propulsion:

1939–40 program

Speed: 16 knots (29.6 km/h)
Range:

5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) at 9 knots (16.7 km/h)[2]
3,500 nautical miles (6,482 km) at 12 knots (22.2 km/h)[citation needed]

2,900 nautical miles (5,371 km) at 15 knots (27.8 km/h)[2]
Complement: 85
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament:
  • 1 × 105mm single gun]]
  • 2 × 37mm AA (twin)
  • 2 × 20mm AA (quad)
  • 2 × Mk.II depth charge throwers
  • 2 × depth charge rails with 40 depth charges
  • fitted with minesweeping gear

The Patroullienboot Ausland (PA) class patrol ships were a class of vessels commissioned into the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in the Second World War.

The ships were under construction in French shipyards that were seized by the Germans in 1940 at the Fall of France. Work on them continued under German control but progressed slowly, being subject to reluctance, or even sabotage, by the French workforce. Eventually only four were completed.

The ships were commissioned in 1943–44 and deployed as escort vessels. Three were bombed and sunk by RAF aircraft in 1944; the fourth was sunk as a block ship at Le Havre later the same year.[3]

Background[edit]

The PA class patrol vessels were originally laid down as part of a 1939 order by the French navy for anti-submarine warfare vessels to a British design, called Flower class corvettes in the Royal Navy. They were adapted from a merchant ship design and were suitable for building at merchant yards.

Of the 18 ships ordered, 12 were under construction at British and six at French yards, four of which were at Chantier de St Nazaire-Penhoët. The order was overtaken by events, and none of the ships ordered was completed before the fall of France in June 1940. Saint-Nazaire, with four ships still under construction, fell into German hands, and as the town was in the occupied zone the Germans decided to complete the vessels for use by the German Navy.

Design[edit]

The PA class ships differed in several respects from the original Smiths Dock design, and therefore from the Flower class corvettes in service with the Allies. This reflects their construction history and their intended use.

The PA’s retained the short forecastle which was a feature of the original design, but which the Royal Navy found impractical in heavy weather. Later Allied vessels were given a longer fo'c'sle, and the early ships were altered as they refitted. This did not happen with the PA’s, which retained the un-weatherly short fo'c'sle throughout their service careers.

The PA's had another original feature, the enclosed merchant-style bridge, though it was abandoned in Allied ships.

The focus of the PA's role was as inshore and coastal escorts, where the chief danger was from mines or attack by aircraft and small craft, such as motor torpedo- and gun-boats. A number of changes to their armament and layout were made to reflect this.

The PA’s were equipped with mine-sweeping gear, and to accommodate these items the upswept stern gunwale, a characteristic of the original design, was cut away, producing a flat quarterdeck and simple wire rails.

The PA’s also had an enhanced anti-aircraft (AA) armament; two sets of twin 37 mm AA guns were fitted in a flying bridge amidships and a set of quadruple 20 mm guns was fitted aft. They also had a 20 mm quadruple mount in a tub set on the roof of the bridge; given the Flower's reputation for rolling in any seas, putting such a weight so high up would have done no good for their seaworthiness.[4]

Service history[edit]

On completion the four PA's had relatively short service careers. After a four year building period, none of the ships was in service longer than nine months.

The first to be completed, PA-2, joined 15. Vorpostenflotille ("15th Outpost Flotilla") in September 1943, and took part in general patrol and escort duties, protecting coastal traffic against air and small craft attack in the Channel. She was joined by PA-3 in November 1943 and PA-1 in April 1944.

The ships took part in a number of naval actions. In September 1943 PA-2 was part of a force escorting the freighter Maladi in the Channel when they were attacked by Allied Motor Torpedo Boats and Motor Gun Boats. One escort was damaged in this action and the Maladi sunk.

In January 1944 PA-3 was part of a force that escorted the blockade-runner Münsterland up the Channel, though the Münsterland was protected from ships it was sunk by the coastal artillery at Dover. In February PA-2 and PA-3 were with a force that successfully fought off an attack on the tanker Reckum, bringing her safely to Le Havre. The tanker was later sunk by the Dover batteries.[4]

In June 1944, during the Allied invasion of Europe, German naval units in the area came under persistent air attack. During RAF air raids at Le Havre PA-2 - along with six other escorts - was sunk on 15 June[5] and PA-3 was irreparably damaged on 15–16 June.[6] PA-1 survived until August, but was abandoned when the flotilla fled the town ahead of the Allied advance.[citation needed] PA-4 was unfinished when Nantes was liberated. She was launched as La Telindiére and sunk as a blockship in April 1945.[7] She was raised and scrapped in 1946.[7]

Ships in class[edit]

PA-class patrol ships
Ship Builder Original name Completed Fate
PA-1 Penhoët L'Arquebuse 5 April 44 abandoned 24 Aug. 44
PA-2 Penhoët L'Hallebarde Sept 43 sunk, air attack 15 June 44
PA-3 Penhoët Sabre 16 Nov. 43 damaged beyond repair, air attack 15–16 June 1944
PA-4 Penhoët Poignard not completed Scuttled incomplete August, 1944, sunk as blockship, April 1945

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Conway 1980, p. 62.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Le Masson 1969, p. 25.
  3. ^ Conway 1980, p. 277.
  4. ^ a b per Bock
  5. ^ Le Masson 1969, p. 26.
  6. ^ Le Masson 1969, p. 27.
  7. ^ a b Le Masson 1969, p. 28.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]