Bittern-class sloop

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HMS Stork 1943 IWM FL 22540.jpg
HMS Stork in July 1943
Class overview
Name: Bittern class
Builders: William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton, United Kingdom
John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited, Clyde, UK
J S White & Company, Cowes, UK
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Grimsby class
Succeeded by: Egret class
Lost: 1
Retired: 2
General characteristics
Type: Sloop-of-war
Displacement: 1190 Tons
Length: 266 ft (81 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Propulsion: Geared steam turbines on two shafts
3,300 hp
Speed: 18.75-knot (34.73 km/h)
Complement: 125
Armament: Six 4" AA guns (3 × 2)
Four .5" AA guns (1 × 4)
Enchantress (as designed):
Four 4.7" guns (4 × 1)
Four .5" AA guns (1 × 4)
Depth charges

The Bittern-class sloop was a three ship class of long-range escort vessels used in the Second World War by the Royal Navy.


The Bittern class were built as light, long-range escort ships with limited anti-air capability. They were fitted with Denny-Brown fin stabilisers and a HACS fire control system.

Three ships were built: HMS Enchantress, HMS Bittern and HMS Stork. Enchantress, originally built as Bittern but renamed before being launched in 1934, was the first in the class, and was built as an armed Admiral's yacht. The armament was two single 4.7-inch guns forward and four 3-pounder saluting guns. Anti-aircraft armament was installed at the outbreak of war, however the aft turret was originally replaced with accommodation and the armament was never replaced. The under-construction Enchantress was then renamed Bittern.

The design served as the basis for the Egret and Black Swan-class sloops.

Ships in class[edit]

Ship Builder Launched Fate
Bittern J S White & Company, Cowes 14 July 1937 Sunk by bombing off Namsos, Norway, 30 April 1940
Enchantress John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited, Clydebank 21 December 1934 Sold 1946
Stork William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton 21 April 1936 Broken up 1958

Service history[edit]

Stork was completed as an unarmed survey vessel, and was only armed after the outbreak of war. The third ship in the class was launched as Bittern, and completed as designed, but was lost to air attacks in the Norwegian campaign in 1940. Enchantress survived the war and was sold into civilian service in 1946, being renamed Lady Enchantress. She was broken up in 1952. Stork remained in service until being broken up in 1958.



  • 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. 
  • D.K. Brown, Nelson to Vanguard, 2000 Chatham Publishing
  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946

External links[edit]