HMS Afridi (F07)
|Ordered:||10 March 1936|
|Builder:||Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle-on-Tyne|
|Laid down:||9 June 1936|
|Launched:||8 June 1937|
|Completed:||29 April 1938|
|Commissioned:||3 May 1938|
|Identification:||Pennant number L07, later F07|
|Fate:||Sunk, 3 May 1940 by Ju-87 Stuka dive bombers off Norway|
|Badge:||On a Field barry wavy, Blue and White, issuing from the base an Afridi's head and shoulders affronte proper.|
|General characteristics (as built)|
|Class and type:||Tribal-class destroyer|
|Length:||377 ft (115 m) (o/a)|
|Beam:||36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)|
|Draught:||11 ft 3 in (3.43 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 × shafts; 2 × geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)|
|Range:||5,700 nmi (10,600 km; 6,600 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
She was ordered from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne yards of Vickers-Armstrong on 10 March 1936 under the 1935 Build Programme. She was laid down on 9 June that year and was launched on 8 June 1937 by Lady Foster. Also launched on that same day from the same yard was Cossack, Afridi's sister ship. Afridi was completed and commissioned on 3 May 1938 at a cost of £341,462 which excluded supply of weapons and communications outfits by the Admiralty. During her trials Afridi made 34.879 knots (64.596 km/h; 40.138 mph) at 355.6 RPM with 44,720 shp (33,350 kW) at 2,244 long tons (2,280 t).
Pre-war in the Mediterranean
Her acceptance trials took place on 29 April 1938 in a rising gale, but all went well and she was accepted. On commissioning, Afridi was assigned to the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, with the Mediterranean Fleet, which consisted of other Tribal-class destroyers. She left Portland Harbour on 27 May for Malta, arriving there on 3 June. In July, she left Malta to patrol the waters off the Mediterranean Spanish coast. Afridi, in common with all other Royal Navy vessels in these waters, had broad, red, white and blue bands painted on her 'B' gun-mounting so that Spanish Republican and Nationalist aircraft could identify the neutral British.
By 18 September 1938, Afridi arrived at Istanbul, Turkey for a formal visit. The Munich Agreement and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia caused the remainder of the Black Sea cruise to be cancelled. Afridi then sailed for Alexandria, Egypt for a short stay then left to rejoin the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in Malta. On 23 February 1939, Afridi steamed to Gibraltar where the Mediterranean and Home Fleets were gathering for combined exercises. These consisted of over one hundred ships and thirteen Admirals, and resulted in the testing and evaluation of many aspects of naval warfare. Afridi was later withdrawn from the exercises after colliding with the cruiser Penelope during the transfer of mail. Afridi returned to Malta for repairs. After the repairs were completed, she was transferred to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla and sailed to join it at Alexandria. The rest of the pre-war period was spent on exercises and port visits.
Wartime in the North Sea
Italy, which British planners were concerned might enter a war against Britain, took steps to prove her neutrality so the convoy escorts and blockade controls which were anticipated could no longer be justified. The 4th Destroyer Flotilla was therefore ordered back to England. From now on, the flotilla virtually lost its identity and each Tribal was assigned individual duties by the Flag Officer under whose command she came. Afridi was assigned to service in the North Sea with the Humber Force, based at Immingham. In December she was moved to Rosyth to carry out convoy escort duties between the UK and Norway.
By January 1940, a number of defects had become noticeable, including leaks and problems with turbine blades caused Afridi to undergo repairs at a commercial shipyard in West Hartlepool. These repairs lasted throughout February and into March. She rejoined active service in April, under the command of Captain Philip Vian, when she carried out screening duties and escorts for convoys off the Norwegian coast. During these operations she came under heavy and sustained air attacks. The destroyer Gurkha was sunk and the battleship Rodney, and cruisers Glasgow and Southampton were damaged. Afridi escaped damage and returned to refuel and rearm at Scapa Flow. She continued to take part in sweeps off the Norwegian coast, occasionally coming under air attack whilst screening Fleet units or escorting troop convoys.
On 1 May 1940, Afridi was deployed with Fleet units off Namsen Fjord pending the evacuation of the last 5,400 of the 12,000 Allied (British and French) troops in Central Norway, climax of the doomed campaign to capture Trondheim. On 2 May at Namsos she embarked troops of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and transferred them to the French auxiliary cruiser El Kantara and in the few dark hours of 3 May embarked troops of the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. Afridi waited for the 36-man rearguard to reach Namsos. Some shelled transport vehicles and munitions where abandoned quayside. Afridi was the last ship to leave the port. After she joined the Shetland-bound convoy, the troopships and their escorts came under a series of air attacks. At 10.00 hours the French Guépard-class destroyer Bison received a direct hit through the bridge, her forward magazine exploded and she began to sink by the bow. Afridi, and fellow destroyers Imperial and Grenade went to her aid and fought off two more air attacks while rescuing survivors. Imperial and Grenade left to catch up with the convoy, which Afridi also did at midday after sinking the hulk of Bison by gunfire. When she rejoined the convoy at 1400, another dive bombing attack developed. Afridi was targeted by Ju 87 Stukas diving from each side, making evasive manoeuvres ineffectual. She was hit by two bombs, one passing through the wireless telegraphy office and exploding beside No. 1 Boiler Room, the second also hitting the port side just forward of the bridge and starting a severe fire at the after end of the mess decks. Imperial came alongside to port and Griffin to starboard to take aboard survivors, including Captain Philip Vian. At 1445 hours, Afridi capsized and sank bow-first on this, the second anniversary of her commissioning. Fifty-three of her ship's company perished including one officer; in addition thirteen soldiers—the only casualties among the whole force of 12,000 troops evacuated from Åndalsnes and Namsos—and thirty-five of the sixty-nine Frenchmen she had picked up from Bison.
- The Times (London), Wednesday, 9 June 1937, p.13
- March, p.362
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- HMS Afridi at Uboat.net
- HMS Afridi's career