HMS Arbutus (K86)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
History
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Arbutus
Namesake: Arbutus
Builder: Blyth Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. Ltd
Laid down: 30 November 1939
Launched: 5 June 1940
Commissioned: 12 October 1940
Identification: Pennant number: K86
Fate: Torpedoed, 5 February 1942
General characteristics [1][2]
Class and type: Flower-class corvette
Displacement: 925 long tons (940 t)
Length: 205 ft (62 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draught: 13.5 ft (4.1 m)
Installed power: 2,750 ihp (2,050 kW)
Propulsion:
  • Two fire tube boilers
  • One 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine,
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph) at 2,750 hp
Range: 3,500 nautical miles at 12 knots (6,500 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 85 men
Armament:

HMS Arbutus was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy, which was active during the Second World War. She was a successful escort vessel, and took part in the destruction of two U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic. Arbutus was sunk in the North Atlantic in February 1942.

Construction[edit]

Arbutus was placed on order in July 1939, one of the first 26 "Flowers" of the pre-war building programme. She was laid down at the Blyth Shipbuilding Company, at Blyth, Northumberland, on 30 November 1939. She was launched on 5 June 1940 and completed 12 October 1940.[3] She commissioned on the same day under the command of Lt.Cdr. H Lloyd Williams RNVR,[4] one of the earliest Volunteer Reserve command appointments.

World War II service[edit]

After trials and working up Arbutus joined Western Approaches Command and was assigned to 6 Escort Group, led by JM Rowland in HMS Wolverine for convoy escort duties. In this role she was engaged in all the duties performed by escort ships; protecting convoys, searching for and attacking U-boats, and rescuing survivors. Over the next 14 months Arbutus escorted 26 convoys on the Atlantic routes,[5][6] helping to bring over 750 ships to safety, though a number were lost in various incidents. She was involved in two convoy battles, and helped destroy two U-boats.

In March 1941, Arbutus, with 6 EG, escorted convoy OB 293 when it came under attack by a force of U-boats. The escort group mounted a vigorous and aggressive defence, resulting in the destruction of two U-boats and damage to a third, for the loss of two ships sunk and three damaged. During the two-night action, on 7 March 1941, Arbutus and Camellia found and attacked U-70; she was depth-charged and brought to the surface, where she was abandoned and sank.[7]

In April 1941 6EG went to the aid of convoy SC 26 which was under attack. On 5 April Arbutus, with Wolverine and Scarborough, found and attacked U-76, which was brought to the surface and abandoned. As she surfaced Arbutus was closing in order to ram her; when he saw she was being abandoned Arbutus' then commander, Lt. ALW Warren, changed plans and attempted to capture the submarine before it sank. U-76 was boarded by several members of the corvette's crew, and efforts were made to secure and search the boat while Arbutus made fast to the U-boat with hawsers. However U-76 was sinking too fast, and the capture failed. This was the first such instance of a U-boat boarding and acquisition in World War II, though it was unsuccessful;[8] the exploit was repeated the following month when U-110 was captured by ships of 3 Escort Group.

Fate[edit]

On 5 February 1942 Arbutus was escorting convoy ON 63 when it was detected by U-136. The U-boat sent a sighting report and commenced shadowing, but the transmission was DFed and escorts Chelsea and Arbutus ran down the bearing to attack. The U-boat commander, K/L H Zimmmerman, responded aggressively, counter-attacking and torpedoing Arbutus as she approached. The corvette broke in half and sank, with the loss of half her crew.[9] 43 men, including her commander, were lost.[10] U-136 was subsequently depth-charged by Chelsea, damaged and forced to abandon her pursuit, saving ON 63 from further harm.[9]

Successes[edit]

During her service Arbutus was credited with sharing in the destruction of two U-boats:

Date U-boat Type Location Notes
7 March 1941 U-70 VIIC N Atlantic, N of Rockall
60°15′N 14°00′W / 60.250°N 14.000°W / 60.250; -14.000
Rammed by Mijdrecht, D/C by Arbutus, Camellia; forced to surface, abandoned, sunk[11][12]
5 April 1941 U-76 VIIB N Atlantic, S of Iceland
58°35′N 20°20′W / 58.583°N 20.333°W / 58.583; -20.333
D/C by Wolverine, Scarborough, boarded by Arbutus; sank due to damage received[13][14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Conway p62
  2. ^ Elliot p84
  3. ^ Elliot p85
  4. ^ Arbutus at uboat.net
  5. ^ A Hague: convoyweb.org.uk
  6. ^ G Mason: navalhistory.net
  7. ^ Blair p249-251
  8. ^ Blair p265-266
  9. ^ a b Blair p550
  10. ^ loss of Arbutus at uboat.net
  11. ^ Kemp p68
  12. ^ Neistle p43
  13. ^ Kemp p69
  14. ^ Neistle p40

References[edit]

  • Clay Blair: Hitler’s U-Boat War Vol I (The Hunters 1939-1942) (1996) ISBN 0-304-35260-8
  • Gardiner R, Chesnau R: Conways All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1922–1946 (1980) ISBN 0-85177-146-7
  • Elliott, P: Allied Escort Ships of World War II (1977) ISBN 0 356 08401 9
  • Arnold Hague: The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945 (2000). ISBN (Canada) 1 55125 033 0 . ISBN (UK) 1 86176 147 3
  • Paul Kemp: U-Boats Destroyed ( 1997). ISBN 1 85409 515 3
  • Axel Neistle: German U-Boat Losses during World War II (1998). ISBN 1 85367 352 8

External links[edit]