HMS Undaunted (R53)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Undaunted.
HMS Undaunted 1944 IWM FL 008812.jpg
HMS Undaunted on the River Mersey, 28 February 1944
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Undaunted
Builder: Cammell Laird
Laid down: 8 September 1942
Launched: 19 July 1943
Commissioned: 3 March 1944
Decommissioned: 1974
Identification: pennant number R53
Fate: Sunk as target, 1978
General characteristics
Class and type: U-class destroyer

HMS Undaunted was a U-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service during World War II. She was later converted into a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate, with the new pennant number F53.

Service history[edit]

Second World War service[edit]

Undaunted had a long, distinguished and industrious career, which started soon after her launching and acceptance into the fleet in 1944. Built as a destroyer of 1,710 tons, most of her first ship's company joined her in February 1944, after travelling by overnight troop train from Devonport Barracks.

Operations against the Tirpitz[edit]

After a hasty work up at Scapa Flow, her first action was in the operation to try to sink the German battleship Tirpitz in the Norwegian Altenfjord. She operated in the North Cape area where she escorted the aircraft carriers Furious, Victorious, Emperor, Fencer, Searcher and Pursuer with other escorts, including the battleship Anson, cruisers Belfast, Jamaica, Sheffield, Royalist, destroyers Meteor, Milne, Onslaught, Ursa, Verulam, Vigilant, Virago and Wakeful. She was also joined by the Royal Canadian Navy ships Algonquin and Sioux. The aircraft from the carriers scored 14 hits.


She subsequently took part in the D-Day landings, as part of Task Force G, covering the Roger section of Sword Beach. It was while she was at Normandy that the recently appointed Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was embarked in her from the fast mine laying cruiser Apollo, which had grounded, damaging her propellers. General Eisenhower and Admiral Ramsay were given a fast passage back to Portsmouth by Undaunted and his flag was a Wardroom “Trophy” until 1969, when it was presented to the National Trust for Scotland during a ceremony in Edinburgh, during a visit to Leith.

The Eisenhower flag[edit]

The flag resides in the National Trust for Scotland property of Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland, in the Eisenhower exhibition along with some other items of his, including his presidential flag, shirt, jacket and tie. The flag is thin and crudely made, and has Eisenhower's signature on two of the four stars sewn on. The description board for the flag states:

Flag presented to the Officers and Men of HMS Undaunted by General Eisenhower. During the afternoon of 7 June 1944, HMS Undaunted embarked General Eisenhower, Admiral Ramsay and their staffs, whose ship had grounded. This flag was hoisted at the starboard yard arm. General Eisenhower signed his name across two of the stars, using an indelible pencil dipped in whiskey.

The Mediterranean and Far East[edit]

After D-Day, Undaunted saw service in the Mediterranean and did a great deal of escort work out of Malta. She then went on to Bari, Brindisi and Taranto (Italy), where crew members earned the Italy Medal for operations such as bombarding the Coast Road by Ancona, to help the Army and she was also engaged in operations off the coast of Yugoslavia.

She then travelled through the Suez Canal to Aden and Bombay, where she was engaged in escorting troopships. As part of the British Pacific Fleet she was assigned the pennant number D25, she acted as Guard ship off Yokohama Bay on VJ Day, whilst the peace treaty was being signed aboard the US battleship USS Missouri. Shortly after VJ Day, Undaunted sailed into Sydney, Australia, flying the flags of Japan, Germany and Italy. She also flew the flags of France, United States, China and Poland, as well as the personal flag of Dwight D. Eisenhower. One officer explained "We were feeling exuberant and flew the lot."

She then went on to Auckland, New Zealand, where she was in refit for six weeks, having steamed 150,000 miles since commissioning some 18 months beforehand. In January 1946, she sailed home via Sydney, Melbourne, Cape Town, St Helena, Freetown and Gibraltar, to Plymouth, where she arrived on 19 March 1946.

Post war[edit]

Between 1946 and 1953 she was held in reserve at Devonport.[1] Between 1953 and 1954, like many former wartime destroyers, she was converted into a Type 15 anti submarine frigate, at the Cowes shipyard of J. Samuel White. Following her conversion, she was assigned the new pennant number F53. On 23 July 1954 she re-commissioned for service with the 2nd Training Squadron at Portland. In 1955 she carried out trials of the latest long range Asdic equipment in the bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean carrying Engineers from the Portland Research Centre and acting alone rather than part of the 2nd TS.(ref< Lockyer, Sub Lieut RNVR on board at time)>. In 1958 she commissioned for service with the 6th Frigate Squadron. She also took part in Asdic trials, and other experimental work. She was fitted with a flight deck in 1959 and became the first small ship in the Navy trials to carry an anti-submarine helicopter - the naval version of the Wasp helicopter. The Wasp's main role was for anti-submarine warfare.

Between 1960 and 1961 she was part of the 20th Frigate squadron at Londonderry Port. From October 1961 and March 1962 she underwent a refit at Rosyth Dockyard. On the 16 February she re-commissioned as part of the 2nd Frigate Squadron at Portland.

She later became Captain "D" of the Portland Training Squadron, spending most of her time day-running out of Portland, training TAS ratings in anti-submarine warfare. Between 1964 and 1967 she had a long refit at Chatham.[1] In 1968 she took part in Navy Days at Portsmouth during that year.[2] In 1969 she underwent another five-month refit at Chatham dockyard.

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Undaunted was in commission until July 1974, when she was reduced to reserve. In 1978 she was used for further trials, she was sunk as a target for an Exocet missile, fired from the destroyer Norfolk, and a torpedo from the submarine Swiftsure. She now rests on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean.

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1944 1944 Lieutenant Commander Angus Alexander McKenzie RD, RNR
1944 1946 Lieutenant Commander Campbell Eric Reginald Sharp RN
1946 1951 In reserve
1954 1956 Lieutenant Commander Bloomer RN [3]
1960 1960 Captain D H Mason RN
1962 1963 Captain Raymond P. Dannreuther RN
1965 1966 Lieutenant Commander A J Wood RN
1967 1968 Captain A Desmond Cassidi RN
1968 1970 Captain Brian C G Hutchings RN
1970 1971 Captain John B Robathan RN
1971 1973 Captain R Michael Burgoyne RN


  1. ^ a b Critchley, Mike (1982). British Warships Since 1945: Part 3: Destroyers. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Books. p. 68. ISBN 0-9506323-9-2. 
  2. ^ Programme, Navy Days at Portsmouth August 31st-September 2nd 1968, p.21.
  3. ^ Programme of Re-Commissioning Service