HMS Ursa (R22)

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HMS Ursa 1944 IWM FL 20762.jpg
Ursa in 1944
History
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Ursa
Builder: John I. Thornycroft and Company
Laid down: 18 March 1942
Launched: 1 June 1943
Commissioned: 23 December 1943
Decommissioned: November 1966
Identification: pennant number R22/F200
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type: U-class destroyer
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Armament: 4.5 inch gun

HMS Ursa was a U-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service during the Second World War. She was later converted into a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate, with the new pennant number F200.

Service history[edit]

Second World War service[edit]

Ursa was first allocated to the 25th Destroyer Flotilla.[1] She served with the Home Fleet and took part in support of the Operations to invade Normandy in June 1944 and also operations along the French Atlantic coast which culminated in the final destruction of the German navy there during the Battle of Audierne Bay.

In October of that year she was refitted for service in the Far East and joined the British Pacific Fleet where she served until 1945. She then returned to the United Kingdom and paid off in 1946.

During the War Ursa was adopted by the Borough of Hendon as part of Warship Week. The plaque from this adoption is held by the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.[2]

Post-war service[edit]

After the Second World War Ursa went into reserve at Portsmouth, transferring to the Chatham reserve in 1952. During 1953 and 1954 Ursa was converted to a Type 15 anti-submarine frigate with the new pennant number F200.[3] On 29 June 1955 Ursa was re-commissioned at Chatham Dockyard under the Command of Commander Powers, RN. After acceptance trials, and work-up at Portland Naval Base, under Flag Officer Sea training (FOST), she then joined the 6th Frigate Squadron, and left in November 1955, for the Royal Naval Fleet on the Mediterranean Station.[4] She arrived at Sliema Creek Malta, in company with sister ships Undine (Captain F), Ulysses and Urania.

On Boxing Day 1955, the whole Squadron put to sea at short notice into heavy seas, whereupon Ulysses lost several crew members overboard from the forecastle area; the survivors being rescued by a Maltese tug.

Ursa undertook regular anti-gunrunning patrols off Cyprus. Patrolling the island, in company with other members of the squadron, the object of the patrols was trying to thwart the efforts of EOKA (terrorist groups who were fighting for independence from British rule). These patrols were generally of six weeks duration, and then a relief.

In June–July 1956 she underwent a minor refit of approximately five weeks in Gibraltar, later going into the King George IV dry dock, with the whole squadron (and two minesweepers) for maintenance.

In November 1956, with the rest of the squadron, Ursa formed part of the Royal Navy's force used during the Suez Operation. This was an Anglo-French-Israeli campaign to recapture the Suez Canal. Ursa was initially attached to the carrier force providing anti-submarine screening, and crash destroyer duties for the aircraft carriers Albion and Bulwark. Towards the end of the brief Suez campaign, she was transferred to providing anti-submarine screening and protection for the tanker force.

She decommissioned in April 1957 at Chatham Dockyard.

Towards the end of her service, she completed a refit in Malta in 1961 prior to the Royal Navy's relinquishment of the shipyard and during its transfer to Bailey's Dockyard Ltd, commissioning in November of that year under the command of Commander Sam Brooks, DSC RN, as a member of the 5th Frigate Squadron. She spent the first half of 1962 in the Mediterranean, returning to the UK in June 1962. In January 1963, while on exercises near Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, in support of the submarine service, she collided with the destroyer Battleaxe. Ursa suffered a damaged bow, while Battleaxe suffered more consequentially, being struck athwartships. As luck would have it the crew from the forward mess deck most heavily damaged on Ursa were on watch and there was only one minor injury.

After major damage control by the ship's crew, she made her way slowly to Greenock shipyard dry dock, where she was measured for a new bow and this was fitted in under four weeks. Ursa returned to Devonport dockyard, where the new bow (with a stylish rake of a few more degrees than that of her original one) was finished off with standard RN fixtures and fittings. Battleaxe was decommissioned and scrapped. In March 1963 Ursa relieved Troubridge in the 8th Frigate Squadron and served as West Indies guard ship from June 1963 until June 1964.

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Ursa continued in service until paying off at Devonport for the last time on 28 October 1966. She was subsequently sold for scrapping and arrived at Cashmore's in Newport in 1967.[3]

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1943 1945 Commander Derek Bathurst Wyburd DSC RN[5]
1946 1955 In reserve/under conversion
1961 1962 Commander Sam Brooks DSC RN
1962 1963
1963 1964 Commander "Bagsy" Baker RN
1965 1966 Commander A L L Skinner RN

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mason, Geoffrey B. (2004). Gordon Smith, ed. "HMS Ursa (R 22) - U-class Destroyer". naval-history.net. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Warship Weeks: Adopting Naval Vessels in World War Two | Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
  3. ^ a b Marriott, Leo (1994). Royal Navy Destroyers since 1945. Ian Allan. p. 38. 
  4. ^ Critchley, Mike (1982). British Warships Since 1945: Part 3: Destroyers. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Books. p. 68. ISBN 0-9506323-9-2. 
  5. ^ "HMS Ursa (R 22)". uboat.net. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 

Publications[edit]

External links[edit]