ORP Grom (1936)
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|Laid down:||17 July 1935|
|Launched:||20 July 1936|
|Commissioned:||11 May 1937|
|Decommissioned:||4 May 1940|
|Fate:||Sunk in the Rombaken fjord near Narvik, Norway|
|Class and type:||Grom-class destroyer|
|Length:||114 m (374 ft)|
|Beam:||11.3 m (37 ft 1 in)|
|Draft:||3.3 m (10 ft 10 in)|
|Propulsion:||Two Parsons' steam turbines of 54,000 shp (40,000 kW) altogether, 3 boilers and 2 shafts|
|Speed:||39 knots (72 km/h; 45 mph)|
|Range:||3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
ORP Grom was the lead ship of her class of destroyers serving in the Polish Navy during World War II. She was named after the Polish word for Thunderbolt, while her sister ship ORP Błyskawica translates to lightning.
Grom was thought of as a large destroyer, similar to flotilla leaders. She and sister ship ORP Błyskawica were to support the outdated French-built Wicher and Burza in the role of the core of the Polish Navy in a possible conflict. As Poland had only one major seaport, the main task of the Polish naval forces was to secure supplies shipment to and from allied countries. Because of that, the Grom class was designed to fulfill both the role of shore defence and convoy escort and was supposed to be stronger than single enemy destroyers.
Two Parsons steam turbines of 54,000 shaft horsepower (40,000 kW) altogether, three boilers and two shafts allowed Grom to travel at 39 knots (72 km/h; 45 mph), faster than the contemporary designs like the US Farragut and Porter classes, the British Tribal class, or the German Type 1934s. Also, as it was not clear whether the ships would be used to secure convoys to the Polish port of Gdynia or the Romanian port of Constanţa (through the Romanian Bridgehead), the possible range was much larger than in the case of destroyers designed exclusively for the Baltic Sea. The ship had an effective range of 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).
Construction and career
On 30 August 1939, the Polish destroyers Burza, Błyskawica and Grom were ordered to activate the Peking Plan, and the warships headed for Great Britain, from where they were to operate as convoy escorts. On 1 September 1939, Polish destroyers met the British destroyers Wanderer and Wallace. The British ships led the Polish flotilla to Leith, and in the night the Polish destroyers came to Rosyth. However, no convoys were ever organized to help Poland during the Polish Defensive War and the Polish ships were used in support of Allied maritime operations.
During her operations in the Norwegian Campaign, Grom was ranked by the German soldiers as probably the most hated of all the Allied ships deployed to the area. This hatred was founded on the fact that Grom took an intense interest in all hostile movements on shore and was reputed to spend hours lurking the coast in order harass German forces. It is worth noting that this aggressive posture caused Grom to inflict heavy damage and casualties on the civilian population in the area. On 4 May 1940, Grom carried out what turned out to be the last of her many naval gunfire support missions in the Narvik area in the Rombaken fjord. She was attacked by a Heinkel He 111 bomber from Kampfgeschwader 100 (piloted by Lt. Korthals). Her loaded midship torpedo launcher was struck by a bomb from a German plane and the torpedo exploded, causing the hull to break into two and the ship to sink almost immediately with a loss of life of 59 sailors.
The wreck was never raised and it was not until 6 October 1986 that it was explored by divers for the first time.
- Hermann Laugs, Kampf um die Erzbahn als Seeoffizier vor Narvik, Hase & Koehler, Leipzig 1941
- Jürgen Rohwer (2005), Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War II,Naval Institute Press, ISBN 9781591141198