War Emergency Programme destroyers

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The War Emergency Programme destroyers were 112 destroyers built for the British Royal Navy during World War II. They were based on the hull and machinery of the earlier J-, K- and N-class destroyers. Due to supply problems and the persistent failure by the Royal Navy to develop a suitable dual-purpose weapon for destroyers, they were fitted with whatever armament was available. Recent advances in radar and weaponry were incorporated as they came available. As a result, they were a relatively heterogeneous class incorporating many wartime advances, but ultimately based on a hull that was too small and with an armament too light to be true first-rate vessels equivalent of their contemporaries. As such they are often described as "utility" destroyers. It was not until the Battle-class destroyer of 1944 that the Royal Navy returned to building larger destroyers. Many vessels were transferred to friendly navies.

Ship Classes[edit]

  • O class — "1st Emergency Flotilla"
  • P class — "2nd Emergency Flotilla"
  • Q class — "3rd Emergency Flotilla"
  • R class — "4th Emergency Flotilla"
  • S class — "5th Emergency Flotilla"
  • T class — "6th Emergency Flotilla"
  • U class — "7th Emergency Flotilla"
  • V class — "8th Emergency Flotilla"
  • W class — "9th Emergency Flotilla"
  • Z class — "10th Emergency Flotilla"
  • Ca- class — "11th Emergency Flotilla"
  • Ch- class — "12th Emergency Flotilla"
  • Co- class — "13th Emergency Flotilla"
  • Cr- class — "14th Emergency Flotilla"

Design changes[edit]

  • The P, and 3 ships of the O, flotilla were fitted with 4-inch guns with a new design of tall gunshield. As a result, they carried only the Rangefinder-Director Mark II(W) for fire control.
  • From the Q and R class onwards a transom stern was incorporated.
  • From the S and T class onwards the bow was revised to a design based on that of the Tribal-class destroyer, to improve sea-keeping.
  • From the Q and R class the main gun calibre returned to 4.7 inches.
  • From the R flotilla onwards the officer's accommodation was forwards, instead of aft as was traditional Royal Navy practice
  • The S flotilla altered the position of the searchlight between the torpedo tubes with the medium anti-aircraft position abaft the funnel. This more logical arrangement gave the anti-aircraft gun improved arcs of fire in the forward field.
  • The S class introduced the new mounting CP Mark XXII for the 4.7-inch guns. This could readily be distinguished from the older mounting CP Mark XVIII of the O, Q and R by its sharply raked face, allowing increased elevation.
  • S-class Savage incorporated the new 4.5-inch gun Mark III, in a prototype twin dual-purpose turret BD Mark IV forward and 4.5-inch gun Mark IV in single mountings CP Mark V aft. The former would be introduced in the Battle-class destroyer.
  • The T flotilla introduced the lattice foremast, to support the ever-increasing weight of masthead electronics.
  • The W flotilla introduced the dual-purpose Director Mark III(W), replacing the low-angle Destroyer DCT and High-Angle Rangefinder-Director Mark II(W) in use since the Q and R class.
  • The Z flotilla introduced the new dual-purpose Director Mark I Type K and the 4.5-inch gun in single mountings CP Mark V as trialled in Savage. These mountings were based on the CP Mark XXII used in the later 4.7-inch gunned ships; there was no obvious difference.
  • The Ch- flotilla introduced the dual-purpose Director Mark VI with full remote-power control (RPC) for gunlaying. As a result, one set of torpedo tubes was removed to counter the increased topweight.
  • All ships used the Fuze Keeping Clock High Angle Fire Control Computer.[1]

See also[edit]

  • Type 15 frigate: postwar full conversion of Wartime Emergency Programme destroyers into first-rate fast anti-submarine frigates
  • Type 16 frigate: postwar partial conversion of Wartime Emergency Programme destroyers into second-rate fast anti-submarine frigates


  1. ^ Destroyer Weapons of WW2, Hodges/Friedman, ISBN 0-85177-137-8


  • Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981, Maurice Cocker, 1983, Ian Allan ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946, Ed. Robert Gardiner, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 0-87021-913-8
  • Raven, Alan; Roberts, John (1978). War Built Destroyers O to Z Classes. London: Bivouac Books. ISBN 0-85680-010-4. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.