Grimsby-class sloop, HMS Lowestoft (U59) (1943)

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Grimsby-class sloop, HMS Lowestoft (U59) (1943)


Design History:

After the first world war, the Royal Navy constructed several classes to replace the Flower and Hunt class, but it soon became clear that these designs such as teh Hasting’s-class would prove insufficent in both the convoy/escort role and in minesweeping, prompting the admiralty to order vessels specific to each role. Because of this development began on the Halcyon-class minesweeper, with a new class of sloops to be developed concurrently in order to serve in the escort role. This new class of ship would be christened the Grimsby-class, and was equipt with a heavier gun armament than their predecessors. The ships as built possessing a pair of two 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark IX guns mounted fore and aft, replacing the smaller 4 inch guns of earlier classes. These guns lacked high gun angles though, so a single QF 3-inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft gun was mounted in “B” position in order to protect the vessels from air attack. This was joined by a set of four 3-pounder saluting guns, giving the ship a rather impressive armament for her size.

The ships were powered by a paair of geared steam turbines driving two shafts, fed by a duo of admiralty 3 drum boilers. This set up produced 2,000 shaft horsepower, allowing the class to be propelled at a speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph). Eight ships would ultimately be built for the royal navy, being laid down between 1933-35, with the last being completed in 1936. The Royal Australian Navy would also adopt this class, with 4 ultimately being constructed for service, and an additional one completed for the Indian navy, though their armaments differed from the royal navy vessels.

The dimensions for HMS Lowestoft length was 266 feet 3 inches (81.15 m) overall, with a beam of 36 feet (10.97 m) and a draught of 9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m) at deep load. Displacement was 990 long tons (1,010 t) at standard load and 1,355 long tons (1,377 t) at full load. With the ship having a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). Like the rest of her class she was initially equipt with two 4.7 in (120 mm) Mark IX guns were mounted fore and aft on the ship’s centreline, along with a single QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft gun[a] was mounted in “B” position, this was suplimented with four 3-pounder saluting guns and eight machine guns. Her initial anti-submarine armament was minute, with only four depth charges carried, though she could be fitted out for minelaying or sweeping at the lost of her rear 4.7 inch gun allowing 40 mines to be carried. Lowestoft had a crew of 103 officers and men, and was laid down on the 21st of august 1933 and would be launched and commissioned in 1934, beging fully completed and commisioned on the 22nd of november of that year.

During service HMS Lowestoft would undergo several changes from this initial design, with the most major being a refit in 1939, where the 4.7-inch and 3-inch guns were replaced with 2 twin QF 4 inch (102 mm) Mk XVI anti-aircraft guns. An additional quadruple vickers .5 inch machine gun mount was added later suplimented with a second, along with two 20mm oerlikon cannons in 1941, along with a single 2-pounder pom-pom. The machine guns would later be removed and replaced with an additional four oerlikons in 1942. Anti-submarine capacity also increased during the war years ending with 60 depth charges carried and a Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar was fitted in by the end of the war.

Service history:

Following commissioning, HMS Lowestoft was assigned to the China station, reaching Hong Kong on the 15th of febuary 1935. During the transit she suffered boiler problems, and had to undergo repair that lasted until may of 1935. While asigned to this region she underwent multiple port visits and patrols along the coast of china, and she protected western interests in the region during the second sino-japanese war. She would undergo refit at singapore in novemeber of 1938, after which she returned to her regular patrols. In june of 1939 she would take part in the the japanese blockage of the british concession in Tianjin, when four chinese wanted by the japanese occupation forces took refuge in the concession. Lowestoft stood by to evacuate british resisents in the event that the situation further deteriorated, but this did not occur, leaving the ship free to return for refit at hong kong in july of1 939, where she was rearmed with 4-inch guns to improve her anti air capability.

upon completion of this refit in december of 1939, Lowestoft sailed for gibraltar, and from there the united kingdom, where she was assigned to Rosyth in order to escort convoys between the firth of forth and moray firth, where shipping was particularly vulnerable to long range german aircraft. She would also take part in long range atlantic convoys such as SC.2 in september of 1940, where she was subject to multiple u-boat attacks that sank 5 of the 53 merchant ships assigned to teh convoy. She also took part in HX 72, a convoy escorted by armed merchant cruiser Jervis bay. This role would continue into the war, as on the 18th of november Lowestoft shot down a german aircraft attacking convoy FN336 not far from her namesake town. This spate of assignements would come to an end on the 5th of january though, when Lowestoft was badly damabed when she struck a mine in the thames estuary while escorting a convoy, leaving her under repair until october of the same year. This break from duties allowed her to fitted with two oerlikon 20mm cannons along with a radar system. After this refit she was assigned to multiple escort assignements mainly escorting convoys to and from freetown sierra leone.

Another accident would put an end to this buissness though, when on the 12th of july 1942 she collided with the french destroyer leopard, resulting in her requiring repair work at gibraltar dockyard, which was delayed due to manpower and material shortages brought on by the preperation for operation torch, so she was transferred to falmouth for completion of work, which took until april of 1943. once this was done she returned to escorting convoys along the west african coast, until in august of 1943 she was assigned to part of operation alacrity, in which the british were allowed to set up an air base in the Azores through an agreement with portugal. HMS Lowestoft forming but a small contingent of the massive escort fleet that would guard the convoy for this task, which composed of Escort carrier, nine destroyers and three corvettes. She would be based her for a time until in june of 1944 she returned to the united kingdom for refit, which lasted until october of 1944, before returning to her regular post at freetown. From here Lowestoft continued escorting convoys until the end of the war in europe, finally returning to the uk in june of 1945 where she was placed into reserve at milford haven in july. She would then be deemed surplus to requirements, and on the 4th of october 1946 be sold, becoming a merchant ship called Miraflores, for a span of around 10 years before ultimately being scrapped in belgium on the 5th of august 1955.

Vessel Specification:

Displacement: 990 long tons (1,010 t) standard

Length:266 ft 3 in (81.15 m) o/a

Beam: 36 ft (11.0 m)

Draught: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m) (full load)

Propulsion: Two Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers connected to Parsons geared steam turbines, powering two shafts at 2,000 shp (1,500 kW)

Speed: 16.5 kn (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)

Range: 6,000 nmi (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)

Complement: 103

Armament: 2 × twin QF 4 inch (102 mm) Mk XVI anti-aircraft guns

1 x 2-pounder (40-mm) “pom-pom”

6 x Oerlikon 20 mm cannons

60 x depth charges

1 x Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar

Additional historical pictures:

Image showing HMS Lowestoft in 1943, moored infront of a pair of rivers-class corvettes:

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