HNoMS St. ALBANS Destroyer

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HNoMS St. ALBANS Destroyer Town flush IV class

BUILDING SITE: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA, USA
LAUNCHED: 4 July 1918

3x 102mm cannons
4x 7.6mm machineguns
6x 53.3cm Torpedotubes
40x Depth charges/sinking mines

Displacement: 1.213 Ton
Hull: Steel
Length: 105.1m
Width: 10.3m
Depth: 3.0m
Crew: 122 men

Eigne: 2x Curtiss SR geared turbines
Power: 26.000 AHK
Speed: 35 knots

1940: Transferred to Royal navy in September renamed HMS St. Albans
1941: Transferred to KNM 14 April with new name St. Albans
1941: Liverpool Escort Force
1941: Participated in the sinking of the German submarine U401 in the North Atlantic on 3 August
1943: Western Local Escort Force, Halifax
1944: Norwegian command canceled 4 February
1944: Transferred to Royal Navy renamed HMS St. Albans
1944: Transferred to the Royal Navy and on to the Soviet Russian Navy and renamed USSR Dostoiny
1949: Returned to the Royal Navy in February and scrapped at Charlestown

During World War I, the Americans realized that they were “out of step” compared to other seafaring nations. The torpedo’s violent development meant that even small torpedo vessels could threaten both merchant ships and larger warships. already early during the First World War, the Americans believed that they needed a type of vessel that could fulfill the role of destroyer and escort vessel. They had to be relatively well equipped and, to be able to follow the larger warships, they also had to have good speed. the stated goal was for the US Navy to be “second to none”. the answer was the development of the so-called “fluch-deck” destroyers of which no fewer than 274 were built. With a displacement of well over 1,000 tonnes and a speed of 33.35 knots, these were larger destroyers than had been available before. for reinforcement they had no less than two 5-inch, four 4-inch and one 3-inch cannon, as well as four torpedo guns with 21 inch torpedoes in each gun. the term “flush-decker” refers to the low freeboard on the ship, which in turn caused unpleasant bye seas above deck. (access to the front cannon therefore had to go via the lower decks). They were also called “four.stackers” because most of the ships had four chimneys, one for each of the boilers. after a trial series of six vessels (the Caldwell class), they further developed the concept into the Wickers class, of which they built a total of 111 from 1917 - 1919. Throughout the war, the threat from submarines gradually increased and the Wickers class was developed into the Clemson class, of which 156 were built, most after the peace in 1918.

after the war there was naturally a large surplus of these destroyers. some were rebuilt for other purposes, some were chopped up and many were put into storage

in the summer of 1940, the British had lost a good number of their destroyers, including during the fighting in Norway. they then began to probe the possibility of an agreement on the takeover of some of the American destroyers, without agreeing on the conditions for this. after Dunkirk the situation became even more critical. the Americans then agreed to lend the British military bases in several British-controlled areas. it was a time of strong isolationist forces in the USA. but the relevant areas, including Newfoundland and areas in the West Indies and the Caribbean, were considered important in the American self-defense concept and thus the lend-lease scheme was realized. of the 50 vessels agreed on on 2 September 1940, 27 were of the Wickers class, 20 of the Clemson class and three of the first Caldwell class. The Americans then still had a little over 70 of these destroyers. because of the American attitude, there was also some discussion about whether the British should be allowed to give their own names. the name issue ended with a compromise whereby they were to get new names after cities with the same name in the USA and Great Britain. Thus the class hub naturally became the Town class.

As soon as possible after the transfer, the British rebuilt most of them. variations occur but normally the heaviest guns were taken ashore and six standard 3 inch guns (caliber 50) were obtained. half of the torpedoes were also taken ashore and they received four to six 20mm anti-aircraft guns, six sinking mine-throwers and two sinking mine ranges. aft chimney and boiler were normally removed. to reduce the weight above deck, the mainmast was taken down and the height of the remaining chimneys reduced. the vessels were now equipped with radar and sonar, and even though they were old, they were relatively well equipped for the role of escort vessel.

The British naturally had some problems when suddenly had to man 50 new vessels with a crew of around 125 men. some were operated by the Canadian navy by agreement, and it is also not surprising that Norway, on the basis of the concluded military agreement, came to operate five of the vessels

St.Albans raised the Norwegian command only a week after Bath. In contrast to many of its sister ships, St.Albans had been used as the name of no less than four British sailing warships from 1687 to 1794. However, the start of Norwegian service was less honorable as it collided with and sank a British minesweeper already during training ( HMS Alberic) After repairs it entered the 7th Escort Group in Liverpool. There it was involved in escorting 13 convoys. Under its commander Skule Storheil, it helped sink the German submarine U-401 on 3 August, for which Storheil later received an award. From April to June 1942 it was assigned to escort the Murmansk convoys. Like other vessels in such service, they experienced constant threats from aircraft and submarines combined with cold and high seas. Together with the destroyer HMS Seagull, in May 1942 they experienced the nightmare of sinking an Allied submarine. It was the Polish submarine Jastrzab, which was quite far away from its assigned field of operations. After a number of special assignments, St.Albans was transferred from April 1943 to the Western Local Escort Force, based in Halifax. In February 1944, Norwegian command was halted, and the well-used warship was returned to the British. After some rest, St. Albans continued its exciting war history in the Soviet navy, where it was named Dostoini, and it is said to have taken part in the liberation of Finnmark.



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