Polish Wicher-class destroyer, ORP Burza (1955) - veteran-ship with many faces

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Short story & fev facts:
ORP Burza (name mean ‘storm’), the second and last destroyer of Wicher-class, was ordered 02.04.1926 in french dockyard Chantiers Naval Français, located in Blainville. She was a sisitership of ORP Wicher (which was sank when defend polish seashore in September 1939). Keel laid down in 01.11.1927, launched in April 1929. Ship was was commisioned into the Polish Navy 10.08.1932, 2 years later after ORP Wicher. Project of polish destroyers came from french Bourrasque-class and was very similar to them, but was a differences. Both ships in September 1932 was organised in new military unit created in Polish pre-war Navy – Dywizjon Kontrtorpedowców (destroyer’s division). In early ’30-s it was strongest pair of destroyers in Baltic Sea.


Differences between Bourrasque-class and Wicher-class destroyers:

  1. Wicher-class had greater displacement than french protoplast ca. 130 tonnes, because:
    A. Wicher-class had strengthened bow to crusch baltic ice floes
    B. Wicher-class had minelaying rails installation (ships was more universal than french Bourrasque-class)
  2. Wicher-class had 2 single Vickers wz. 28 40mm AA gun (which was polish name of british 2-pdr QF Mark II) instead french Canon de 37 mm Modèle 1925
  3. Wicher-class had reductors in torpedo tubes, and can use french 550 mm and british 533 mm torpedoes.

Just before beginning WW II, on August 31, 1939, she was sent to England (together with newest polish destroyers: ORP Błyskawica and Grom) as Polish Navy operation codenamed ‘Pekin’ (mean in polish ‘Beijing’). This solution was dictated by the high probability of unproductive destruction of these ships, if in the situation of the expected war with Germany they would remain in the Baltic Sea. British Navy given her pennant number H 73.
Under commandment of Royal Navy ORP Burza took part in the Norwegian campaign – mostly she escorted bigger warships and convoys, sometimes fought planes and u-boats. When ORP Grom sunk by german’s bombs, she transported saved Grom’s crewmembers to hospital ship. Burza took part in the end of French campaign - she has shooted to German’s land troops from main guns near Calais 24.05.1940. In this action ship was heavy damaged by German’s dive bombers Ju-87. After repair she was mostly have escort duty on GB littoral seas, because ship had too low stability to hydrometeorological conditions of open Atlantic ocean.
Finally in 02.02.1942 Burza went to shipyard for refit and rearming. After 9 months, “classic” destroyer was refited as an destroyer escort, much more adapted for Atlantic’s waves. Heavy escort service she began 11 November 1942. Many times Burza was damaged by heavy storms. Overall exploitation, age and untypical construction for the British shipyards (Burza was made in metric unit system) made commandment’s decision to destination 02.04.1944 of polish destroyer as a school ship in reserve service. She stay moored in West Hartlepool to the end of war. 02.02.1946 Burza has been tugged and moored in Harvich, where 26.09.1946 was retreated polish flag , and raised Union Jack - she stayed formally handed over Great Britian by polish-in-exile government.
In spring next year new polish government, was started negotiations about brought back to Poland polish pre-war ships located in Great Britain. Negotiations was difficult and long, but successful. In July 1951 Burza returned with help tug to Poland, after inspection new Polish Navy Commandment decided to totally rebuilt and rearm ship. This refit started 12.09.1951, ended 15.03.1955 and totally changed her stillhouette, equipment, electronics, armament and role. All new equipment, electronics and armament was made in Soviet Union. After that, ORP Burza was designated to flak-ship role and reclassificated properly too. She received new pennant number too – N-52. 03.04.1955 polish flag raised again. New, calm service was filled of exercises and sometimes courtesy visits, but was quite short. 02.12.1959 authorities decided to withdrawn ship from active duty and adapt Burza to the new role – as a museum ship. Reason of decision was simply – machinery and boilers had not spare parts, ship was old and exploated in war times. ORP Burza ended role of museum in 28.06.1976 – this day flag was retreated. Decision to discontinue the museum role and scrap it was made due to improper maintenance of the ship and corrosion of the hull, and the renovation looked to be too expensive to be profitable. ORP Błyskawica stayed new museum ship in Burza place, serving this honorable function in Gdynia for nowadays (it is the oldest surviving destroyer). Burza shortly was a training centre of firefighting and scrapped in 1977. Some parts of equipment were preserved, e.g. main mast, main gun and …toilet ! ;)

Few (lesser known) facts:

  1. Names ‘Wicher’ and ‘Burza’ was a reference to the names of french protoplasts
  2. Burza’s bow have rebuilded twice – 1-st time after germans’s bombing 24.05.1940, 2-nd time after she rammed 16.11.1940 minesweeper HMS Arsenal.
  3. Burza was taken into mind (due to she was made in metric system, old age and exploitation) as ramm-ship in Operation Chariot - amphibious attack on the heavily defended Normandie dry dock at St Nazaire in German-occupied France. After polish navy commandment protests (it was one-way-ticket mission), was used HMS Campbeltown (old flusch-deck, recieved by lend-lease act, USA-made destroyer).
  4. Burza with USCGC Campbell sunk U-606.
  5. Return to the country took 4 years also due to the lack of a sufficiently strong tug in the post-war Polish Navy.
  6. Polish flag was raised again after almost 10 years.
  7. New, post-war pennant number N-52 was not fully painted on the ship’s sides, only “52” was.
  8. In post-war refit in Poland, was used some parts acquired by navy divers from ORP Wicher wreck.
  9. Post-war repair was so long because delay of supply of Soviet weapons and systems.
  10. Burza was perceived by the sailors serving on she as an unlucky ship, but yet it she survived the war and in wartime only 2 seamen died in her deck (one of them was ill for depression and commit suicide).
  11. Destroyer was nicknamed “Ciotka Burza” (mean “Aunt Burza”).

Photos & plan:



IMO would be a nice, interesting addition to French naval tech-tree as premium.

Technical data (1955) :
Displacement standard: N/A
Displacement full: 2 240 t
Length: 106,9 m (o/a)
Breadth: 10,5 m
Draught: 4,0 m
Machinery and power: 2 sets Parsons geared steam turbines, 3 boilers du Temple, 2 shafts, 35,000 shp
Max speed: 30 knots
Range: 3600 nmi at 13 knots
Crew: 223 men
Armament (1955 – as flak-ship):
4 x single 100 mm type B-34U guns, 4 x double 37mm AA guns type W-11M, 1 × depth charge launcher, 4 × type BMB-1 depth charge throwers, 60 mines.
Electronics: radars: Gijus 1M4, Neptun, Lin, sonar type: Tamir 5-N, IFF type: Kriemnij-2


  1. Jerzy Łubkowski: Kontrtorpedowce „Wicher” i „Burza”, cz. 1. T. 28 Encyklopedia Okrętów Wojennych, AJ-Press (publishing house), Gdańsk 2004.
  2. Witold Koszela, Niszczyciele Polskiej Marynarki Wojennej, Almapress (publishing house) 2013, Warszawa (Warsaw).
  3. Stanisław Piaskowski: Okręty Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej 1920-1946. Album planów. Wydawnictwo Lampart (publishing house), Gdańsk 1996.
  4. Mariusz Borowiak: Niszczyciel ORP Burza. Wydawnictwo Napoleon V (publishing house), 2017.
  5. Robert Rochowicz. Powojenne losy ORP „Burza”. „Morze, statki i okręty”. Nr 3/1997, s. 31–32, 1997. Warszawa: Magnum X sp. z o.o… (article in polish maritime magazine).
  6. Robert Rochowicz. Weteran w nowej szacie. ORP „Burza” w Marynarce Wojennej PRL. „Morze, statki i okręty”. Nr specjalny 1/2015, s. 33–41, 2015. Warszawa: Magnum X sp. z o.o… (article in polish maritime magazine).