Castle-class corvette

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HMS Denbigh Castle
Class overview
NameCastle class
Operators
Preceded byFlower-class corvette
Succeeded byNone
Planned95
Completed44
Cancelled51
Lost3
Retired41
General characteristics
TypeCorvette
Displacement1,060 long tons (1,077 t)
Length252 ft (77 m)
Beam37 ft (11 m)
Draught10 ft (3.0 m)
Installed power2,750 hp (2.05 MW)
Propulsion
  • 2 × water-tube boilers
  • 1 × 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine
  • Single screw
Speed16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Range9,500 nmi (17,600 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement112
Sensors and
processing systems
  • Type 272 radar
  • Type 144Q sonar
  • Type 147B sonar
Armament

The Castle-class corvettes were an updated version of the much more numerous Flower-class corvettes of the Royal Navy, and started appearing during late 1943. They were equipped with radar as well as ASDIC.

Design[edit]

The Admiralty had decided to cease Flower-class construction in favour of the larger River-class frigates as the Flower class had originally been intended for coastal escort work and were not entirely satisfactory for Atlantic convoy service. In particular, they were slow, poorly armed and rolled badly in rough seas, which quickly exhausted their crews. However, many shipyards were not large enough to build frigates. The Castle class was designed to be built on small slipways for about half the overall effort of a Loch-class frigate. The Loch-class frigate was similar to a River but built using the system of prefabrication.[2]

The appearance of Castle-class corvettes was much like the later "long forecastle" variant of the Flowers and they were a little larger (around 1,200 tons – about 200 tons more than the Flowers, and 40 feet (12 m) longer).

The most obvious visual difference was the lattice mainmast instead of the pole version fitted to the Flowers. There was also a more square cut look to the stern, although it was still essentially a cruiser spoon type, this difference was only visible from abaft the beam.

The armament differed from the Flower class with the depth charge fitment replaced by one Squid anti-submarine mortar. Hadleigh Castle received the first production Squid mounting; the World War I-era medium-velocity surface-only BL 4-inch Mk IX main gun firing a 31-pound (14 kg) shell was replaced by the new low-velocity QF 4-inch Mk XIX gun on high-angle/low-angle mounting firing a heavier 35-pound (16 kg) shell, which added anti-aircraft capability to the existing capability against surface targets such as submarines.

The propulsion machinery was identical to the Flowers and experienced officers felt that they were seriously under powered, having a tendency to turn into the wind despite everything the helmsman could do. The fact that Squid attacks required a fairly low speed (compared to depth charge attacks) only made matters worse.

Most of the Castle-class corvettes had been discarded by the end of the 1950s but a few survived a little longer as weather ships. The last Castle was the Uruguayan training ship Montevideo, originally HMS Rising Castle, which was scrapped in 1975.

Most were operated by the Royal Navy but twelve were transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) before completion and one to the Royal Norwegian Navy. Three Castles were sunk through enemy action and Castles participated in the sinking of seven U-boats.

Ships[edit]

Royal Canadian Navy[edit]

The following vessels were all originally built for the Royal Navy, but were transferred to the RCN on completion (for details of builders and construction dates see under Royal Navy below). All their pennant numbers (except Hedingham Castle, which was never completed), as well as their names, were changed when transferred.

Royal Navy[edit]

The initial Castle-class ship was Allington Castle, re-ordered on 9 December 1942 (from the previous order placed for a Modified Flower-class corvette named Amaryllis); another 13 vessels were ordered on 19 December, also under the 1942 War Programme. The remaining eighty-one ships were all ordered for the RN under the 1943 War Programme, of which thirty were completed. Fifty-one of these ships (15 from UK shipyards and 36 from Canadian shipyards) which were cancelled late in 1943 are shown separately below.

Construction data for Castle-cass corvettes of the Royal Navy
Name Pennant Hull builder Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Paid off Fate
Allington Castle K689 Fleming & Ferguson 9 Dec 1942 22 Jul 1943 29 Feb 1944 19 Jun 1944 1947 Scr 1958
Bamborough Castle K412 John Lewis & Co. Ltd 9 Dec 1942 1 Jul 1943 11 Jan 1944 30 May 1944 1950 Scrapped 22 May 1959
Caistor Castle K690 John Lewis & Co. Ltd 9 Dec 1942 26 Aug 1943 22 May 1944 29 Sep 1944 1947 Scrapped Mar 1956
Denbigh Castle K696 John Lewis & Co. Ltd 9 Dec 1942 30 Sep 1943 5 Aug 1944 30 Dec 1944 Declared constructive total loss, 13 Feb 1945
Farnham Castle K413 John Crown & Sons Ltd 9 Dec 1942 25 Jun 1943 25 Apr 1944 31 Jan 1945 1947 Scrapped, 31 Oct 1960
Hedingham Castle K529 John Crown & Sons Ltd 9 Dec 1942 2 Nov 1943 30 Oct 1944 12 May 1945 Aug 1945 Scrapped, Apr 1958
Hadleigh Castle K355 Smiths Dock Company 9 Dec 1942 4 Apr 1943 21 Jun 1943 18 Sep 1943 Aug 1946 Scrapped, Jan 1959
Kenilworth Castle K420 Smiths Dock Company 9 Dec 1942 7 May 1943 17 Aug 1943 22 Nov 1943 1948 Scrapped, 20 Jun 1959
Lancaster Castle K691 Fleming & Ferguson 9 Dec 1942 10 Sep 1943 14 Apr 1944 15 Sep 1944 1947 Scrapped, 20 Jun 1959
Maiden Castle K443 Fleming & Ferguson 9 Dec 1942 1943 8 Jun 1944 Nov 1944 Became convoy rescue ship Empire Lifeguard before completion; Scrapped, 22 Jul 1955
Norham Castle (ex-Totnes Castle) K447 A. & J. Inglis 9 Dec 1942 30 Sep 1943 12 Apr 1944 6 Sep 1944 Transferred to Canada as HMCS Humberstone 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1947
Oakham Castle K530 A. & J. Inglis 9 Dec 1942 30 Sep 1943 20 Jul 1944 10 Dec 1944 1950 Became the weather ship Weather Reporter 1957
Pembroke Castle K450 Ferguson Shipbuilders 9 Dec 1942 3 Jun 1943 12 Feb 1944 29 Jun 1944 Transferred to Canada as HMCS Tillsonburg in 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1947; Sold to Republic of China as Kao An 1952
Rayleigh Castle K695 Ferguson Shipbuilders 9 Dec 1942 1943 12 Jun 1944 Oct 1944 Completed as convoy rescue ship Empire Rest
Alnwick Castle K405 George Brown, Greenock 19 Jan 1943 1943 3 Oct 1944 1957 Broken up Dec 1958
Barnard Castle K594 George Brown, Greenock 1943 3 Oct 1944 completed 1945 as convoy rescue ship Empire Shelter
Flint Castle K383 Henry Robb, at Leith 20 Apr 1943 1 Sep 1943 31 Dec 1943 Mar 1956 Broken up 10 Jul 1958
Guildford Castle K378 Henry Robb, at Leith 25 May 1943 13 Nov 1943 11 Mar 1944 to Canada as HMCS Hespeler, 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1946 (later SS Chilcotin)
Hedingham Castle K491 Henry Robb, at Leith 23 Jul 1943 26 Jan 1944 10 May 1944 to Canada as HMCS Orangeville, 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1947; to Republic of China Navy 1951 as Te An
Knaresborough Castle K389 Blyth Dry Dock 22 Apr 1943 1 Sep 1943 5 Apr 1944 1947 Broken up 16 Mar 1956
Launceston Castle K397 Blyth Dry Dock 27 May 1943 27 Nov 1943 20 Jun 1944 1947 Broken up 3 Aug 1959
Sandgate Castle K473 Smiths Dock, at Middlesbrough 23 Jun 1943 28 Dec 1943 18 May 1944 22 Nov 1945 to Canada as HMCS St. Thomas, 1944; sold for mercantile service 1946 (later SS Camosun III)
Tamworth Castle K393 Smiths Dock, at Middlesbrough 25 Aug 1943 26 Jan 1944 3 Jul 1944 17 Feb 1946 to Canada as HMCS Kincardine; sold for mercantile service 1946
Walmer Castle K405 Smiths Dock, at Middlesbrough 23 Sep 1943 10 Mar 1944 5 Sep 1944 16 Nov 1945 to Canada as HMCS Leaside; sold for mercantile service 1946 (later SS Coquitlam II)
York Castle Ferguson Brothers, Port Glasgow 1944 20 Sep 1944 completed Feb 1945 as convoy rescue ship SS Empire Comfort
Hever Castle Blyth Dry Dock 29 Jun 1943 24 Feb 1944 15 Aug 1944 to Canada as HMCS Copper Cliff, 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1947, then became Chinese (People's Liberation Army) 1949
Leeds Castle K384 William Pickersgill & Sons 23 Jan 1943 22 Apr 1943 12 Oct 1943 15 Feb 1944 Nov 1956 broken up 5 Jun 1958
Morpeth Castle K693 William Pickersgill & Sons 23 Jan 1943 23 Jun 1943 26 Nov 1943 13 Jul 1944 1946 broken up 9 Aug 1960
Nunney Castle K446 William Pickersgill & Sons 23 Jan 1943 12 Aug 1943 26 Jan 1944 8 Oct 1944 to Canada as HMCS Bowmanville, 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1946, then became Chinese (People's Liberation Army) Kuang Chou 1949
Oxford Castle K692 Harland and Wolff 23 Jan 1943 21 Jun 1943 11 Dec 1943 10 Mar 1944 1946 broken up 6 Sep 1960
Pevensey Castle K449 Harland and Wolff 23 Jan 1943 21 Jun 1943 11 Jan 1944 10 Jun 1944 Feb 1946 Became weather ship Weather Monitor in 1959
Rising Castle K398 Harland and Wolff 23 Jan 1943 21 Jun 1943 8 Feb 1944 26 Jun 1944 14 Mar 1946 to Canada as HMCS Arnprior, 1944; transferred to Uruguay as Montevideo
Scarborough Castle K536 Fleming & Ferguson 23 Jan 1943 1944 8 Sep 1944 Jan 1945 Completed as convoy rescue ship (Empire Peacemaker)
Sherborne Castle K453 Harland and Wolff 23 Jan 1943 21 Jun 1943 24 Feb 1944 14 Jul 1944 8 Mar 1946 to Canada as HMCS Petrolia, 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1946
Tintagel Castle K399 Ailsa Shipbuilding Company 23 Jan 1943 29 Apr 1943 13 Dec 1943 7 Apr 1944 Aug 1956 Broken up Jun 1958
Wolvesey Castle K461 Ailsa Shipbuilding Company 23 Jan 1943 1 Jun 1943 24 Feb 1944 15 Jun 1944 15 Feb 1946 to Canada as HMCS Huntsville, 1944; Sold for mercantile service 1947
Amberley Castle K386 S P Austin & Son Ltd 2 Feb 1943 31 May 1943 25 Nov 1943 24 Nov 1944 1947 Became the weather ship Weather Adviser in 1960
Berkeley Castle K387 Barclay Curle 2 Feb 1943 23 Apr 1943 19 Aug 1943 18 Nov 1944 1946 Scrapped 24 Feb 1956
Carisbrooke Castle K379 Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company 2 Feb 1943 12 Mar 1943 31 Jul 1943 17 Nov 1943 1947 Scrapped 14 Jun 1958
Dumbarton Castle K388 Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company 2 Feb 1943 6 May 1943 28 Sep 1943 25 Feb 1944 1947 Scrapped Mar 1961
Hurst Castle K416 Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company 2 Feb 1943 6 Aug 1943 23 Feb 1944 9 Jun 1944 Sunk by U-482 on 1 Sep 1944
Portchester Castle K362 Swan Hunter 6 Feb 1943 17 Mar 1943 21 Jun 1943 8 Nov 1943 1947 Scrapped 14 May 1958
Rushen Castle K372 Swan Hunter 6 Feb 1943 8 Apr 1943 16 Jul 1943 24 Feb 1944 1946 Became the weather ship Weather Surveyor in 1960
Shrewsbury Castle K374 Swan Hunter 6 Feb 1943 5 May 1943 16 Aug 1943 24 Apr 1944 Transferred to Norway on completion and renamed HNoMS Tunsberg Castle; Sunk by mine 12 Dec 1944

Two ordered 3 March 1943, three ordered 4 May 1943 and two ordered 10 July 1943 were all cancelled, as were all thirty-six ordered from Canadian shipyards on 15 March 1943.

Royal Norwegian Navy[edit]

Cancelled[edit]

15 ships ordered for the Royal Navy from UK shipyards as part of the 1943 Programme were all cancelled on 31 October 1943:

  • Caldecot Castle – ordered 19 January 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Dover Castle – ordered 19 January 1943 from A. & J. Inglis, Glasgow.
  • Dudley Castle – ordered 19 January 1943 from A. & J. Inglis, Glasgow.
  • Bere Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Calshot Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Monmouth Castle (originally to have been Peel Castle) – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Lewis & Sons, Aberdeen.
  • Rhuddlan Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from John Crown & Sons, Sunderland.
  • Thornbury Castle – ordered 23 January 1943 from Ferguson Brothers, Port Glasgow.
  • Appleby Castle – ordered 3 March 1943 from Austin, at Sunderland.
  • Tonbridge Castle – ordered 3 March 1943 from Austin, at Sunderland.
  • Norwich Castle – ordered 4 May 1943 from John Brown & Company, Clydebank.
  • Oswestry Castle – ordered 4 May 1943 from John Crown & Sons, Sunderland.
  • Pendennis Castle – ordered 4 May 1943 from John Crown & Sons, Sunderland.
  • Alton Castle – ordered 10 July 1943 from Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley.
  • Warkworth Castle – ordered 10 July 1943 from Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley.

The following ships were ordered on 15 March 1943 for the Royal Navy from Canadian shipyards for completion between May 1944 and June 1945, but were all cancelled in December 1943:

  • Aydon Castle
  • Barnwell Castle
  • Beeston Castle
  • Bodiam Castle
  • Bolton Castle
  • Bowes Castle
  • Bramber Castle
  • Bridgnorth Castle
  • Brough Castle
  • Canterbury Castle
  • Carew Castle
  • Chepstow Castle
  • Chester Castle
  • Christchurch Castle
  • Clare Castle
  • Clavering Castle
  • Clitheroe Castle
  • Clun Castle
  • Colchester Castle
  • Corfe Castle
  • Cornet Castle
  • Cowes Castle
  • Cowling Castle
  • Criccieth Castle
  • Cromer Castle
  • Devizes Castle
  • Dhyfe Castle
  • Dunster Castle
  • Egremont Castle
  • Fotheringay Castle
  • Helmsley Castle
  • Malling Castle
  • Malmesbury Castle
  • Raby Castle
  • Trematon Castle
  • Tutbury Castle
  • Wigmore Castle

Castles sunk or destroyed in action[edit]

U-boats sunk by Castles[edit]

Film appearance[edit]

The final third of the film The Cruel Sea is set on the Castle-class corvette Saltash Castle (portrayed by Portchester Castle).

Post-war conversions[edit]

Three were converted to passenger/cargo ships for the Union Steamship Company of British Columbia and were known as the White Boats (see Twigg). They were operated from 1946 to 1958 but were heavy on fuel and had limited cargo capacity, for example they could not carry cars in the hold.

  • SS Camosun III — ex-HMCS St. Thomas, HMS Sandgate Castle
  • SS Chilcotin — ex-HMCS Hespeler, HMS Guildford Castle
  • SS Coquitlam II — ex-HMCS Leaside, HMS Walmer Castle

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lenton, H.T. (1998). British and Empire Warships of the Second World War. Greenhill. p. 297. ISBN 1853672777.
  2. ^ Brown, p. 131

References[edit]

  • Brown, D. K.: Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Development, 1923–1945, (2000), Annapolis, Md., Naval Institute Press ISBN 1-55750-492-X
  • Friedman, Norman: British Destroyers and Frigates: the Second World War and After (2006) Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-137-6.
  • Twigg, Arthur M.: Union Steamships Remembered: 1920–1958 (1997) ISBN 1-55056-516-8.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]