HMS Mermaid (U30)

HMS Mermaid was a Modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. Mermaid saw service as a convoy escort during the Second World War, taking part in the sinking of two German submarines while escorting Arctic convoys to and from the Soviet Union.

Mermaid underway in 1944
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Mermaid
Builder: William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton, Scotland
Laid down: 8 September 1942
Launched: 11 November 1943
Completed: 12 May 1944
Fate: Sold to West Germany, 5 May 1959
West Germany
Name: Scharnhorst
Acquired: 5 May 1959
Decommissioned: 1980
Fate: Broken up, April 1990
General characteristics
Class and type: Modified Black Swan-class sloop

Mermaid was sold to Federal Republic of Germany in 1959, where she was renamed Scharnhorst and used as a training ship.


Mermaid, built by William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton, Scotland, was laid down on 8 September 1942, launched on 11 November 1943, and completed 12 May 1944.[1]

As with all the modified Black Swans, Mermaid's main gun armament was six QF 4 inch Mk XVI anti-aircraft guns in three dual turrets.[2] When completed, this was supplemented by a close-in anti-aircraft outfit of ten Oerlikon 20 mm cannon in three dual and two single mounts, although two twin 40 Bofors guns (in two twin mounts) replaced four of the 20 mm guns.[3] Anti-submarine armament consisted of 110 depth charges[4] and a Hedgehog anti-submarine spigot mortar.[3]

Royal Navy service

Mermaid's first operations were as part of the escort for the Arctic convoy JW 59 to Murmansk in August 1944, with it being credited with a part of sinking the U-boat U-354 on 24 August in conjunction with the destroyer Keppel, the sloop Peacock and the frigate Loch Dunvegan.[5][6] On the return journey from Murmansk, escorting Convoy RA 59A, Mermaid again took part in sinking a German submarine, this time U-394 on 2 September, in conjunction with a Swordfish aircraft operating from the aircraft carrier Vindex, the destroyers Keppel and Whitehall and the sloop Peacock.[5][7]

In 1945 Mermaid was assigned to the British Pacific Fleet. However arriving at Aden en route she learned of the Japanese surrender, and of her recall for service with the Mediterranean Fleet as part of the 33rd Escort Flotilla. She received the new pennant number 'F30' and was based in Malta, as part of the 3rd Frigate Flotilla. This Flotilla took part in patrols preventing illegal immigrants following the formation of Israel. She returned to Portsmouth in 1954 where was placed in reserve.[8]

She remained in the Mediterranean up to 1954 when she returned to Britain to be placed in reserve status at Portsmouth.[5] In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[9]

West German Navy service

In 1957, West Germany purchased seven escorts, including Mermaid for its newly established Bundesmarine. After refit, Mermaid was handed over to the Bundesmarine on 28 May 1959, and was renamed Scharnhorst.[10] Scharnhorst was used as a gunnery training vessel by the Germans, and was refitted with a more modern gun armament and sensors from June 1961 to July 1962, with two automatic French 100 mm naval guns replacing six manually loaded 4 inch guns, with a short range armament of four Bofors L/70 40 mm guns replacing two 40 mm guns.[1] Scharnhorst was removed from the active list in 1980,[5] and was used for damage control training until broken up in 1990.[10]


  1. Blackman 1971, p. 131.
  2. Gardiner and Chesneau 1980, p. 57.
  3. Hague 1993, p. 83.
  4. Gardiner and Chesneau 1980, p. 58.
  5. Mason, Geoffrey B (31 May 2011). "HMS MERMAID (U 30) - Modified Black Swan-class Sloop". Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  6. Blair 2000, p. 599.
  7. Blair 2000, p. 600.
  8. Marriott 1983, p. 15.
  9. Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  10. Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p. 144.


  • Blackman, Raymond V. B. (1971). Jane's Fighting Ships 1971–72. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company. ISBN 0-354-00096-9.
  • Blair, Clay (2000). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted 1942–1945. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-64033-9.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Hague, Arnold (1993). Sloops: A History of the 71 Sloops Built in Britain and Australia for the British, Australian and Indian Navies 1926–1946. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-67-3.
  • Marriott, Leo (1983). Royal Navy Frigates 1945–1983. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-7110-1322-3.
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