HMS Pelican (L86)

HMS Pelican (L86) was an Egret class sloop, built for the British Royal Navy. She was active during the Second World War and was a successful anti-submarine warfare vessel, being credited with the destruction of four U-boats.

HMS Pelican in 1944
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Pelican
Builder: Thornycroft, Woolston
Laid down: 7 September 1937
Launched: 12 September 1938
Commissioned: 2 March 1939
Identification: pennant number: L86, later U86, B294 British Pacific Fleet, F86 post war
Fate: Scrapped 1958
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Egret-class sloop
Displacement: 1,200 tons
Length: 276 ft (84 m)
Speed: 19.25 knots (35.65 km/h; 22.15 mph)
Complement: 188


Pelican was ordered on 19 March 1937 under the 1937 Building programme from JI Thornycroft at Woolston, Hampshire. She was laid down on 7 September 1937, launched 12 September 1938, and completed 2 March 1939. Designed as a general-purpose vessel, and intended for use as a survey ship in the West Indies, Pelican was modified during her build for service as a convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare ship.[2]

Service history

After commissioning and working up Pelican was assigned to Fishery Protection, and at the outbreak of the Second World War joined convoy defence duties in the North Sea. In April 1940 Pelican took part in the Norwegian Campaign and was badly damaged in an air raid off Narvik.[2]

After repairs Pelican returned to local escort work but spent much of 1941 under repair following enemy action and accidental damage.[2]

In January 1942 Pelican was assigned to 45 Escort Group escorting OS/SL convoys to and from West Africa. In July 1942 she took part in the destruction of U-136 while escorting convoy OS 33.[3] In October she was part of the escort force for Operation Torch.[2]

After repairs and a refit Pelican was appointed senior officers ship to 1st Support Group, tasked with reinforcing convoys under attack. In May 1943 the group joined the battle around convoy ONS 5, sinking U-438.[4] In June with ONS 10, Pelican sank U-334.[5] In the autumn of 1943 1SG worked on the Gibraltar route, but saw little action.[2]

In March 1944 after a further refit Pelican was assigned to 7 EG patrolling outside the Bay of Biscay; there she took part in the destruction of U-448.[6] In June 1944 Pelican was part of Operation Neptune, escorting troops and supplies to and from Normandy until withdrawn for refit prior to joining the British Pacific Fleet.[2]

On passage to the Far East Pelican was accidentally damaged at Aden and spent the next year at various dockyards under repair.[2]

Post war service

With the end of hostilities Pelican remained in service, operating with the Mediterranean Fleet. She received the new pennant number 'F86' and was based in Malta, as part of the 2nd Frigate Flotilla. This Flotilla took part in patrols preventing illegal immigrants prior to the foundation of the state of Israel.[7] In 1951 she was paid off and laid up in Reserve.

Re-commissioned in 1954 she served in the South Atlantic before finally decommissioning in 1956. Pelican was scrapped in 1958.[2]

Battle Honours

During her service Pelican was awarded five battle honours.[8]


Name[9] Commenced Moved
Cdr. LA BoswellJanuary 1939January 1941
Cdr. GA GladstoneSeptember 1941November 1942
Cdr. JG GouldNovember 1942April 1943
Cdr. GN BrewerApril 1943August 1943
Cdr. JS DalisonSeptember 1943May 1944
Lt. CE SheenMay 1944December 1945
Capt. Christopher D. Bonham-CarterSept 19491951


During her service Pelican was credited with the destruction of four U-boats:

Date U-boat Type Location[10] Notes
11 July 1942U-136VIICNW of Madeira
33°30′N 22°52′W
d/c and sunk by Spey, Pelican, Léopard[11][12]
6 May 1943U-438VIICNE of Newfoundland
52°00′N 38°20′W
d/c by Pelican[13][14]
14 June 1943U-334VIICW of Butt of Lewis
58°16′N 45°10′W
d/c by Jed, Pelican[15][16]
14 April 1944U-448VIICN of Azores
46°22′N 19°35′W
d/c, gunfire, by HMCS Swansea, Pelican[17][18]


  1. Conway p57
  2. G Mason,
  3. Blair I p668
  4. Blair II p292
  5. Blair II p355
  6. Blair II p496
  7. Marriott p.15
  8. Warlow p
  9. G Helgason
  10. Locations per Kemp; other sources may differ
  11. Kemp p84
  12. Neistle p45
  13. Kemp p114
  14. Neistle p65
  15. Kemp p125
  16. Neistle p55
  17. Kemp p183
  18. Neistle p66


  • Clay Blair, Hitler’s U-Boat War Vol I (1996). ISBN 0-304-35260-8
  • Clay Blair : Hitler's U-Boat War Vol II (1998) ISBN 0-304-35261-6
  • 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.
  • R Gardiner, R Gray : Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921 (1985) ISBN 0-85177-245-5
  • Paul Kemp  : U-Boats Destroyed (1997) . ISBN 1-85409-515-3
  • Leo Marriott (1983). Royal Navy Frigates 1945-1983. Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7110-1322-3
  • Axel Neistle  : German U-Boat Losses during World War II (1998). ISBN 1-85367-352-8
  • Warlow, B : Battle Honours of the Royal Navy (2004) ISBN 1-904459-05-6
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