HMS Zodiac

HMS Zodiac was a Z-class destroyer of the Royal Navy built in 1944 by John I. Thornycroft, Woolston. She served during the Second World War, participating in operations in the North Sea and off the Norwegian coast, before taking part in some of the Arctic convoys. She spent a further ten years in Royal Navy service after the end of the war, before being sold to the Israeli Navy, which operated her as INS Yaffo. She saw action during the Suez Crisis in 1956, attacking Egyptian ships and was still active by the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967.

HMS Zodiac, 23 March 1945
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Zodiac
Ordered: 12 February 1942
Builder: John I. Thornycroft, Woolston
Laid down: 7 November 1942
Launched: 11 March 1944
Commissioned: 23 October 1944
Out of service: Sold to Israel, 15 July 1955
Identification: Pennant number: R54 initially, but changed to D54 in 1945
Motto: 'Faythe hath no fear'
Honours and
Arctic 1945
Badge: On a Field Blue, a bezant rayed Gold on each point a bezant charged with the zodiac signs Black
Name: INS Yaffo
Acquired: 15 July 1955
Commissioned: July 1956
Out of service: 1972
Identification: Pennant number: K-42
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type: Z-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,710 tons
Length: 362.7 ft (110.6 m)
Beam: 35.7 ft (10.9 m)
  • Geared turbines
  • two shafts
  • 40,000 hp (30 MW)
Speed: 37 knots (69 km/h; 43 mph)
Complement: 186

Second World War

On commissioning and work up Zodiac joined the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, as part of the Home Fleet. She operated in the North West approaches and escorted some Russian convoys. In 1945 she was part of the 29th Destroyer Flotilla along with Zephyr and Zest; she was briefly stationed in the port of Wilhelmshaven, the main base of the Kriegsmarine.[1]

Postwar service

In 1946 Zodiac was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla. Between 1947 and 1948 she was held in reserve at Portsmouth. In 1949 she was part of the 2nd Training Flotilla based at Portland. In 1952 she was placed in reserve at Portsmouth and in 1954 was given a refit at Penarth, prior to being sold to Israel on 15 July 1955 with sister ship Zealous.[2]

Israeli service

Zodiac was sold to Israel in 1955 and commissioned into the Israeli Navy as INS Yaffo. She was refitted by Crighton at Liverpool and sailed for Israel in 1956.

On the morning of 31 October 1956, in the midst of the Suez Crisis, Egyptian destroyer Ibrahim el Awal, (an ex-British Hunt class destroyer), shelled Haifa harbor. A counter-attack by Yaffo and another Israeli destroyer Eilat, along with the French destroyer Kersaint forced the Egyptian destroyer to steam back towards Port Said. Ibrahim al-Awal was then also attacked by a pair of IDF/AF Ouragans and a Dakota. The crew of the badly damaged vessel finally capitulated, and the ship was towed by the Israelis to Haifa, later becoming Haifa in the Israeli Navy.[3]

Yaffo remained active until withdrawn from service in 1972. A 4.5-inch gun turret removed from her is preserved at the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, Haifa.


  1. Mason, Geoffrey B. (2004). Gordon Smith (ed.). "HMS Zodiac (R 52) - Z-class Destroyer". Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  2. Critchley, Mike (1982). British Warships Since 1945: Part 3: Destroyers. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Books. p. 84. ISBN 0-9506323-9-2.
  3. Suez Crisis Archived 23 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine


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