ORP Piorun (G65)

ORP Piorun was an N-class destroyer operated by the Polish Navy in World War II. The word piorun is Polish for "Thunderbolt". Ordered by the Royal Navy in 1939, the ship was laid down as HMS Nerissa before being acquired by Poland, before completion, in October 1940.

ORP Piorun returns to Plymouth after the struggle against the German battleship Bismarck
History
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Nerissa
Operator: Royal Navy
Ordered: 15 April 1939[1]
Builder: John Brown & Company, Clydebank
Cost: £400,963.16s
Laid down: 26 July 1939
Launched: 7 May 1940
Notes: Transferred to Polish Navy, October 1940
Poland
Name: ORP Piorun
Namesake: Lightning
Operator: Polish Navy
Completed: 4 November 1940
Acquired: Transferred to Polish Navy, October 1940
Commissioned: 4 November 1940
Identification: Pennant number: G65
Fate: Returned to Royal Navy, 1946
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Noble
Acquired: August 1946
Recommissioned: 26 October 1946
Fate: Scrapped, 1955
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: N-class destroyer
Displacement:
Length: 356 ft 6 in (108.7 m) (o/a)
Beam: 35 ft 9 in (10.9 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.8 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 Shafts; 2 steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 183
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament:

In May 1941 ORP Piorun locate the German battleship Bismarck, and drew its fire, while other units of the Royal Navy task force caught up to sink the Bismarck.

After World War II, Piorun was returned to the Royal Navy and recommissioned as HMS Noble before being scrapped in 1955.

Design

The eight ships of the N-class were ordered on 15 April 1939. They were a repeat of the J- and K-class destroyers, 16 of which were ordered in 1937.[2][3]

The N-class were 339 feet 6 inches (103.48 m) long between perpendiculars and 356 feet 6 inches (108.66 m) overall, with a beam of 35 feet 8 inches (10.87 m) and a draught of 9 feet (2.7 m).[4] Displacement was 1,773 long tons (1,801 t) standard and 2,384 long tons (2,422 t) full load. Two Admiralty three-drum boilers fed steam at 300 pounds per square inch (2,100 kPa) and 620 °F (327 °C) to Parsons to two sets of Parsons single-reduction geared-steam turbines, rated at 40,000 shaft horsepower (30,000 kW). This gave a design speed of 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph) at trials displacement and 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph) at full load. 491 tons of oil were carried, giving a range of 5,500 nmi (6,300 mi; 10,200 km) at 15 kn (17 mph; 28 km/h) and 3,700 nmi (4,300 mi; 6,900 km) at 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h).[5]

As designed, the N-class were to be armed with six 4.7 in (120 mm) QF Mark XII guns in three twin mountings, two forward and one aft. These guns could only elevate to an angle of 40 degrees, and so were of limited use in the anti-aircraft role. A short range anti-aircraft armament of a four-barrelled 2-pounder "pom-pom" anti-aircraft mount and eight .50 in machine guns in two quadruple mounts on the bridge wings was to be fitted, while torpedo armament was to be ten 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes in two quintuple mounts.[6] Early experience of the vulnerability of destroyers to air attack off Norway and during the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 resulted in the armament of the N-class being revised during construction. The aft set of torpedo-tubes was removed and replaced by a single 4 in (102 mm) QF Mark V anti-aircraft gun,[7] while the quadruple .50 in machine guns on the bridge wings were replaced by two single Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, with two more Oerlikons abaft the searchlight, while two twin .50 inch machine guns were mounted on the ships' quarterdeck.[8]

History

The ship was built by John Brown & Company of Clydebank, Glasgow. She was laid down in July 1939, launched on 7 May 1940 and completed on 4 November 1940. Initially commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Nerissa, she was later transferred to the Polish Navy as a replacement for the destroyer ORP Grom, which had been lost off the Norwegian coast on 4 May 1940.

Piorun was based in Great Britain and commanded by Commander Eugeniusz Pławski. Between 13 and 15 March 1941, while undergoing repairs in John Brown's shipyard, she took part in the defence of Clydebank against air raids by the Luftwaffe. A memorial to the ship's crew was later erected in Clydebank.

Bismarck action

On 22 May 1941, Piorun, with ships of the British 4th Destroyer Flotilla (HMS Cossack, HMS Maori, HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu), commanded by Captain Philip Vian, provided additional escort to troop convoy WS8B en route from Glasgow to the Indian Ocean. On 25 May, Vian's destroyers (including Piorun) were detached from the convoy to join the search for the German battleship Bismarck.

Piorun took part, along with the British destroyers, in the search for Bismarck (she was the first of the destroyers to spot the German ship). She joined in the shadowing of and torpedo attacks on the German battleship the night before Bismarck was sunk. Arriving first on the scene with the British Tribal-class destroyer Maori, Piorun charged at Bismarck by herself, while Maori manoeuvred for position to fire torpedoes. Alone, Piorun exchanged fire with Bismarck for an hour, with neither side scoring any hits—although after the third salvo, Bismarck missed by only 20 yards (18 m), causing Pławski to pull away.

According to one report (detailed at the Auschwitz I exhibition, Oświęcim, Poland), Pławski transmitted the message "I am a Pole" before commencing fire on Bismarck; other sources say the signal to commence fire was "Trzy salwy na cześć Polski" ("Three salvoes in honor of Poland").[9][10] This manoeuvre and the subsequent withdrawal caused Piorun to lose contact with Bismarck.

Piorun was very low on fuel, so at 05:00 she was ordered home before she had used her torpedoes. Pławski was reluctant to leave the area and ignored Vian's order for an hour before returning to the United Kingdom.[11]

Subsequent activity

Piorun subsequently operated in the Mediterranean, taking part in Operation Halberd, one of the Malta convoys and Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. In 1944 she was transferred to the Home Fleet.

Piorun took part in Operation Deadlight, and took part in the sinking of the captured German Type XXI submarines U-2329, U-2334, U-2335, U-2337, U-2350 and U-2363.

She was returned to the Royal Navy in 1946, as HMS Noble and scrapped in 1955.

Notes

  1. "ORP Piorun (G 65)". U-boat.net. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  2. English 2001, p. 127
  3. Friedman 2008, pp. 326–327
  4. Whitley 2000, p. 117
  5. Lenton 1970, p. 136
  6. Whitley 2000, pp. 117–118
  7. Friedman 2008, pp. 48, 94
  8. Lenton 1970, p. 135
  9. Jerzy Pertek, Wielkie dni małej floty (Great Days of a Small Fleet), Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 1990.
  10. Damski, Z. Atakuje was Piorun, Wydawnictwo MON, 1981.
  11. Pursuit: the Sinking of the Bismarck. UK: Book Club Associates. 1975. p. 175.

References

  • 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.
  • English, John (2001). Afridi to Nizam: British Fleet Destroyers 1937–43. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9.
  • Friedman, Norman (2006). British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War and After. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-86176-137-6.
  • Friedman, Norman (2008). British Destroyers and Frigates: The Second World War and After. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-015-4.
  • Hodges, Peter; Friedman, Norman (1979). Destroyer Weapons of World War 2. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-137-3.
  • Langtree, Charles (2002). The Kelly's: British J, K, and N Class Destroyers of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-422-9.
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7.
  • Lenton, H.T. (1970). Navies of the Second World War: British Fleet & Escort Destroyers Volume One. London: Macdonald & Co. ISBN 0-356-02950-6.
  • March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953; Drawn by Admiralty Permission From Official Records & Returns, Ships' Covers & Building Plans. London: Seeley Service. OCLC 164893555.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen; Hümmelchen, Gerhard (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-117-7.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.
  • Whitley, M. J. (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Cassell & Co. ISBN 1-85409-521-8.


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