O and P-class destroyer

The O and P class was a class of destroyers of the British Royal Navy. Ordered in 1939, they were the first ships in the War Emergency Programme, also known as the 1st and 2nd Emergency Flotilla, respectively. They served as convoy escorts in World War II, and some were subsequently converted to fast second-rate anti-submarine frigates in the 1950s.

HMS Oribi in 1946
Class overview
Name: O and P class
Preceded by: L and M class
Succeeded by: Q and R class
Subclasses: 4 inch O, 4.7 inch O, P
Completed: 16
Lost: 4
Retired: 12
General characteristics P class[1]
Type: Destroyer
Length: 345 ft (105 m) o/a
Beam: 35 ft (10.7 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: 2 x Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers, Parsons geared steam turbines, 40,000 shp on 2 shafts
Speed: 36.75 kt
Range: 3,850 nmi at 20 kt
General characteristics (4.7 inch O class)
  • 1,610 tons (1,636 tonnes)
  • 2,270 tons (2,306 tonnes) full load
Complement: 176 (217 in leader)
Notes: Other characteristics as per P class
General characteristics (4 inch O class)
  • 1,540 tons (1,564 tonnes)
  • 2,220 tons (2,255 tonnes) full load
Notes: Other characteristics as per P class


The O and P class were based on the hull and machinery of the preceding J class, but with more sheer forward to counter the poor riding qualities of the Js. These ships used the Fuze Keeping Clock HA Fire Control Computer.[2]

O class

The O-class ships were built in two groups of four. The first group had 4.7 in guns. They were in low-angle mounts which could elevate to only 40 degrees, and were additionally fitted with a 4 in anti-aircraft gun in place of one set of torpedo tubes. The second group had 4-inch (102 mm) guns in high-angle mounts and were fitted to act as minelayers; they could be recognised by the flat "beaver tail" stern over which the mines were dropped. When carrying mines they had to land Y gun, their torpedo tubes and depth charges. The designed anti-aircraft armament was one quadruple QF 2-pounder "pom pom" and a pair of quadruple 0.5-inch Vickers A/A machine guns. The latter proved to be outdated, and were replaced by 20 mm Oerlikon guns as they became available, with a total of six single mounts eventually being carried.

P class

The P class were repeats of the O class, armed entirely with 4 in guns, in high-angle mounts fitted with a new tall design of shield which did not require the ships to lose a set of torpedo tubes to take on further AA guns.


O class

All ships survived the war. Five of them were involved in the Battle of the Barents Sea, Onslow being badly damaged. After the battle, the ships were refitted with tall lattice masts instead of the normal mast.

Name Pennant
Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
4.7 inch-armed ships
Onslow *


G17 John Brown 1 July 1940 31 March 1941 8 October 1941 To Pakistan 1949 as Tippu Sultan, sold out
Offa G29 Fairfield 15 January 1940 11 March 1941 20 September 1941 To Pakistan 1949 as Tariq, sold for scrap in 1959.
Onslaught (ex-Pathfinder) G04 14 January 1941 9 October 1941 19 June 1942 To Pakistan 1951 as Tughril, sold out.
Oribi(ex-Observer) G66 15 January 1940 14 January 1941 5 July 1941 To Turkey 1946 as Gayret, sold out.
4 inch-armed ships
Obdurate G39 Denny 25 April 1940 19 February 1942 3 September 1942 Sold for scrap in 1964 at J Cashmore's, Newport, Monmouthshire.
Obedient G48 22 May 1940 30 April 1942 30 October 1942 Sold for scrap - 1964.
Opportune G80 Thornycroft 28 March 1940 21 February 1942 14 August 1942 Sold for scrap - 1955.
Orwell G98 20 May 1940 2 April 1942 17 October 1942 Converted to Type 16 frigate 1952, sold for scrap – 1965.

* = flotilla leader
† = fitted for minelaying

P class

They served mainly in the Mediterranean, where four ships were lost.

Name Pennant
Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
Pakenham *


G06 Hawthorn Leslie 6 February 1940 28 January 1941 4 February 1942 Disabled by gunfire from Italian Navy torpedo boats Cassiopea and Cigno off Marsala 1943-04-16, abandoned and scuttled by sister ship HMS Paladin (see Battle of the Cigno Convoy.)
Paladin G69 John Brown 22 July 1940 11 June 1941 December 1941 Converted to Type 16 frigate 1954, sold for scrap in 1962
Panther G41 Fairfield 15 July 1940 28 May 1941 12 December 1941 Bombed and sunk by German Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka' aircraft in Scarpanto Strait on 10 September 1943.
Partridge G30 3 June 1940 5 August 1941 22 February 1942 Torpedoed by German Submarine U-565 off Oran, 18 December 1942.
Pathfinder G10 Hawthorn Leslie 5 March 1940 10 April 1941 13 April 1942 On 11 February 1945, Pathfinder was hit by a Japanese bomber off Ramree, and was taken out of service. She was used as an aircraft target, sold for scrap in 1948.
Penn G77 Vickers Armstrongs 26 December 1939 12 February 1941 10 February 1942 Sold for scrap - 1949.
Petard G56 27 March 1941 15 June 1942 Converted to Type 16 frigate, sold for scrap 1967.
Porcupine G93 10 June 1941 31 August 1942 Torpedoed by German submarine U-602 in the Mediterranean on 9 December 1942 which broke her in two; she was never repaired, but hulked as Pork and Pine, sold for scrap – 1947.

* = flotilla leader

See also

  • Type 16 frigate: postwar conversion of some O and P class vessels into second-rate fast anti-submarine frigates.


  1. British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, H. T. Lenton, Greenhill Books, ISBN 1-85367-277-7
  2. Destroyer Weapons of WW2, Hodges/Friedman, ISBN 0-85177-137-8


  • Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893–1981, Maurice Cocker, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
  • Connell, G. G. (1982). Arctic Destroyers: The 17th Flotilla. London: William Kimber. ISBN 0-7183-0428-4.
  • English, John (2001). Obdurate to Daring: British Fleet Destroyers 1941–45. Windsor, UK: World Ship Society. ISBN 978-0-9560769-0-8.
  • Friedman, Norman (2006). British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War and After. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-86176-137-6.
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7.
  • 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.
  • Raven, Alan; Roberts, John (1978). War Built Destroyers O to Z Classes. London: Bivouac Books. ISBN 0-85680-010-4.
  • 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.
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