HMCS Swansea (K328)

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Petty Officer G Ardy, of London, Ontario, standing by the gun-shield on which are painted symbols indicating Swansea's U-boat kills.
Name: Swansea
Namesake: Swansea, Ontario
Ordered: October 1941
Builder: Yarrows Ltd., Esquimalt
Yard number: 83
Laid down: 15 July 1942
Launched: 19 December 1942
Commissioned: 4 October 1943
Decommissioned: 2 November 1945
Identification: Pennant number: K328
Recommissioned: 12 April 1948
Decommissioned: 14 October 1966
Reclassified: Prestonian-class frigate
Identification: Pennant number: 328
Motto: Floreat Swansea (Let Swansea flourish)[1]
Honours and
Atlantic 1943–44, Normandy 1944, English Channel 1944[1][2]
Fate: Sold August 1967, broken up Savona, Italy 1967
Badge: Azure in a base barry wavy of four argent and azure out of which a swan with wings displayed argent and holding in its beak or a maple leaf gules.[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: River-class frigate
  • 1,445 long tons (1,468 t; 1,618 short tons)
  • 2,110 long tons (2,140 t; 2,360 short tons) (deep load)
  • 283 ft (86.26 m) p/p
  • 301.25 ft (91.82 m)o/a
Beam: 36.5 ft (11.13 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.74 m); 13 ft (3.96 m) (deep load)
Propulsion: 2 x Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 2 shafts, reciprocating vertical triple expansion, 5,500 ihp (4,100 kW)
  • 20 knots (37.0 km/h)
  • 20.5 knots (38.0 km/h) (turbine ships)
Range: 646 long tons (656 t; 724 short tons) oil fuel; 7,500 nautical miles (13,890 km) at 15 knots (27.8 km/h)
Complement: 157
  • 2 × QF 4 in (102 mm) /45 Mk. XVI on twin mount HA/LA Mk.XIX
  • 1 × QF 12 pdr (3 in / 76 mm) 12 cwt /50 Mk. V on mounting HA/LA Mk.IX (not all ships)
  • 8 × 20 mm QF Oerlikon A/A on twin mounts Mk.V
  • 1 × Hedgehog 24 spigot A/S projector
  • up to 150 depth charges

HMCS Swansea was a Canadian River-class frigate that was the most successful U-boat hunter in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, having a hand in the destruction of four of them. She saw service in the Battle of the Atlantic from 1943–1945. Following the war she was refit as a Prestonian-class frigate. She is named for Swansea, Ontario.

Swansea was ordered in October 1941 as part of the 1942–1943 building program.[3][4] She was laid down on 15 July 1942 by Yarrows Ltd. at Esquimalt and launched 19 December 1942.[4] Swansea was commissioned into the RCN at Victoria, British Columbia on 4 October 1943 with the pennant K328.[3][4]


Main article: River-class frigate

The River-class frigate was designed by William Reed of Smith's Dock Company of South Bank-on-Tees. Originally called a "twin-screw corvette", its purpose was to improve on the convoy escort classes in service with the Royal Navy at the time, including the Flower-class corvette. The first orders were placed by the Royal Navy in 1940 and the vessels were named for rivers in the United Kingdom, giving name to the class. In Canada they were named for towns and cities though they kept the same designation.[5] The name "frigate" was suggested by Vice-Admiral Percy Nelles of the Royal Canadian Navy and was adopted later that year.[6]

Improvements over the corvette design included improved accommodation which was markedly better. The twin engines gave only three more knots of speed but extended the range of the ship to nearly double that of a corvette at 7,200 nautical miles (13,300 km) at 12 knots.[6] Among other lessons applied to the design was an armament package better designed to combat U-boats including a twin 4-inch mount forward and 12-pounder aft.[5] 15 Canadian frigates were initially fitted with a single 4-inch gun forward but with the exception of the HMCS Valleyfield, they were all eventually upgraded to the double mount.[6] For underwater targets, the River-class frigate was equipped with a Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar and depth charge rails aft and four side-mounted throwers.[5]

River-class frigates were the first Royal Canadian Navy warships to carry the 147B Sword horizontal fan echo sonar transmitter in addition to the irregular ASDIC. This allowed the ship to maintain contact with targets even while firing unless a target was struck. Improved radar and direction-finding equipment improved the RCN's ability to find and track enemy submarines over the previous classes.[5]

Canada originally ordered the construction of 33 frigates in October 1941.[5][6] The design was too big for the shipyards on the Great Lakes so all the frigates built in Canada were built in dockyards along the west coast or along the St. Lawrence River.[6] In all Canada ordered the construction of 60 frigates including ten for the Royal Navy that transferred two to the United States Navy.[5]

War service

Swansea arrived at Halifax 16 November 1943 and worked up off Pictou, Nova Scotia. She was assigned to escort group EG 9 at Derry. On her way to joining her new group, she took part in the sinking of U-845 alongside HMS Forester, HMCS St. Laurent and HMCS Owen Sound on 10 March 1944.[3][4] After sinking the submarine, Swansea, Forester and St. Laurent stopped to pick up survivors from the sunken submarine, capturing 45 German sailors between them.[4] On 14 April, having joined her group, she took part in the sinking of U-448 northeast of the Azores, this time aided by HMS Pelican.[3][4] Swansea rescued 17 German sailors from the sinking submarine this time.[4] Eight days later, on 22 April 1944, this time with HMCS Matane, Swansea sank U-311 southwest of Iceland. This kill was only awarded long after the war once the records of German and British intelligence became available.[4]

Swansea was then assigned to Operation Neptune, the naval aspect of the invasion of Normandy by Allied forces. She was present on D-day, 6 June 1944, and for the next four months patrolled the English Channel in support of the invasion. During this period, Swansea sank U-247 off Land's End in tandem with HMCS Saint John on 1 September 1944.[3][4] She returned to Canada in November 1944 for tropicalization refit which began in December at Liverpool, Nova Scotia in preparation for service in the Pacific Ocean. The refit was completed in July 1945, the first to do so, and Swansea was assessing the results in the Caribbean Sea when news of the Surrender of Japan broke. Swansea was paid off 2 November 1945 into the reserve at Bedford Basin.[3]

Postwar service

After the war, Swansea was twice recommissioned for training cadets between April 1948 and November 1953. In June 1953 she attended the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Review at Spithead.[7]

From 1956 to 1957, Swansea underwent conversion to a Prestonian-class ocean escort. This meant a flush-decked appearance, with a larger bridge and taller funnel. Her hull forward was strengthened against ice and the quarterdeck was enclosed to contain two Squid anti-submarine mortars.[8] Swansea was recommissioned 14 November 1957 with pennant number 306.[4] She served primarily on the east coast until she was paid off 14 October 1966. She was sold and broken up at Savona, Italy in 1967.[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Arbuckle, J. Graeme (1987). Badges of the Canadian Navy. Halifax, NS: Nimbus Publishing. p. 119. ISBN 0-920852-49-1. 
  2. "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Macpherson, Ken; Burgess, John (1981). The ships of Canada's naval forces 1910–1981 : a complete pictorial history of Canadian warships. Toronto: Collins. ISBN 0-00216-856-1. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMCS Swansea (K 328)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 "Fact Sheet No. 21 – Canadian River Class Frigates". Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Macpherson, Ken (1989). Frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy 1943–1974. Lewiston, New York: Vanwell Publishing. pp. 6–7, 15. ISBN 0920277225. 
  7. Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  8. Raymond V.B. Blackman, ed. (1958). Jane's Fighting Ships 1958–59. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. p. 77. 
  • McKee, Fraser M. (2003). HMCS Swansea: The Life and Times of a Frigate. St. Catharines, ON: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0920277898. 
  • Arbuckle, J. Graeme (1987). Badges of the Canadian Navy. Halifax, NS: Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 0-920852-49-1. 

External links