HMS Arbuthnot (1942)

HMSAS Lake Victoria (DDE-1942)


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The Captain class destroyer escorts resulted from the Lend/Lease 1941 to 1942. The Royal Navy's most pressing need was for escorts and it enquired of the Bureau of design if they had a 300 foot escort that would suit being used in the North Atlantic. The USN showed the RN designs they had for the Evarts class and others with engine types and layouts being the difference. The RN placed an order in 1940 for 30 ships of the Evarts type to which the RN would supply the armament.  This would keep the cost to a reasonable level. A further order was placed in 1942 under Lend-Lease at which stage the Southern Africans also ordered some. Most merchant ships travelling from UK to US/Canada were empty so a few were filled with the appropriate weaponry and dispatched. Eventually over 120 of these ships were incorporated into the various Commonwealth and Allied Nations. (Free French, Dutch, Poles, Norwegians and others all had Captain class)

Twin 4" aft and two single 4" forward were the main armament (replacing the single 3"of the US design), with a quad pom pom for the heavy AA (replacing the original 1.1") and the single 20mm were retained as being the same as those fitted in RN ships. A triple set of torpedo tubes gave the ships teeth for use against bigger opponents. The final change was the fitting of a hedgehog spigot mortar ASW weapon in A position, replacing the single 4" there. This gave the ships a very good all round armament for use against either surface, air, or subsurface targets. Captain class ships participated in the sinking of more than 30 German submarines.

The circle shows where the Gunnery director control unit was to be fitted. It was one of the differences between the USN and RN ships. The USN ships with three single 3" were never given any gunnery control and were controlled by an officer shouting from the bridge and local control.

The ships make an interesting comparison to the Hunt Class Destroyer Escorts and River Class Frigates ships which were of a size with these vessels. These Captain class ships were rated as DDE's but if the torpedoes were removed, to help with stability, then they were re-rated as Frigates.


Displacement 1250 tons std, 1600 tons full load.
Length 306 ft
Breadth 35 ft
Draught 10 ft
Machinery 2 shaft Steam turbines, 13,000shp
Speed 24 knots
Range 5000 miles at 15 knots
Armament 3 x 4" (1x2, 1x1)
4 x 2pd (1x4)
8 x 20mm (8x1)
Torpedoes 3 x 21" (1x3)
Complement 185

In that other time line the Royal Navy received a lot of Evarts and Cannon class Frigates under lend-lease. One of the things that bugged the Americans about this was that the Royal Navy then went through a 90-100 point list of changes that had to be made to the ships prior to acceptance to the RN. This sort of thing was done to all the different classes of ships received by the RN under lend-lease from the Escort Carriers to the Algerine class minesweepers and other escorts. If you have the time it is worthwhile having a look at the list of changes shown in Wiki for the Captain Class Frigates. Of course this delayed the use of the ships from 1-3 months at a time when the RN was desperate for escorts.


Captain-class frigates sunk or seriously damaged (Real Timeline)
Date Ship Incident Casualties
1 March 1944 Gould Torpedoed and sunk by U-358 south-west of Ireland in position 4546′N 2316′W / 45.767N 23.267W / 45.767; -23.267 (Gould sunk). Loss of 123 hands.
8 June 1944 Lawford Hit by a Glider bomb launched from a Luftwaffe aeroplane in her hull, port side midships, that blew out the bottom of the ship which quickly sank, off J1 Sector of Gold Beach on D-Day+2. Loss of 26 hands.
11 June 1944 Halstead Torpedoed by an E-boat in mid channel off Normandy that blew off her bow section, she was written off as a constructive total loss. Loss of 27 hands.
15 June 1944 Blackwood Torpedoed by U-764, the forward part of ship was blown off; the hulk sank at 04.10Hrs the next morning. Loss of 60 hands.
26 June 1944 Goodson Torpedoed by U-984 approximately 38 nautical miles (70 km) south of Portland Bill in position 5000′N 0248′W / 50.000N 2.800W / 50.000; -2.800 (Goodson sunk); badly damaged towed back to port and assessed as a constructive total loss. No fatalities.
22 August 1944 Bickerton Torpedoed by U-354 during Operation Goodwood in the Barents Sea; in position 7242′N 1911′E / 72.700N 19.183E / 72.700; 19.183 (Bickerton sunk) seriously damaged and ship abandoned, sunk by own forces. Loss of 39 hands.
1 November 1944 Whitaker Torpedoed by U-483 off Malin Head, near Loch Swilly, Ireland; she was seriously damaged, and towed back to Belfast. Declared a constructive total loss. Loss of 92 hands.
2 November 1944 Mounsey Torpedoed by U-295 outside the Kola Inlet but managed to limp back to Polyarnoe, where she was patched up by the Russians and managed to get back to Belfast before Christmas for permanent repairs. Loss of 10 hands.
6 December 1944 Bullen Torpedoed midships and sunk off Cape Wrath by U-775 in position 5842′N 0412′W / 58.700N 4.200W / 58.700; -4.200 (Bullen sunk). Loss of 55 hands.
25 December 1944 Dakins Hit a ground mine off the Belgium coast; she was towed into Antwerp where she was declared a constructive total loss. No fatalities.
26 December 1944 Capel Torpedoed by one of two torpedoes fired by U-486, she sank having had her bow blown off north-north-east of Cherbourg, in position 4950′N 0141′W / 49.833N 1.683W / 49.833; -1.683 (Capel sunk). Loss of 76 hands.
26 December 1944 Affleck Torpedoed off Cherbourg by one of two torpedoes fired by U-486, which seriously damaged her stern. She was towed back to port and assessed as a constructive total loss. Loss of 9 hands.
26 January 1945 Manners Torpedoed by U-1051 off the Isle of Man. She was towed back to Barrow-in-Furness and declared a constructive total loss. Loss of 43 hands.
15 April 1945 Ekins Hit two ground mines in the Scheldt Estuary, towed back to port and put into dry dock, when water was pumped out she broke her back and was written off as a constructive total loss. No fatalities
27 April 1945 Redmill Torpedoed by U-1105 25 nautical miles (46 km) west of Silgo Bay, Ireland in position 5423′N 1036′W / 54.383N 10.600W / 54.383; -10.600 (Redmill torpedoed) towed into Belfast with serious damage. Written off as a Constructive Total Loss. Loss of 24 hands.
29 April 1945 Goodall Torpedoed by U-286 outside the Kola Inlet 6929′N 3338′E / 69.483N 33.633E / 69.483; 33.633 (Goodall sunk). Goodall was the last ship of the Royal Navy sunk in the European theatre of World War II. Loss of 98 hands.


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