Black Swan class sloop

Black Swan class sloop
HMS Black Swan
HMS Black Swan
Class overview
Name: Black Swan class
Operators: Royal Navy
Royal Indian Navy
Built: 1938–1946
In commission: 1939–1967
Planned: 42
Completed: 13 (original) + 24 (modified)
Cancelled: 5
Lost: 6
General characteristics
Type: Sloop-of-war
Displacement: 1,250 tons original
1,350 tons modified
Length: 299 ft 6 in (91.29 m)
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m) original
38 ft 6 in (11.73 m) modified
Draught: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Propulsion: Geared turbines, 2 shafts:
3,600 hp (2.68 MW) (original)
4,300 hp (3.21 MW) (modified)
Speed: 19 knots (35 km/h) (original)
20 knots (37 km/h) (modified)
Range: 7,500 nmi (13,900 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h)
Complement: 180 (original)
192 (modified)

6 × QF 4 in (102 mm) Mk XVI AA guns (3 × 2)
4 × 2 pdr AA pom-pom
4 × 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) AA machine guns (original)

12 × 20 mm Oerlikon AA (6 × 2) (modified)

The Black Swan class and Modified Black Swan class were two classes of sloop of the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy. Thirteen Black Swans were launched between 1939 and 1943, including four for the Royal Indian Navy; twenty-four Modified Black Swans were launched between 1942 and 1945, including two for the Royal Indian Navy; another five ships were cancelled in 1945.



Like corvettes, sloops of that period were specialized convoy-defence vessels, except that sloops possessed much superior anti-aircraft fire control via the Fuze Keeping Clock and a heavy armament of high angle 4 inch guns while retaining excellent anti-submarine capability. They were designed to have a longer range than a destroyer at the expense of a lower top speed, while remaining capable of outrunning surfaced Type VII and Type IX U-boats.

In World War II, Black Swan-class sloops sank 29 U-boats. The most famous sloop commander was Captain Frederic John Walker. His sloop Starling became one of the most successful submarine hunters, taking part in the sinking of eleven U-boats.

After the war, sloops continued in service with the Royal Navy, Egyptian Navy, Indian Navy, Pakistan Navy and the West German Navy. In April 1949, Amethyst was attacked on the Yangtze River by the Communist People's Liberation Army.

Also, several Black Swan sloops fought in the Korean War.

Ship classes

Black Swan class
Royal Navy

The first two ships were built under the 1937 Programme and the second pair under the 1939 Programme. The remaining five RN ships were ordered under the 1940 War Programme; there were incremental improvements as the building developed, and the Woodcock and Wren when completed were practically indistinguishable from the Modified Black Swan class.

  • West Germany as Graf Spee 21 January 1959. Sold for breaking up 25 October 1967.
  • Black Swan, built by Yarrow & Company, Scotstoun, laid down on 20 June 1938, launched on 7 July 1939, and completed 27 January 1940. Sold for breaking up September 1956.
  • Erne, built by Furness Shipbuilding, laid down on 22 September 1939, launched on 5 August 1940, and completed 26 April 1941. Became RNVR training ship Wessex on the Solent 4 June 1952, broken up October 1965.
  • Ibis, built by Furness Shipbuilding, laid down on 22 September 1939, launched on 28 November 1940, and completed 30 August 1941. Sunk by Italian torpedo bombers off Algiers on 10 November 1942.
  • Whimbrel, built by Yarrow, laid down on 31 October 1941, launched on 25 August 1942, and completed 13 January 1943. Transferred to Egypt as El Malek Farouq November 1949, renamed Tarik 1954.
  • Wild Goose, built by Yarrow, laid down on 28 January 1942, launched on 14 October 1942, and completed 11 March 1943. Sold for breaking up February 1956.
  • Pakistan as Sind 1948. Sold for breaking up 2 June 1959.
  • Narbada, built by Thornycroft, launched on 21 December 1942, and completed 29 April 1943. Transferred to Pakistan as Jhelum 1948. Broken up July 1959.
Modified Black Swan class
Royal Navy

Eleven ships were in the 1940 Supplementary War Programme:

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