Battle Class

Overview

Country: United Kingdom

These destroyers were ordered in two batches of 16 and 21 respectively. Commissioned 1944-1947 they were originally intended for Pacific operations, with a greater radius of action and powerful light A.A armament. Only eight of the second batch were completed as Battle Class destroyers; most were cancelled when it became clear the war was being won and they would not be needed.

They were known as steady ships, with very little vibration and good sea-keeping and handling qualities, but the mess-decks were cramped and overcrowded and they were thought to be under-gunned. A number of the 1942 ‘Early Battle Class’ saw service post-war, serving with the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet until its disbandment in 1953. Several then went permanently into reserve. Others served with the home and Mediterranean fleets into the early 1960s, all being scrapped by 1972.

Those later Battle class vessels which were not scrapped before completion survived for post-war use. Of the eight completed, several served with the 4th Destroyer Squadron in Home and Mediterranean waters 1951- 1959.

Three standard destroyers of the class – Aliment, Dunkirk and Jutland were scrapped 1964-65. Matapan, having been in reserve since 1947, was extensively converted into a Sonar Trials Ship 1971-73 and was decommissioned in 1978, the longest serving class member in the Royal Navy. Four - Agincourt, Aisne, Barrosa and Corunna, were converted to aircraft direction pickets from 1959, with addition of a new operations centre, the removal of most the secondary armament and addition of a large lattice radar mast and Seacat missile launcher. They served in home waters, the Mediterranean and the Far East and were decommissioned 1970-72. The last Royal Navy survivor Barrosa was not scrapped until 1978.

Some served with foreign navies including those of Pakistan (two from 1957) and two with the Australian Navy until broken up in 1975.

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