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Once Navy - Always Navy

HMS Ulster
History From Launch To Scrap

 

HISTORY

OF

H.M.S. ULSTER (R83/D83/F83)

U-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from Swan Hunter at Wallsend under the War Emergency Programme on 12th June 1941. The ship was laid down en 12th November 1941 and launched on 9th November 1942 as the 3rd RN ship to carry the name. It was last used by a WW1 destroyer and borne by a ship hired in 1915 for use as a Boom Defence Vessel. Build was completed on 30th June 1943. After a successful Warship Week National Savings campaign in June 1942 she had been adopted by the civil community of County Down, Ulster. In accordance with the usual practice plaques were exchanged and displayed in the Council offices and on board the ship.

 

 

 

Battle Honours

 

 

English Channel

1943

Adriatic

1944

Mediterranean

1944

Normandy

1944

 

 

Okinawa

1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Click on crest to enlarge

Heraldic Data
Badge: On a Field; Barry wavy of six White and Blue, a Dexter hand, appaume red dripping drops of blood also red.
[
A hand open and extended so as to show the palm]

(Note: The Emblem of the Province.)

 
Photo courtesy George Knight

Details of War Service

1943

June

 

Contractors trials.

 

25th

Commissioned for service in 25th Destroyer Flotilla.

 

30th

Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

 

 

On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow for work-up.

 

 

 

July

 

Worked-up for operational service with ships of Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

 

 

During work-up escorted troopship Ben Mycree to Faeroes

 

 

 

August

 

NW Approaches deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

 

14th

Deployed as escort for HM Destroyer Onslow from Scrabster to Scapa Flow.

 

 

(Note : HMS ONSLOW was taking HM King George VI for visit to Home Fleet)

 

 

 

 

15th

Took part in exercise demonstration by Home Fleet ships for Royal visitor.)

 

 

On completion of work-up took passage to Rosyth for boiler clean.

 

 

 

September

 

Deployed for interception of enemy coastal convoys in Bay of Biscay and English Channel with HM Sloop Crane, HM Destroyer Grenville and HM Cruiser Phoebe.

 

 

 

October

 

Deployed in English Channel, based at Plymouth with HM Destroyer Grenville.

 

3rd

Carried out attack on coastal convoy defended by destroyers Operation Tunnel).

 

 

(Note : During this operation in which HMS Grenville and three Hunt Class

 

 

Destroyers took part, ship was damaged by two shell hits.

 

 

HMS Grenville was also damaged, set on fire and came under friendly

 

 

fire. See “Friend or Foe” by P Kemp. “Hold The Narrow Sea” by P Smith for details of the ill-planned and very poorly executed series of operations, during one of these on October 23rd HM Cruiser Charybdis was sunk with heavy loss of life.

 

 

Under repair.

 

 

 

November

 

Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean.

 

12th

Took passage from Plymouth with HM Destroyers Rocket and Tumult as escort for HM Battlecruiser Renown.

 

 

(Note: This cruiser had Mr Winston Churchill embarked for passage to Malta)

 

17th

Independent passage to Malta with call at Algiers.

 

18th

Escorted HM Cruiser London during passage from Malta to Alexandria.

 

 

(Note: HMS London was to collect UK Defence Chiefs for return to UK after international conference in Egypt.)

 

20th

Deployed with Flotilla in Adriatic for support of military operations.

 

23rd

Damaged during support operation by return shore fire and forward structure holed above waterline. Due to the high speed extensive flooding of all forward compartments caused the ship to take on an 8 degree heel to starboard.

 

 

 

December

 

On completion of repair took passage to rejoin Flotilla for convoy defence Deployed with HM Destroyers Rocket and Grenville.

 

25th

At Algiers.

 

31st

Deployed at Bari for anti-submarine operations in Adriatic.

 

 

 

1944

 

 

 

January

 

(Note : Ship was not directly involved in support of allied at Anzio on 22nd January as no Battle Honour was awarded.

 

 

See “Engage The Enemy More Closely” by Corelli Barrett and Naval Staff

 

 

History for details of the Operation to land allied troops near Rome.

 

 

 

February

 

Adriatic duties in continuation.

 

 

Nominated for return to Home Fleet duties with Flotilla for support of planned allied landings

 

 

in Normandy. (Operation Neptune)

 

 

 

March

 

Deployed for defence of convoys on passage to Anzio.

 

24th

At Naples.

 

29th

Carried out anti-submarine operations and took part in the attacks on U223

 

 

Returned to Palermo to replenish stocks of depth charges.

 

 

 

April

 

Took passage to Scapa Flow after boiler clean at Naples.

May

 

Rejoined Flotilla in Hone Fleet.

 

 

Joined Force G of Eastern Task Force with HM Destroyers Ursa, Undaunted, Ulysses, Undine, Urchin, Urania and Grenville of Flotilla.

 

 

(Note: HM Destroyers Jervis, Cattistock, Cottesmore, Pytchley, and Polish Orp Krakowiak also were part of Force G.)

 

 

Took part in preparatory exercises with ships of Force "G" including exercises in NW

 

 

Approaches with Bombarding Forces E and K.

 

 

(Note: Bombarding Force K comprised -HM Cruisers Orion, Ajax, Argonaut, Emerald and Dutch Gunboat Flores.

 

 

Bombarding Force E comprised HM Cruisers Belfast and Diadem.)

 

 

Passage to Clyde for escort of Bombarding Force E to Channel

June

3rd

Escorted HM Cruisers Belfast and Diadem from Clyde as Convoy G14.

 

4th

Operation delayed 24 hours.

 

5th

Sailed from Solent as escort for Convoy G14 during passage through swept channel.

 

6th

On arrival at Beachhead took position off GOLD Beach and provided naval gun fire support for assault landings.

 

9th

Grounded during gunfire support and returned to Portsmouth for inspection suspected damage to underwater fittings

 

10th

Inspection revealed port propeller missing and damage to starboard propeller.

 

15th

Repair arranged at commercial shipyard in Cardiff.

 

22nd

Arrived at Cardiff for repair.

 

 

 

July

 

On completion of repair resumed Flotilla duties in Home Waters to (Note: One source suggests deployment in Channel in this period)

August

 

 

September

 

Home waters deployment in continuation.

 

 

(Note: To be confirmed as some of Flotilla were serving in the Mediterranean and others in Home waters.)

 

 

Nominated for service with Flotilla in Far East.

 

 

Passage for refit

 

 

 

October

 

Taken in hand for refit during which extensive changes were made.

 

 

(Note : New design Lattice foremast fitted in place of earlier Tripod type.

 

 

Radar Type 276 for surface warning replaced with associated Type 242 IFF

 

 

Outfit fitted in place of Type 272 fitted during build.

 

 

Some ships in Flotilla had fire control radar Type 282 fitted for Close range armament.

 

 

IFF equipment was also fitted for Type 291 Radar.

 

 

For details of development and use of radar see “Radar at sea” by D Hawse.)

 

 

 

Nov – Dec

 

Under refit.

1945

 

 

 

January

 

On completion of post refit trials prepared for foreign service.

to

 

Passage to Join British Pacific Fleet via Mediterranean.

February

 

Worked up for operational service in Mediterranean

March

 

On arrival took part in preparatory exercises with ships of British Pacific Fleet.

 

 

Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to “D” to confirm with US System of identification for destroyers.

 

 

Passage from Sydney as part of Task Force 113 to main RN operating base at Manus, Admiralty Islands.

 

7th

Arrived at Manus with Task Force 113.

 

15th

After delay by US Joint Chief of Staff approval given for British Pacific Fleet ships to join US 5th Fleet as Task Force 57 for operations against airfields in Sakishima-Gunto Group islands (Operation Iceberg One).

 

18th

Sailed from Manus to Join 7th Fleet at Ulithi

 

20th

Arrived at Ulithi.

 

23rd

Sailed for operational area as part of Task Force 57.

 

 

Deployed as Task Group 57.8 with HM Cruiser Euryalus, HM Destroyers

 

 

Grenville, Undine, Urania and Undaunted of 25th Flotilla, HM Destroyers Quickmatch, Quiberon, Queenborough and Quality of 4th Flotilla and

 

 

HM Destroyers Wager and Whelp of the 27th Flotilla.

 

 

Other ships in Task Force 57 were HM Battleship King George V (Task Group 57.1),

 

 

HM Aircraft Carriers Indomitable and Illustrious. (Task Group 57.2)

 

 

HM Cruisers Swiftsure, Gambia, Black Prince and Argonaut (Task Group 57.5)

 

25th

Refuelled from Replenishment Group with delays.

 

26th

Arrived in operational area and joined ships of US Task Force 58.

 

 

Escorted Fleet units during attacks by British carrier aircraft on airfields. (Note: Operation Iceberg One was in support of US landings on Okinawa.)

 

28th

Withdrew for replenishment.

 

31st

Resumed Fleet screening duties in operational area.

April

1st

Damaged by near miss from 5001b bomb jettisoned by Zeke aircraft being pursued by Seafire aircraft. Major damage to Engine Room and After Boiler Room. Two personnel killed and one seriously injured. Ship disabled but armament still available. (Note:4 casualties are recorded for this ship during WW2.)

Ulster, bombing - April 1, 1945
LYNCH, Robert F, Stoker 1c, C/KX 143622, killed
MASON, Douglas H, Able Seaman, C/JX 300367, killed
WELLS, Harold, Act/Stoker, C/KX 699353, killed

Ulster, bombing - April 2, 1945
GILBERT, Sidney G, Ty/Act/Leading Stoker, C/KX 97106, DOW

 

 

 

Taken in tow to Leyte by HM Cruiser Gambia

 

6th

Under temporary repair at Leyte in dry dock.

 

 

(Note: Temporary repairs to null structure were carried out by US Navy personnel and machinery

 

 

repairs by parties from HM Depot Ship Tyne.)

 

 

 

May

 

Withdrawn from operational service in Task Force 57.

 

 

Passage to Sydney on one shaft but speed for 24 knots available.

June

 

Prepared for return to UK for permanent repair.

 

 

 

July

 

Passage to UK

 

 

 

August

 

Arrived at Chatham and paid off.

 

 

(Note: Reverted to RN Pennant Number when released from BPF)

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Post-War Service

 

 

 

October

 

Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard, Chatham.

 

 

 

1946

 

 

 

February

 

Recommissioned for use as Boys Training ship in Home Fleet.

 

 

 

1947  to 1949

 

 

 

 

 

Deployed for Boys training

 

 

 

1950

 

 

 

May

 

Transferred for service in Dartmouth Training Squadron. Deployed for Cadet and Midshipman training.

 

 

 

1951

 

 

 

January

 

Transferred to Plymouth Local Destroyer Flotilla.

 

 

Deployed for local training, trials and Emergency Destroyer duty.

 

 

 

1952

 

 

 

December

 

Paid off and Reduced to Reserve status

 

 

 

1953

 

 

 

 

 

Laid-up in Reserve Fleet Division at Devonport.

 

 

 

 

 

Selected for conversion to Type 15 Anti-Submarine Frigate.

 

 

Prepared for conversion and tow to Chatham.

 

 

 

1954

 

 

 

 

 

Taken in hand for conversion by HM Dockyard, Chatham.

 

 

 

1955 to 1956

 

 

 

 

 

Under conversion.

 

 

 

1956

 

 

 

 

 

Harbour and Sea Trials on completion of Dockyard work.

 

 

Nominated for service in 8th Frigate Squadron.

 

 

 

1957

 

 

 

March

7th

Commissioned for service in 8th Frigate Squadron.

 

 

 

1958

 

 

 

August

19th

New HMS Ulster Ships Company fell in on parade ground HMS Drake marched to ship.

 

 

Commissioning Service held on forecastle.

 

 

Lower deck cleared. Articles of War Read

 

 

(Comprehensive ships movements details 1958-60 can be found at:
http://www.candoo.com/ulsternorrie/ulster/ulster11.html )

September

28th

Slip & proceed to Iceland Fishery Protection.

 

?

Events for Iceland Cod War, supplied by [L/Sea] John Rowe and two from [Ord. Seaman] Norrie Millen’s old grey cells below and up to 13th October to be confirmed. Trawler man information by [LWtr] Ken Kendall

 

?

Light Jackstay transfer with HMS Hardy

 

?

RAS Fuel with RFA Wave Ruler

 

?

Trawler man seriously injured, [Mr. Childs] transferred onboard and accommodated in sickbay until return to Plymouth. Operated on by Surgeon Lieutenant Cooke on the Wardroom Table! The operation saved his hand and arm and ships company were well rewarded by many crates of lovely fresh fish.

 

 

On fish patrol, "Sin Bosun's" nightly S.R.E. Mystery series.

 

 

Relieved on station by HMS Decoy

 

 

Proceeded to Plymouth

October

30th

Slip & proceed to Azores. Deployed as station ship West Indies [SNOWI] Commander Cameron Rusby in command.

November

3rd

Secured alongside Fuelling Jetty Ponte Delgada Azores.

 

4th

Proceeded to Bermuda.

 

10th

Secured alongside South Basin, South Jetty, Ireland Island. Bermuda

 

25th

Sailed for US Port visits, Baltimore, Washington DC & Philadelphia.

December

15th

Sailed for Bermuda.

 

17th

Arrived back in Bermuda

 

 

 

1959

 

 

 

January

24th

Slip & proceed to Key West Florida and tour of West Indies.

April

6th

Governor General Lord & Lady Hailes embarked. Mini tour of islands, Plymouth. Montserrat. St Johns Harbour Antigua English Harbour Antigua, Barbuda. Leeward Islands, Road Bay. Anguilla, Nevis., Basseterre. St Kitts Leeward Islands, Bequia, Hillsborough Bay Union Island,

April

18th

Governor General Lord & Lady Hailes disembarked.

 

 

Slip and proceed to sea – Passage to San Juan, Puerto Rico

April

24th

Secured Stern to Eastern Buoy in turning Basin with 2 anchors down. Nassau. Guardship for HMY Britannia.

April

25th

Slipped and proceeded to Bermuda.

 

28th

Berth to ‘F’ Buoy At Georges Harbour for visit of HRH Prince Philip.

 

 

Royal Guard Landed, Dressed Ship.

 

 

Royal Guard returned onboard, shifted berth to anchor off Hamilton Harbour.

 

29th

Royal Yacht Britannia left harbour

 

 

 

May

15th

HM S/M submarine Alderney berth alongside.

June

15th

Slip and proceed to sea – passage to Canada for escort duty with HMY Britannia.

 

19th

Anchored Sept Iles Canada

 

20th

Dressed Ship for arrival of Royal Yacht Britannia

 

 

Queen embarks Royal Yacht (salute by HMCS St Croix).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

June

26th

Escorted HM Yacht Britannia for official opening of St Lawrence Seaway

July

31st

August arrived back in Halifax, Royal Escort completed.

August

2nd

HM Ships Scarborough-Tenby-Salisbury entered Harbour

 

6th

Slip and proceed for Bermuda.

September

28th

HMS Troubridge arrived at Kingston to take over SNOWI duties.

October

12th

Left station and sailed for United Kingdom

1960 to 1962

 

 

Deployed on Squadron Fleet service with normal refit periods.

 

   

 

 

Fleet duties with Squadron in continuation

August

31st

Attended Trinidad Independence ceremony (from UK) at Trinidad with HM Cruiser Blake and HM Frigate Whirlwind

 

 

 

1963

 

 

Fleet duties with Squadron in continuation.

 

 

 

1964

 

 

Laid up in Reserve at Plymouth.

 

 

 

1965

 

 

Nominated for service in 2nd Frigate Squadron and brought forward from Reserve.

July 15th

 

Re-commissioned for service in 2nd Frigate Squadron.

 

 

 

1966

 

 

Deployed operationally on Fleet service.

September

 

Taken in hand for refit at Devonport.

 

 

(Note: Stem replaced by structure taken from sister destroyer HMS Urchin.)

1967

 

 

 

 

 

Withdrawn from operational service.

 

 

Nominated for duty at Portsmouth as Tender to HMS Dryad for training and trials of navigational equipment.

 

 

 

1968 to 1976

 

 

 

 

 

Deployment for navigational Equipment Trials and training based at Portsmouth in continuation.

 

 

 

1977

 

 

 

 

 

Withdrawn from service and paid off.

 

 

Towed to Plymouth for Harbour training of New Entries. (Note: Attached to HMS Raleigh)

 

 

 

1978

 

 

 

 

 

New Entry Harbour training deploys in continuation.

 

 

 

1979

 

 

 

 

 

Training requirement ceased.

 

 

Placed on Disposal List.

 

 

 

Final Phase

August

4th

1980 - HMS Ulster was sold to T W Ward for breaking up on

 

 

 

November

2nd

The ship was taken under tow to Inverkeithing, Rosyth.

 

 

 

?

?

Death of a lady. See

 

 

http://www.candoo.com/ulsternorrie/ulster/ulster7a.html

 

Addendum

 

SERVICE ON HMS ULSTER 1958-60

by Norice (Norrie) Millen

 After my RN career (1957-82) I lived in Canada for 26 years and managed to visit almost every single place on the route of 1959 with the exception of one. I am now relocated to the United Kingdom and I have probably become an expert on that particular commission which included the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway (medal below). What is more unique is that our Commanding Officer, Cdr Cameron Rusby (now a long retired Vice Admiral Sir Cameron) will be attending our final reunion this year. Comprehensive information on our memorable commission can be found by visiting
 www.candoo.com/ulsternorrie/ulster/ulsterhome.html.

As it turned out it was not our final reunion, it was so popular that shipmates voted to have another in 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of us paying off and the 52nd of commissioning Ulster.  Subsequent to that a mini reunion marking 53rd anniversary of commission was held in 2011, another planned for this year (2012) and (hopefully) a big one in 2013 which we are hoping all Ulster crews will be able to attend. Click REUNIONS

medallionfront_t.jpg (4599 bytes)  
Front
Click to enlarge

medallionrear_t.jpg (4894 bytes)
Rear
Click to enlarge

Bronze Medallion presented to 1958-60 Crew who were present at 1959 Official Opening of St Lawrence Seaway

[Click on image to enlarge]

This article recently appeared in the NOAC* magazine "Starshell" an ex-RCN reader asked I knew about the incident. As it happens I did and have a picture of the crumpled stern on this website. This article does not quite reflect information I have researched and collected.

* NOAC=Naval Officers Association Canada. Click highlighted words to proceed to crumpled stern.

 

 
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