|Displacement||565 tons standard; 740 tons full|
|Machinery||One triple expansion reciprocating engine rated at 850 ihp, one shaft|
|Armament||1x12-pounder, 3x20mm Oerlikon cannon|
Contributor: Alan Chanter
This article refers to the entire Isles-class; it is not about an individual vessel.
To counter the serious shortfall in suitable escort vessels at the outbreak of war, large numbers of civilian deep-sea trawlers were commandeered by the British Royal Navy. Hastily armed with whatever weapons were available, these proved to be of rather dubious value. Nonetheless, many such vessels were diverted to the Auxiliary Patrol as the threat of German invasion mounted during 1940. As this threat in turn receded they were again switched to convoy support. Some of the best commercial units, such as the 655-ton "Northern Gem" type (ironically, only recently completed in Germany), served throughout the war as anti-submarine escorts or armed boarding vessels enforcing the blockade. Some were even lent to the US Navy in 1942.
Of better value however were the series of armed trawler classes specifically ordered by the Admiralty from Britain's then numerous small shipbuilding yards. The first of these, the Tree-class, began to be commissioned into the Royal Navy from as early as December 1939. The Tree-class vessels spawned the similar Dance, Shakespearean and the numerous Isles-class (of which more than 130 vessels would eventually be completed) with the production programme running through to the end of hostilities.
All Isles-class trawlers displaced between 545 and 560 tons standard, though somewhat lacking the more graceful lines of their commercial counterparts. The Isles-class design was based roughly on that of the Admiralty's 1935 460-ton HMS Basset, and had a passing resemblance to the Flower-class corvettes, with the ships bridge amidships, the mast ahead of it and a long forecastle.
A second line of development followed more handsomer lines, with the 750-ton Hill-class and Military-class (seventeen in all) coming from specialist builders Cook, Welton and Gemmell of Beverley, and the 670 ton Fish-class (10 ships) from Cochranes & Sons of Selby.
Many of these armed trawlers would be disarmed and decommissioned with the ending of hostilities, and sold on as war surplus to new foreign or civilian owners where they would continue to see useful service for many years to come.
Jane's Warships of World War II (Harper Collins, 1996)
Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II (Studio Publishing, 2001)
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