Isles-class file photo [13656]

Isles-class Trawler

CountryUnited Kingdom
Displacement565 tons standard; 740 tons full
Length150 feet
Beam27 feet
Draft11 feet
MachineryOne triple expansion reciprocating engine rated at 850 ihp, one shaft
Speed12 knots
Armament1x12-pounder, 3x20mm Oerlikon cannon


This article refers to the entire Isles-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbaseTo 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.

ww2dbaseOf 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.

ww2dbaseAll 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.

ww2dbaseA 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.

ww2dbaseMany 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)

Last Major Revision: Sep 2011

Isles-class Trawler Operational Timeline

8 Aug 1941 The construction for trawler Anticosti was ordered.
9 Oct 1941 The keel of trawler Anticosti was laid down.
1 Apr 1942 Trawler Anticosti was launched.
8 Oct 1942 Trawler Anticosti was commissioned into service.
30 Apr 1943 The keel of trawler Gulland was laid down.
21 Jul 1943 Canadian trawler HMCS Anticosti completed her refit at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada.
5 Aug 1943 British trawler Gulland was launched.
30 Oct 1943 HMT Gulland was commissioned into service.
17 Jun 1945 Trawler Anticosti was decommissioned from Canadian service and was returned to the British Royal Navy.
13 Apr 1951 Merchant ship Arab Trader ran aground three miles north of Mombasa, Kenya.
14 Apr 1951 Merchant ship Arab Trader sank off Mombasa, Kenya after running aground on the previous day.


HMCS Anticosti, date unknownHMT Gulland underway off Britain, Nov 1943HMT Ailsa Craig underway off Britain, 1944

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
7 Sep 2011 02:09:48 PM

Good article on a under-appreciated class of ships.
2. james says:
25 Jan 2018 09:22:48 AM

Does anyone know what the boiler pressure was on this class? not a random Q... can explain!

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More on Isles-class Trawler
Ships of this Class:
» Anticosti
» Gulland

Isles-class Trawler Photo Gallery
HMCS Anticosti, date unknown
See all 3 photographs of Isles-class Trawler

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