Castle Class Corvettes
HMS FLINT CASTLE which was to be the second longest serving "Castle Class" ship of the Royal Navy. (unknown photo credit)
The Castle Class was an improved Flower Class Ship, bigger and more powerful, with far better sea keeping qualities.
Designed with a strengthened bow to mount the Squid Anti Submarine Mortar and longer to accommodate the sonar's and improve sea keeping. They were fine looking ships. The crew accommodation which in the Flower Class had been somewhat primitive to say the least was also greatly improved in the bigger Castle Class ships.
Although as they carried around 30 more crew than the smaller "Flowers" conditions were still very cramped, and could be pretty dangerous in some of the heavy weather that the Castle's had to endure in the North Atlantic, and there were reports of ships having to fight there way through "Force 11" winds with mountainous seas.
However the Castle used the same power plant as the Flower and being larger she was hopelessly under powered. Helmsmen found it difficult to hold the ship in heavy seas and at low revs they lacked manoeuvring ability, crucial for the Squid which could not be aimed, the ship had to turn onto the target.
Despite the design difficulties their crew's stuck to the job and were very successful in the battle of the Atlantic and they also fought in the bitter waters of the Artic Convoys to Russia.
These Castle Class Corvettes were a much improved vessel to the Flower class Corvettes The improved length designed by William Reed of Smith's Dock made these more suitable for Atlantic Weather conditions. With the Addition of Squid which improved its anti Submarine capabilities.
The Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb were to build three of the Castle Class ships.
They were standard armament of 1 x 4" Gun, with 6 x 20mm Oerlikons , along with the anti submarine squid projectile, a weapon that fired forward of the ship, multiple bombs for attacking submerged submarines which had been picked up on the ships radar.
The first on the stocks was the Corvette HMS FLINT CASTLE (Ship No 343) which was launched on 1st of September 1943 a near 4 month build time.
This was quickly followed by the Corvette originally to be named as HMS GUILDFORD CASTLE (Ship No 344) she was in fact laid down as the Canadian Forces ship HMCS HESPELER and she was launched in November 1943 after a build time of just over 6 months.
The 3rd Corvette laid down was the Corvette to be named HMS HEDINGHAM CASTLE (Ship No 345) before being transferred to the Canadian Navy with the name of HMCS ORANGEVILLE launched in January of 1944 after a six month build time.
The Castle class ships were such good sea keeping vessels that some of them were sold on after the war to run as cargo/cruise ships on the west coast of Canada.