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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS ULSTER (R 83) - U-class Destroyer

HMS Ulster (Norrie Millen, click to enlarge)

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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.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


H e r a l d i c   D a t a


Badge: On a Field : Barry wavy of six White and Blue,

a  Dexter hand  appaume Red.

(Note: The Emblem of the Province.)


(Navy Photos/George Knight)



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information,  go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



1 9 4 3


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 MY CREE 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



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.

                                (Operation TUNNEL Series See HOLD THE NARROW SEA by P Smith.)


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.


1 9 4 4


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 Home Fleet.

                                Joined Force G of Eastern Task Force with HM Destroyers URSA, UNDAUNTED,

                                ULYSSES, UDINE, 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



                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.)




                                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.)


November              Under refit.




1 9 4 5


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


                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.



                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.)

                                Taken in tow to Leyte by HM Cruiser GAMBIA

                6th          Under temporary repair at Leyte in dry dock.

                                (Note: Temporary repairs to hull 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)



S u m m a r y    o f    P o s t     W a r    S e r v i c e


October                  Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard, Chatham.


1 9 4 6


 February               Recommissioned for use as Boys Training ship in Home Fleet.


1 9 4 7    t o    1 9 4 9


                                Deployed for Boys training


1 9 5 0


May                        Transferred for service in Dartmouth Training Squadron. Deployed for Cadet and

                                Midshipman training.


1 9 5 1


January                  Transferred to Plymouth Local Destroyer Flotilla.

                                Deployed for local training, trials and Emergency Destroyer duty.


1 9 5 2


December              Paid off and Reduced to Reserve status


1 9 5 3


                                Laid-up in Reserve Fleet Division at Devonport.


1 9 5 3


                                Selected for conversion to Type 15 Anti-Submarine Frigate.

                                Prepared for conversion and tow to Chatham.


1 9 5 4


                                Taken in hand for conversion by HM Dockyard, Chatham.


1 9 5 5    t o    1 9 5 6


                                Under conversion.


1 9 5 6


                                Harbour and Sea Trials on completion of Dockyard work.

                                Nominated for service in 8th Frigate Squadron.


1 9 5 7



                7th          Commissioned for service in 8th Frigate Squadron.


1 9 5 8


August                  Deployed as station ship West Indies [SNOWI] Commander Cameron Rusby in command



1 9 5 9



                26th        Escorted HM Yacht Britannia for official opening of St Lawrence Seaway


1 9 6 0     t o    1 9 6 1


                                Deployed on Squadron Fleet service with normal refit periods.


1  9 6 2


                                Fleet duties with Squadron in continuation.

                                Attended Independence ceremony at Trinidad with HM Cruiser BLAKE and HM Frigate



1 9 6 3


                                Nominated for reduction to Reserve.


September             Paid off and Reduced to Reserve status at Plymouth.

                                Equipment under Care and Maintenance by Reserve Fleet personnel.


1 9 6 4


                                Laid up in Reserve at Plymouth.


1 9 6 5


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


                15th        Re-commissioned for service in 2nd Frigate Squadron.


1 9 6 6


                                Deployed operationally on Fleet service.


September             Taken in hand for refit at Devonport.

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


1 9 6 7


                                Withdrawn from operational service.

                                Nominated for duty at Portsmouth as Tender to HMS DRYAD for training and trials of

                                navigational equipment.


1 9 6 8    t o    1 9 7 6


                                Deployment for navigational Equipment Trials and training based at Portsmouth

                                in continuation.


1 9 7 7


                                Withdrawn from service and Paid Off.

                                Towed to Plymouth for Harbour training of New Entries.

                                (Note: Attached to HMS RALEIGH.)


1 9 7 8


                                New Entry Harbour training deploys in continuation.


1 9 7 9


                                Training requirement ceased.

                                Placed on Disposal List.


F i n a l   P h a s e


HMS ULSTER was sold to T W Ward for breaking up on 4th August 1980.The ship was taken under tow to Inverkeithing, Rosyth where she arrived on 2nd November that year.





No Convoy Escort Movements Reported




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 out final reunion this year. Comprehensive information on our memorable commission can be found by visiting


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