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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS BIGBURY BAY (K 606) - Bay-class Frigate

Described as HMS Bigbury Bay but pennant number uncertain (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

BAY-Class Anti-Aircraft Frigate initially ordered from Hall Russell at Aberdeen on 19th January 1943  for build as a LOCH-Class Anti-submarine Frigate, but for which the ordered was changed in 1944. Originally to have been named LOCH CARLOWAY she was laid down on 30th May 1944 as Job Number  J11825 and launched  as BIGBURY BAY by Harland on 16th November 1944. First RN ship to carry  this name she was completed on 12th July 1945 to the revised design after the end of hostilities with Germany.


G e o g r a p h i c   L o c a t i on

Grid Reference SX 6342: Bigbury Bay, Devon 17km east of Plymouth.


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 Per fess Red and Black, a gridiron Gold.

(Note: This is the crest recorded in the Admiralty List after WW2.

Two unofficial crests had previously been used, one incorporating

the gold circles of the Devon County Crest and the second and arm

with a clenched fist grasping an armoured leg. This latter is part of

the design of the Coat of Arms belonging to the Armstrong

family who are major land owners at Bigbury.)


M a n n i n g    P o r t




S u m m a r y   o f   S e r v i c e

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


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Following acceptance trials the ship worked-up for operational service at Tobermory and then went to Portsmouth to prepare for service with the British Pacific Fleet. She took passage on 10th October with HM Frigate WHITESAND BAY as far as Colombo and the proceeded independently to Hong Kong where she arrived on 19th December .


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Her first deployment with the British Pacific Fleet, which had transferred to Hong Kong after being released from service with the US Navy off Japan, was to carry out patrols of the Chinese mainland. These were to protect British flagged mercantiles which traded with Chinese ports and were subject to attacks by Chinese warships or pirates. In June she went to Australia for a refit at Sydney and returned to Singapore in August. During the rest of the year she visited Japan and took part in exercises with US Navy ships in that area.


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On completion of the exercises and an anti-smuggling patrol in Sukishima Strait, she returned to Hong Kong in February having embarked 13 Japanese war criminals  for passage to face a Tribunal in Singapore. Following a Fleet exercise that month she was transferred to the Mediterranean where ships of the Fleet stationed in Malta were heavily occupied in carrying out patrols to intercept shipping taking illegal immigrants to Palestine. After arrival in Malta at the end of April she joined the 5th Frigate Flotilla and was modified for the Palestine patrols and was based at Haifa. During November whilst visiting Mudros, two of the ship’s company were drowned in a sailing accident.


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After a further Palestine patrol duty she took part in Mediterranean Fleet exercises during February and the next month was transferred for service in the West Indies and  took passage from Gibraltar in July after refit. The ship arrived in Bermuda during October and had called at Newfoundland on passage. During the next three months she  took part in local exercises with ships on the America and West Indies Station and visited St Kitts and Dominica.


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Her first year on the West Indies Station was taken up with a series of visits including Nicaragua, Honduras Mexico and ports in the southern USA. Whilst at New Orleans in February an unusual ceremony took place on board when the OBE was presented on board to a US Army Colonel for services during WW2. After then visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana, involving passage in the Mississippi river. she took part in Atlantic exercises with RCN and US Navy ships based in Cuba. Before commencing an  extensive cruise in the West Indies she refitted in Bermuda and took part in exercises with ships based at Bermuda in July. Calls were made at Antigua, Tortola, St Kitts, the Windward Islands, before refuelling in Trinidad during August prior to visit to Barbados, Venezuela and Jamaica before return to Bermuda in September. In December whilst preparing for passage to the Falkland Islands for duty as Guardship, she exercised locally. Sailing for Port Stanley in December she took passage for Trinidad before the New Year.


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Before taking up duty she called at Montevideo, Uruguay where a plaque commemorating the Battle of the River Plate was handed to the local authorities. She arrived at  Port Stanley on 30th January. Until taking return passage on 22nd March the ship visited local communities with the Governor and also went to South Georgia independently. Before arrival back in Bermuda the next month she called at Santos and Recife in Brazil with refuelling in Trinidad. Her stay was short as she sailed to recommission on May 1st, arriving at Portsmouth ten days later and began refit later that month. On completion in October she returned to the West Indies where she arrived at Bermuda on 20th of  the month. She remained in that area for exercises until the end of the year.


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Early in January the ship was deployed for exercises with NATO ships before beginning an extensive foreign visits programme to ports on the east coast of South America including Rio de Janeiro, Porto Belgrano and San Julian in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. An official visit was the made to Montevideo followed by calls at Victoria  Forteleza and a most unusual trip up the Amazon River to Manaos, and Santarem, all in Brazil. She returned to Bermuda via Port of Spain, Trinidad and St Lucia arriving on 20th April. The ship was docked on a Patent Slip at Dartmouth, Nov Scotia in June and returned Bermuda the next month for further exercises with the West Indies Squadron.  She was deployed for visits in the Caribbean area between August and the end of September when she returned to Portsmouth to Pay-off and recommission after  refit, starting in November.


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Recommissioned on 6th March this ship was deployed in Home waters and served with the 6th Frigate  Squadron, Home Fleet until September. In this period she took part in Home Fleet exercises and visited Brighton and Dieppe. She sailed for the West Indies on 4th October and arrived 12 days later with passengers. Soon after arrival she went to St Kitts , Barbados , Tobago, and after refuelling at Port of Spain called at St Vincent, St Lucia, Dominica, Monserrat and Antigua before return to Bermuda for Xmas.


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In January the ship took part in Squadron exercises at Jamaica before proceeding to take up duty as Guardship at Port Stanley in the Falklands. On passage she called at Bocas de Toro, Panama and at Bluefields in Nicaragua before returning through the Panama Canal to take passage to Rio de Janeiro and arrived in the Falklands to join HM Cruiser SUPERB. Her stay was marked by bad weather and incidents with Argentinean warships during visits to the neighbouring dependencies. She embarked the Governor for some of the visits and sailed for the return to Bermuda in July. On passage she visited Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro and Recife as well as the US Navy base at Port of Spain, Trinidad. On arrival  she was immediately sent to Kingston, Jamaica to give aid to the civil power at George town with HMS SUPERB and HM Frigate BURGHEAD BAY. the ship then visited Mackenzie with passage up the Demerara River, 60 miles from the sea. Her commission over she sailed from Bermuda on 29th October, arriving in Portsmouth on 9th November to refit.


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Refit completed in April and included the fit of the new High Definition Radar Type 974 extensively used for navigation and manoeuvring in poor weather or in close company. Before sailing for Falklands Guardship duty on 16th June she took part in Squadron exercises, During passage she called at Antigua Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo, arriving at Port Stanley on 23rd June. She carried out a patrol for surveillance of Argentine naval activities with the Governor embarked and then left for a visit to Porto Allegre in southern Argentina before calling at Montevideo for stores and mail for delivery to Port Stanley. Following patrol in west Falklands in September she again left the area and paid an Official Visit to the Chilean naval base at Punta Arenas, returning to Part Stanley, via East Falklands on 18th October. Relieved on 23rd by HM Frigate VERYAN BAY she sailed for Bermuda three days later for passage up the West Coast of South America. Calls were made at Talcahuano and Coquimbo in Chile, Talara in Peru before transit of the Panama Canal on 28th November. She arrived in Hamilton, Bermuda on 11th December after calling in Jamaica for a week stay.


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Early in January the ship prepared for attendance at Port of Spain, Trinidad during the visit by HRH Princess Margaret to the West Indies in February. She took passage via San Juan, Puerto Rica and arrived in Trinidad on 29th January. Subsequently the Royal visitor went to Rosseau, Dominica, St Kitts and the Leeward Islands. On release from escort for HM Royal Yacht BRITANNIA, the ship paid an Official Visit to the Netherlands naval base at Williamstadt, Curacoa before going  to La Ceiba, Honduras and Puerto Barrias, Guatemala during March. These visits were followed by Official calls in Kingston, Jamaica and then at Santiago da Cuba where a party went overland to the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay. Return passage to Bermuda included a visit to Nassau in the Bahamas early in April and the ship got back to base on 12th to await arrival for her relief on the West Indies Station, HMS MOUNTS BAY. Taking passage on 15th she arrived at Portsmouth on 25th and Paid-off for a Long Refit.


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Under refit, Trials and consequent repair completed in May when the ship worked-up for operational service at Portland. Transferred during refit to be based at Plymouth she arrived there to prepare for foreign service in June and sailed for the West Indies on 20th, arriving via the Azores on 2nd July. Exercises with the Squadron preceded visits to Barbados, Port of Spain and Grenada in July. In August the ship went to Dominica to asses the damage caused by a hurricane and then visited Curacoa and Belize in British Honduras. Whilst at  Grand Cayman in September she returned to Trinidad and embarked stores needed to provide aid to the civil power in Trinidad after unrest. This was not required and she returned to Kingston before going to the Bahamas. On her return passage to Bermuda she encountered particularly rough weather. Her next duty was associated with the closure of the America and West Indies Station, The ship provided the Colour Guard at the laying-up of the Queen’s Colour in the Cathedral at Hamilton when the CinC’s appointment lapsed. In future a Commodore was to be appointed as Senior Naval Officer based at Bermuda from 29th October. The ship took passage to visit Norfolk, Va and Wilmington, Delaware  on 11th November and returned on 7th December to complete the year’s programme.


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Planned exercises with HM Canadian Cruiser ONTARIO were carried out off Bermuda but an intended visit to Baton Rouge, Louisiana was cancelled in the aftermath of the Suez crisis. A visit to Havana was maintained before sailing to Belize and taking the Governor for an Official Visit to Guatemala. On completion the ship returned to Kingston and provided a Guard at the unveiling of Plaques commemorating the restoration of Port Royal after  destruction by an earthquake in the 17th century. Before return to Bermuda on 12th March she took part in exercises with the Royal Netherlands Navy off Curacoa and called at Tobago.


Her next duty was to provide the Guard at Hamilton with HM Survey Ship VIDAL during the visits by Mr H Macmillan, Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the USA, General Eisenhower. for discussion including the supply of POLARIS missiles to the UK for nuclear submarines. On 4th of April the ship was despatched to St Lucia to aid the civil power after unrest, but this was not needed and she returned to Bermuda. Her final task during this commission was to visit Jamestown, Va to join the celebrations marking the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Colony in May. This was followed by a visit to New York and she returned to Bermuda on 30th May. Sailing for Plymouth on 6th June she arrived on19th to refit and recommissioned at Devonport in November for service on the South Atlantic Station and sailed to join the Command art Simonstown on 27th November after work up at Portland. In December she called Bathurst, Freetown, Lagos, Takoradi , Port Harcourt and Cameroons in West Africa.


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The ship sailed from Victoria, Cameroons on 2nd January and arrived at Simonstown on 17th after further visits to Pointe Noire and Luanda. Soon after arrival she provided assistance in fire fighting ashore and then took part in exercises with ships of the Squadron during February. This was followed by a cruise to ports in East Africa, including East London, Beira with Durban and Port Elizabeth during return. Exercises were carried during sea passages. and the cruise completed on 26th March Until docking in May she was deployed locally for exercises at Saldahana Bay and visited Walvis Bay. Docking was completed on 15th June when she resumed service with a visit by the CinC, South Atlantic to Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban with exercises. After CinC disembarked the ship took passage to Mombasa and disposed of unwanted ammunition from Durban.


Following the assassination of King Feisal of Iraq this ship as part of the overall naval policy in respect of the Middle East the ship was transferred to the Mediterranean Station and sailed with despatch to Aden for patrol duty in the Red Sea. By 30th July she was deployed for patrol in the Tiran Straits with HM Frigate LOCH RUTHVEN. Ordered back to Aden on 7th August she called at Kameran Island in the southern Red Sea and Perim before arrival on 14th August. Before joining the Mediterranean Fleet for Cyprus patrol the ship visited Djibouti in French Somaliland and began service based at Limassol on 7th September. On completion of this duty leave was granted in Malta and she then carried out Guardship duty at Aqaba in October and a further Cyprus duty prior to taking part in a NATO Exercise during November. The decision to transfer this ship to Reserve having been made she returned to UK with  Home Fleet ships which called at Lisbon on 20th November. Whilst at Lisbon, significantly, the ship was visited by Portuguese naval officers and arrived at Devonport to Pay-off on 25th of that month after which she de-stored and reduced to Reserve status.


F i n a l   P h a s e


Placed on the Disposal List she was sold on 12th May 1959 to Portugal with HM Frigate BURGHEAD BAY for £748,130 and renamed PACHECO PEREIRA. The ship remained on the Active List of the Portuguese Navy until 1970 and was sold for breaking-up on 6th July 1970 after 25 years extensive service under two flags


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