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HMS Cossack (F03)
HMS Cossack.jpg
HMS Cossack under way in 1938
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Laid down: 9 June 1936
Launched: 8 June 1937[1]
Commissioned: 7 June 1938
Identification: Pennant number: L03, F03 & G03 successively
Fate: Sunk 27 October 1941
General characteristics
Class & type: Tribal-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,870 tons
Length: 364 ft 8 in (111.15 m)
Beam: 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)
Draught: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion: 3 Admiralty 3-drum boilers at 300 lb/, all with 2 shaft Parsons geared turbines developing 44,430 hp (trials)
Speed: 36.2 knots (trials)
Complement: 219
Armament: 8 x 4.7 in twin turrets
1 x quadruple 2 pdrs anti-aircraft guns
2 × quadruple 0.5 cal machine guns
1 x quadruple torpedo tube (21 Mk IX Torpeoes)
2 x Depth charge throwers
1 x depth charge rail

HMS Cossack was a Tribal-class destroyer named after the Cossack people of the Russian and Ukrainian steppe. She became famous for the boarding of the German supply ship Altmark in Norwegian waters, and the associated rescue of sailors originally captured by the Admiral Graf Spee. She was torpedoed by U-563 and sank on 27 October 1941.


She was laid down at the Walker Naval Yard of Vickers-Armstrongs in Newcastle upon Tyne on 9 June 1936, launched on 8 June 1937 by Mrs. S. V. Goodall, commissioned on 7 June 1938 and completed on 14 June 1938.

Altmark incident

Cossack's first action was on 16 February 1940. This was the Altmark Incident in Jøssingfjord, Norway which resulted in the freeing of the Admiral Graf Spee's prisoners who were being held aboard the supply ship Altmark and the death of seven crew members of the German ship. Cossack arrived at Leith on 17 February with the 299 freed prisoners.[2] The Norwegian Government subsequently protested at the Cossack's breach of Norway's neutrality and demanded the return of the prisoners (the same that the Norwegian Navy pronounced as non-existent), with the German Government further protesting at the act of violence committed against the Altmark.[3]

Second Battle of Narvik

Cossack participated in the Second Battle of Narvik in April 1940. Later that year, she was part of the force which was assigned to hunt for a German surface raider that had been reported breaking out into the North Atlantic. The force consisted of the battlecruiser HMS Hood, the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh, and the destroyers HMS Electra, HMS Echo, HMS Escapade, and Cossack. The report turned out to be false, so after spending a week at sea, including Christmas Day, she returned to port on New Years Eve.

Chasing the Bismarck

In May 1941, she participated in the pursuit and destruction of the Bismarck. While escorting Convoy WS-8B to the Middle East, Cossack and four other destroyers broke off on 26 May, and headed towards the area where Bismarck had been reported. They found her that evening and made several torpedo attacks in the evening and into the next morning. No hits were scored, but they kept her gunners from getting any sleep, making it easier for the battleships to attack her the next morning.


On 23 October 1941, Cossack was escorting a convoy from Gibraltar to the United Kingdom when she was struck by a single torpedo fired by the German submarine U-563 commanded by Klaus Bargsten. She was taken in tow by a tug from Gibraltar on 25 October, but the weather worsened and the tow was slipped on 26 October. Cossack sank in the Atlantic west of Gibraltar on 27 October 1941. 159 of her crew were lost.


  1. The Times (London), Wednesday, 9 June 1937, p.13
  2. The Times (London), Monday, 19 February 1940, p.10
  3. The Times (London), Monday, 19 February 1940, p.8


  • Brice, Martin H. (1971). The Tribals. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0245-2. 
  • English, John (2001ISBN 0-905617-95-0). Afridi to Nizam: British Fleet Destroyers 1937–43. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. 

External links

Coordinates: 35°56′N 10°4′W / 35.933°N 10.067°W / 35.933; -10.067

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