Military Wiki
HMS Griffin (H31)
HMS Griffin (H31) in 1936
HMS Griffin (H31) in 1936
Name: HMS Griffin
Namesake: Griffin
Builder: Vickers-Armstrongs, Barrow-in-Furness, UK
Cost: £248,518
Laid down: 20 September 1934
Launched: 15 August 1935
Commissioned: 6 June 1936
Motto: Dentibus ac rostro
(Latin : "With teeth and beak")
Fate: Transferred to Canada, 1 March 1943
Career (Canada)
Name: HMCS Ottawa
Namesake: Ottawa River

By purchase, 1 March 1943

Gifted, 15 June 1943
Commissioned: 7 April 1943
Decommissioned: May 1945
Honours and
Atlantic, 1939-45
Normandy, 1944
English Channel, 1944
Biscay, 1944
Fate: Sold for scrap, August 1946
General characteristics as built
Class & type: G class destroyer
Displacement: 1,350 long tons (1,370 t) (standard)
1,883 long tons (1,913 t) (deep load)
Length: 323 ft (98.5 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10.1 m)
Draught: 12 ft 5 in (3.8 m)
Installed power: 34,000 shp (25,000 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, Parsons geared steam turbines
3 Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 5,530 nmi (10,240 km; 6,360 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 137 (peacetime), 146 (wartime)
Sensors and
processing systems:

4 × 1 - 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns
2 × 4 - 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) machine guns
2 × 4 - 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes

20 × depth charges, 1 rail and 2 throwers
Notes: Pennant number H31

HMS Griffin (H31) was a G-class destroyer, built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. During World War II, the ship participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–May 1940 and the Battle of Dakar in September before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in November. The ship generally escorted the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they protected convoys against attacks from the Italian Fleet. Griffin participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and the evacuations of Greece and Crete in April–May 1941. In June the ship participated in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign and was escorting convoys and the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in March 1942.

Griffin did not see any action during the Japanese Indian Ocean raid in April, but was escorting convoys for most of her time in the Indian Ocean. In June, the ship returned to the Mediterranean to escort another convoy to Malta in Operation Vigorous. Beginning in November 1942, she was converted to an escort destroyer in the United Kingdom and was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on 1 March 1943. The ship, now renamed HMCS Ottawa, was assigned to escort convoys in the North Atlantic until she was transferred in May 1944 to protect the forces involved with the Normandy Landings. Working with other destroyers, Ottawa sank three German submarines off the French coast before she returned to Canada for a lengthy refit. After the end of the European war in May 1945 the ship was used to bring Canadian troops until she was paid off in October 1945. Ottawa was sold for scrap in August 1946.


Griffin displaced 1,350 long tons (1,370 t) at standard load and 1,883 long tons (1,913 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 323 feet (98.5 m), a beam of 33 feet (10.1 m) and a draught of 12 feet 5 inches (3.8 m). She was powered by Parsons geared steam turbines, driving two shafts, which developed a total of 34,000 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph). Steam for the turbines was provided by three Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers. Griffin carried a maximum of 470 long tons (480 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 5,530 nautical miles (10,240 km; 6,360 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). The ship's complement was 137 officers and men in peacetime,[1] but in increased to 146 in wartime.[2]

The ship mounted four 45-calibre 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark IX guns in single mounts. For anti-aircraft defence Griffin had two quadruple Mark I mounts for the 0.5 inch Vickers Mark III machine gun. She was fitted with two above-water quadruple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[1] One depth charge rail and two throwers were fitted; 20 depth charges were originally carried, but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[3]

Beginning in mid-1940, the ship's anti-aircraft armament was increased although when exactly the modifications were made is not known. The rear set of torpedo tubes was replaced by a 3-inch (76.2 mm) (12-pounder) AA gun and the quadruple .50-calibre Vickers mounts were replaced by 20-millimetre (0.8 in) Oerlikon autocannon. Two more Oerlikon guns were also added in the forward superstructure.[1]

Service history

Griffin was laid down by Vickers-Armstrongs Naval Construction Works at Barrow-in-Furness on 20 September 1934, launched on 15 August 1935, and completed on 6 March 1936. Excluding government-furnished equipment like the armament, the ship cost £248,518.[4] Griffin joined her sisters and was assigned to the 1st Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet upon commissioning. She escorted the ocean liner SS Strathnaver between Malta and Alexandria during the Munich Crisis in September 1938. She then escorted the light cruiser HMS Arethusa on her voyage to Aden. The ship collided with the target destroyer HMS Shikari on 2 February 1939 and her repairs were completed five days later.[5]

World War II, 1939–1942

On 3 September 1939, Griffin was in Alexandria and still assigned to the 1st Destroyer Flotilla. She was then transferred in October for duty in home waters and was rejoined her flotilla at Harwich in November, where they patrolled the North Sea and escorted local convoys.[5] The ship rescued survivors from her sister Gipsy after that ship struck a mine off Harwich on 21 November.[6] She was damaged the same month and was under repair until 6 December. In preparation for the Norwegian Campaign, Griffin was transferred to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in April 1940.[5]

The ship escorted the capital ships of the Home Fleet as they sortied into the North Sea on 7 April and continued that duty for the next several weeks.[7] On 24 April, Griffin and the destroyer Acheron captured the German trawler Schiff 26, bound for Narvik with a cargo that included mines and torpedoes.[8] The ship evacuated British and French troops from Namsos, and rescued survivors from the destroyer Afridi after she was sunk by Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers on 3 May. The Stukas also attacked Griffin, without success.[9] Griffin was then transferred to the 13th Destroyer Flotilla of the North Atlantic Command at Gibraltar.[10] She escorted the capital ships of Force H during the Battle of Dakar on 23 September, but was not engaged.[11] On 20 October, with the destroyers Gallant and Hotspur, she sank the Italian submarine Lafolè off Melilla.[10] Griffin escorted the battleship Barham and the cruisers Berwick and Glasgow during Operation Coat in early November as they joined the Mediterranean Fleet. Griffin herself was transferred to the 14th Destroyer Flotilla in Alexandria. She participated in the inconclusive Battle of Cape Spartivento on 27 November during Operation Collar.[12]

During Operation Excess, her sister, HMS Gallant, struck a mine off Pantellaria on 10 January 1941 and Griffin rescued most of the survivors.[13] In February 1941 she was transferred to the Red Sea where she escorted the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable during the latter's operations in support of the military offensive in Italian Somaliland ("Operation Canvas").[14] Griffon escorted the capital ships of the Mediterranean Fleet during the Battle of Cape Matapan on 28/29 March. With her sister Greyhound, she attacked some of the Italian destroyers, but lost them when they passed through their own smokescreen.[15] On 15 April, Griffin, the Australian destroyer Stuart, and the gunboat Gnat bombarded Axis positions near Sollum. The ship participated in the evacuation of British and Australian troops from the Greece at the end of April. On 8 May she again escorted the capital ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they covered a convoy from Alexandria to Malta.[16] During the evacuation of Crete at the end of May, Griffin evacuated 720 men from Souda Bay.[10]

During Operation Exporter, the ship escorted the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth as she bombarded Vichy French positions in Lebanon on 2 July.[17] Griffin escorted convoys to and from Tobruk from July to November.[10] On 25 November she was escorting the battleships of the Mediterranean Fleet when the battleship HMS Barham was torpedoed by German submarine U-331. The ship escorted the light cruiser HMS Naiad when she bombarded Derna in early December[18] and was transferred to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla during the month.[10] Griffin escorts convoys to Malta in January and February 1942.[19] until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean in late February.[10] Griffin was assigned to Force A of the fleet during the Indian Ocean raid by the Japanese in early April 1942. The ship returned to the Mediterranean to participate in Operation Vigorous, another convoy from Alexandria to Malta, in June.[20] She returned to the Indian Ocean afterwards and escorted convoys there until ordered home to begin conversion to an escort destroyer in September.[10]

Refit and transfer to Canada, 1942–1946

Work on the conversion began on 2 November in Southampton[10] and included the removal of two 4.7-inch guns and the 12-pounder AA gun, and their replacement with a Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar forward and additional depth charges aft. Type 286 and 271 radar sets were fitted, as well as additional 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns.[21] While still refitting, on 1 March 1943, Griffin was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy, and commissioned on 20 March, four days before her conversion was finished. The ship was renamed Ottawa on 10 April to commemorate the destroyer sunk earlier. After working up at Tobermory, she sailed for Canada, and was gifted to the Canadians on 15 June.[10]

HMCS Ottawa (H31) became the senior ship of Escort Group C5 which worked between St. John's, Newfoundland, and Derry, Northern Ireland until May 1944 when she became the senior ship of the 11th Escort Group. The 11th consisted of the destroyers HMCS Kootenay, HMCS Chaudière, HMCS Gatineau, and HMCS St. Laurent and were tasked to protect the invasion forces for D-Day. On 6 July 1944, Ottawa, Kootenay, and the British frigate, HMS Statice, sank U-678 off Beachy Head, Sussex. Ottawa and Chaudière sank U-621 on 16 August near La Rochelle and two days later they sank U-984 west of Brest.[10]

Ottawa was refitted in St. John's between 12 October 1944 and 26 February 1945. On 11 March she collided with the minesweeper HMCS Stratford off Halifax and was under repair until 30 April. After the end of the war in May the ship ferried Canadian troops back to Canada until she was paid off on 31 October. Ottawa was sold to the International Iron and Metal Company in August 1946 and subsequently broken up.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Whitley, pp. 107–08
  2. English, p. 89
  3. English, p. 141
  4. English, pp. 89–90
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 English, p. 100
  6. English, p. 95
  7. Haar (2009), pp. 86, 289, 372
  8. Haarr, p. 89
  9. Haarr (2010), pp. 169–175
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 English, p. 101
  11. Rohwer, p. 42
  12. Rohwer, pp. 47, 50
  13. English, p. 92
  14. Rohwer, p. 58
  15. Stephen, pp. 65–67
  16. Rohwer, pp. 68, 70, 72
  17. Rohwer, p. 78
  18. Rohwer, pp. 118, 123
  19. Rohwer, pp. 136, 138, 142
  20. Rohwer, pp. 154, 173
  21. Whitley, p. 108


  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9. 
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2010). The Battle for Norway: April–June 1940. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-051-1. 
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2009). The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-310-9. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Stephen, Martin (1988). Sea Battles in Close-Up: World War 2. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-556-6. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1. 
  • Winser, John de D. (1999). B.E.F. Ships Before, At and After Dunkirk. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-91-6. 

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