Military Wiki
River-class frigate
HMS Swale K217.jpg
HMS Swale
Class overview
Succeeded by: Loch class
Subclasses: RN group I, RN group II, RAN group I, RAN group II, RCN group
In commission: 1942
Planned: 30
Completed: 151
Cancelled: 2
Lost: 5 World War II
2 Suez Crisis
10 expended
Preserved: 1
General characteristics RN group I
Displacement: 1,370 long tons (1,390 t; 1,530 short tons)
1,830 long tons (1,860 t; 2,050 short tons) (deep load)
Length: 283 ft (86.3 m) p/p
301.25 ft (91.8 m)o/a
Beam: 36 ft 6 in (11.1 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m); 13 ft (4.0 m) (deep load)

2 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 2 shafts, reciprocating vertical triple expansion, 5,500 ihp (4,100 kW)

(except Cam, Chelmer, Ettrick, Halladale, Helmsdale & Tweed; Parsons single reduction steam turbines, 6,500 shp (4,800 kW)
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
20.5 knots (38.0 km/h; 23.6 mph) (turbine ships)
Range: 440 long tons (450 t; 490 short tons) oil fuel; 7,200 nautical miles (13,300 km; 8,300 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 107
General characteristics (RN group II)
Range: 646 long tons (656 t; 724 short tons) oil fuel; 7,500 nautical miles (13,890 km) at 15 knots (27.8 km/h)
Notes: Other data as per RN group I
General characteristics (RCN group)
Displacement: 1,445 long tons (1,468 t; 1,618 short tons)
2,110 long tons (2,140 t; 2,360 short tons) (deep load)
Range: 646 long tons (656 t; 724 short tons) oil fuel; 7,500 nautical miles (13,890 km) at 15 knots (27.8 km/h)
Complement: 157
Notes: Other data as per RN group I
General characteristics (RAN group I)
Displacement: 1,420 long tons (1,440 t; 1,590 short tons)
2,020 long tons (2,050 t; 2,260 short tons) (deep load)
Range: 500 long tons (510 t; 560 short tons) oil fuel; 5,180 nautical miles (9,593 km) at 12 knots (22.2 km/h)
Complement: 140
Notes: Other data as per RN group I

The River-class frigate was a class of 151 frigates launched between 1941 and 1944 for use as anti-submarine convoy escorts in the North Atlantic.

The majority served with the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), with some serving in the other Allied navies; the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Free French Navy (FFN), the Royal Netherlands Navy and, post-war, the South African Navy (SAN). Ten ships built in Canada were assigned to the United States Navy (USN) to cover for a shortage of suitable convoy escorts until American-built ships became available. In the event, only two were commissioned in the USN, the remaining eight were commissioned in the RN and RCN. Twelve River-class frigates were built in Australia for the RAN (four to a modified design), the last of which is HMAS Diamantina, preserved as a museum ship at the Queensland Maritime Museum in Brisbane, Australia.

After World War II they found employment in many other navies the world over; several RCN ships were sunk as breakwaters. One, HMCS Stormont, was purchased by Aristotle Onasis and converted into the luxury yacht Christina O.


The River-class ships were designed by naval engineer William Reed to have the endurance and anti-submarine capabilities of the Black Swan-class sloops, while being quick and cheap to build in civil dockyards using the machinery (e.g. reciprocating-steam engines instead of turbines) and construction techniques pioneered in the building of the Flower-class corvettes.

The River-class design was used as the basis for the United States Navy's Tacoma class (which served in the Royal Navy as the Colony class), and the hull design was later elaborated into the Loch class, and subsequently the Bay class.

Ships in class

151 frigates were built for seven navies during World War II.

Vessels lost in action

River class ships lost to enemy action
Ship Date Fate
HMS Cam 1944 Mined. Towed to port and declared a total loss.
HMCS Chebogue 4 October 1944 Torpedoed and badly damaged by U-1227 while escorting convoy ONS-33. Towed to port and declared a total loss.
HMS Cuckmere 11 December 1943 Torpedoed and badly damaged by U-223 off Algeria. Towed to port and declared a total loss.
HMS Itchen 23 September 1943 Torpedoed and sunk by U-666 at 53-25N, 39-42W.
HMS Lagan 20 September 1943 Torpedoed and badly damaged by U-270. Towed to port and declared a total loss.
HMCS Magog 14 October 1944 Torpedoed and badly damaged by U-1223 while escorting convoy ONS-33G. Towed to port and declared a total loss.
HMS Mourne 15 June 1944 Torpedoed and sunk by U-767 at 49-35N, 05-30W.
HMS Teme 29 March 1945 Torpedoed and badly damaged by U-315. Towed to port and declared a total loss.
HMS Tweed 7 January 1944 Torpedoed and sunk by U-305 at 48-18N, 21-19W.
HMCS Valleyfield 7 May 1944 Torpedoed and sunk by U-548 at 46-03N, 52-24W.

In preservation and in fiction

  • River-class frigate HMCS Stormont served as a convoy escort during the Battle of the Atlantic and was present at the D-Day landings.[1] In 1947 Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis purchased her for scrap value and converted her into a luxurious superyacht named Christina O, after his daughter. The vessel is now owned by John Paul Nicolaou, who lets the yacht for elite charters and cruises.



  • Lavery, Brian (2006). River-Class Frigates and the Battle of the Atlantic: A Technical and Social History. London: National Maritime Museum. ISBN 0-94-806573-7. 
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7. 
  • Marriot, Leo (1983). Royal Navy Frigates 1945-1983. Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1322-5. 

External links

  • HMS Tweed (K250)
  • Usk
  • HMS Waveney (K248)
  • HMS Wear (K230)
  • Windrush
  • HMS Wye (K371)

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