Royal Navy Town Class Destroyers of WW2
Anti- Submarine escort ships of the RN were in short supply, they were desperately needed to escort the convoys carrying vital supplies from North America to Britain.
Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1940, struck a deal under the US Lend Lease Act whereby, 50 old US WW1 Destroyers, which had been part of the US moth ball Fleet since the 1920's, were to be handed over to Britain, in exchange for 99 year leases on bases in the Western Hemisphere.
The Leased Sites
Britain granted these long leases which allowed the US to build bases on: Antigua, British Guiana, Jamacia, St Lucia, Bermuda, Trinidad, and Newfoundland.
50 Destroyers of the Clemson Class
Eight went off to the Royal Canadian Navy, but all of them needed extensive refits if they were to cope with Atlantic Ocean conditions.
They has a huge turning circle, and very narrow sterns which put the propellors at risk when coming alongside a pier or wharf.
In any sort of sea they reportedly rolled alarmingly, and the US Navy warned the British that, as the oil fuel was used up, it was wise to refill the empty oil tanks with sea water to stop the possibility of a ship capsizing. This was an unusual practice for the Royal Navy, who did not take kindly to the possible contamination of salt water in the oil fuel.
This class of ship may best be described as similiar in age, size and armament with the British WW1 V & W Class Destroyers. The Royal Australian Navy had HMAS Vampire, HMAS Waterhen etc in this Class of ship, and they were part of the so called Scrap Iron Flotilla, that served with great distinction in the Mediterranean in WW2, they kept besieged Tobruk alive, by often completing the Spud Run.
By 1943, the use made of most of these old ships had been downgraded, the need for them had passed.
Eight went off to Russia, with French, Norwegian and Polish sailors manning others. The US Navy still had another 80 of this Class of Destroyer, although they were in much better shape than those traded to Britain.
U-Boats versus Town Class Destroyers
They managed to sink 7 of them:
The flip side of the battle with the U-Boats
Typical Statistics of these Destroyers
Britain paid a heavy price for these ships, undoubtedly, it was the United States that reaped the greater reward from this deal, than did Britain.