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Ford class Seaward Defence Boat – 1952

Seaward Defence boat - designed to defend harbours their purpose to detect, locate and destroy enemy submarines, including midget submarines. They had comprehensive electrical equipment and depth charges to achieve their task. The Ford class Seaward Defence [SD] Boats are not to be confused with the earlier HMS Ford, a Hunt class minesweeper of the Royal Navy from the Great War renamed from HMS Fleetwood prior to launch. The Seaward Defence Branch was formed to replace DEFPA secondment,(defense of ports and anchorages) which was an RNR requirement. They were basically securing ports and roads from foreign terrorist infiltration, boarding merchant ships from RIBs, and closing down access to/from civilian ports. They were binned around 1994.

Ford class was a variation on the basic hull design: 100 ft long x 19ft 8 ins beam x 6ft 6 ins draft, powered by three shafts with a Foden diesel on the centre shaft and two Paxman YHAX 550 bhp diesels on the outer shafts. The craft were capable of 14 knots on the outer shafts. If using the center shaft a speed of 6 knots could be achieved. The three shafts never ran together. What passed for the wardroom was claustrophobic accommodation, the ratings enjoyed a bit more space and even bunks, the galley was between the two compartments. In addition to the single 40mm bofors gun and fittings for machine guns on the bridge wings, they could armed with two chaff-dispensing rocket launchers. Initially it was planned mount a single barreled Squid anti-submarine mortar, but this special version of the Squid was a failure. The first Ford-class boat, HMS Shalford was fitted with a normal three-barreled Squid and the remaining vessels with a more conventional anti-submarine armament of a single 3-barrel SQUID anti-submarine mortar depth-charge throwers.

Externally, the most distinctive feature of the Fords was their twin thin elliptical funnels, set side by side, relatively far aft on the hull. This, combined with their sharply raked bows, gave them a “lean and mean” appearance, rather reminiscent of the motor torpedo boats and motor gunboats of WWII, though lacking the heavy armament and high speed of the latter.

The Coastal Forces of World War II made a major and vital contribution to the naval successes of the war. Manned largely by peacetime volunteer reserves and wartime sailors, smaller the Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), Motor Gun Boats (MGBs) and Motor Launches (MLs) e increase in the number, type and capability of boat was dramatic and they were increasingly at sea harassing the enemy and performing a range of aggresive operations around the English Coast. The end of World War II saw a massive reduction in Coastal Forces although the Royal Navy continued to use various types of fast patrol boats until the late 1970s. Coastal Forces bases around the British coast closed with cessation of hostilities. Some World War II Vosper, British Power Boats, Fairmile Bs and Camper and Nicholsons craft were retained until the mid-1950s. Nine ex-Short British Powerboat MTBs were modified as the “Proud Class” and a large number of Harbour Defence Motor Launches were redesignated as Seaward Defence MLs and used for a wide range of coastal tasks. Although in essence Coastal Forces ceased in the late 1950s small numbers of this type of craft continued both with the Braves and then Fast Patrol Boats, termed FPBs.

Over the period 1949-54 extensive fixed defenses were built in major coastal areas : Portsmouth, Devenport, Milford Haven, Belfast, the Forth, the Clyde, Lowch Ewe, the Tyne, Scapa Flow, the Thames, the Humber, Dover and Harwich. But by the mid-1950s it became increasingly clear that the defened ports were also targets for atomic bombing, and that the seawad defenses could not protect every smaller port and anchorage.

Type Large patrol craft
  • 120 long tons (122 t) standard
  • 140 long tons (142 t) full load
  • Length
  • 117 ft 2 in (35.71 m) o/a
  • 110 ft (34 m) p/p
  • Beam 20 ft (6.1 m)
    Draft 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
  • 1 × Foden diesel (center shaft)
  • 2 × Davey Paxman 12YHAX 550 hp (410 kW) diesels (outer shafts)
  • 23 tons oil fuel
  • Speed 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
    Armament Depth charge rails with both large and small charges
    Complement 19

    Page last modified: 18-08-2016 15:46:45 Zulu