ORP Blyskawica Museum Ship
The torpedo-boat "Blyskawica" is a precious national relic, the only remaining ship that was built before the World WAR II. On the 50th Anniversary of its service under the Polish flag, on 28th of June, was honoured with the highest military decoration - the Gold Cross of the Virtuti Militari Order. It has been the only such case in the whole history of the Polish navy. The order is a part of an exhibition below deck and its enlarged effigies have been placed at both sides of an operational deck.
Polish Navy ship "Blyskawica" was built in 1935-1937 in English shipyard "John SamuelWhite" in Cowes. The primary design was added many innovative improvements by the Polish side. Substantial part of equipment was provided by Poland. The Polish flag was raised first on 25th of November 1937. As a godmother stood the wife of the Polish ambasador to London, Mrs. Cecylia Raczynska.
The "Blyskawica", and its twinship "Grom" as well, turned out to be modern unit and to have all the necessary qualities with its high speed, heavy armament and manoeuvrability. The war outbreak prevented building two additional destroyers of the same type.
While taking part in an operation under a secret name of "Peking" on the 30th of August 1939 the "Blyskawica" accompanied by "Grom" and "Burza" destroyers passed to Great Britain to escort convoys providing for the country. On the 7th of September it attacked an enemy's submarine at the north-west shores of England and that was its first operation.
In 1940 it took part in covering actions for coastal convoys and in the Norwegian operation. The ship's artillery was destroying fire stations near Narvik and shot down two aeroplanes. The next operation was covering of the British expeditionary corps evacuation from the Dunkirk area. Having been repaired and rearmed the Polish Navy Ship "Blyskawica" served two subsequent years defending Atlantic convoys, the "Queen Elisabeth", then one of the biggest passenger vessels, included. It became famous of defending the convoy during landing troops in the North Africa. Four marines were killed by bomb fragments and several dozens were wounded. In the mid 1944 the ship joined a British-Canadian-Polish team fighting againts the enemy's naval forces in the English Channel and the Biscay Bay region. Among others the destroyer participated in two winning sea battles in the vicinity of Quessant and La Rochelle, and later used to provide supplies and arms for French resistance. The last operation of the "Blyskawica" was the operation "Deadlight" - sinking the German ships that had surrendered to the allies.
During the war the Polish navy ship "Blyskawica" covered a distance of 148 thousand of miles, quarded 83 convoys, carried out 108 operational patrols, participated in sinking two warships, damaged three submarines and shot down four war-planes for sure and quite probably three more. It was seriously damaged three times as a result of operational actions. The crew casualties aggregated to total 5 killed and 48 wounded non-coms and marines.In July 1947 the ship came back to Gdynia and started training activities. Having undergone rearmament and general overhaul it has become an anti-aircraft defence ship.
In 1976 it replaced "Burza" as a museum-warship. At present it belongs to the Navy Museum. Also adds splendour to official ceremonies with participation of the admiralty. Friends of the Museum-Warship "Blyskawica" Association was formed in 1985, and made its aim to preserve this precious national relic for posterity.
The exhibition on the Polish navy ship "Blyskawica" consists of: artillery armaments and underwater arms located on the deck, engine / boiler compartments and the permanent historical array inside.
Visitors first walk through the midship, nearby the ship bell of 1937, pass by the triple torpedo tube, cal. 533mm, then the section of a gas-steam torpedo of the after-the-war production, and the anti-aircraft twin gun "Bofors", cal. 40mm. Next to the stern depth charge throwers, mod. BMB-2 one can see the main artillery tower, cal. 100mm, contact mines, mod. 08/39 ant two depth charge release tracks. There are commemorating plates put in front of No.3 gun, that have been presented by the municipality of Cowes town in memory of defending their residents against German air raid on May 5th 1942. At the right side, by the stairs giong down under the deck, there are two depth charge throwers, of the "Thornycraft" type.
Historical array spread over 170 m2area demonstrates traditions of Polish arms at sea, since the Middle Ages till today, drawing special attention to the World War II period. Main exhibits are ship models, arms, uniforms, decorations, flags, and ensigns, documents, elements of deck equipment and other relics of the past. In the last part of the exhibition a fragment of crew lodgings and a stern radio station have been preserved. Engine rooms No. 1 and 2 (including a turbine section) as well as a boiler room have been adapted for visitors. The visitors track goes through an inside of a boiler which is specially interesting for visitors. Coming back on the deck the track turns towards the bow part, with the artillery armaments and anchoring gear. There is a souvenir store in the superstructure at the left side of the ship.
The Polish Navy Ship "Blyskawica" has been moored at a wharfside (Nabrzeze Pomorskie) in No. 1 basin of the Gdynia port, beyond the Kosciuszko Square (Skwer Kosciuszki). The ship is open for visitors from May to the middle of November daily, except Mondays and after-holiday days, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 a.m. to 5 p.m.
At the Nadmorski Bulwar in Gdynia at no great distance from the beach an outdoor exhibition of naval arms and armaments has been open to visitors. Armaments and operational equipment since 17th century until nowadays have been gethered. Especially rich is a an arms collection from the world war II time and after the war period, fighter planes and helicopters of the navy air force included. The exhibition is open to the public daily, except Mondays and after-holiday days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m (to 4 p.m. in the fall / winter season).
TECHNICAL DATA OF THE SHIP
- Full/regular displacement - 2782/2144 ton
- Length - 114 m.
- Width - 11,3 m.
- Mean draught - 3,6 m.
- Maximum speed - 40 knots
- Turbine rating - 54000 hp
- 4 twin guns cal. 100mm
- 1 anti-aircraft twin gun"Bofors", cal.40mm
- 3 anti-aircraft twin guns, cal. 37mm
- 2 anti-aircraft guns, cal. 37mm
- 1 triple torpedo tube, cal. 533mm
- 4 side depth charge throwers
- 2 stern depth charge release tracks
- 2 contact mines, model 08/39
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