The Fighting Tribals
- September 1988
- A.N. Other
- Naval technology
- None noted.
- Originally published in the Naval Historical Review edition (all rights reserved)
DURING THE 1930S the Tribals were designed to lend heavier gun support to existing flotillas and were influenced by similar contemporary German (Type 1934), Japanese (Asashio Class) and the American (Gridley Class) destroyers.
Originally designated the Afridi class they became more commonly known as the Tribals later.
Compared with earlier English destroyers they carried twice as many guns and were almost 600 tons heavier and were the last British destroyer to be built on the transverse framing system.
The sixteen Royal Navy vessels were completed between May 1938 and March 1939 and were originally armed with 8 x 4.7 guns but after the Norway campaign ‘X’ turrets were replaced with twin 4″.
The Royal Canadian Navy ordered four Tribals in Britain in 1940-41 and they were completed in 1942-43. Another four were ordered in 1942 and were laid down in Canada in 1943 but were not completed till after the war. All eight of the Canadian Tribals were armed with 8 x 4″ turrets.
Australia originally intended to build seven but eventually only three were laid down.
Listed below are the names of Warramunga’s sister ships and their fates.
- Gurkha…. Sunk April 1st 1941 by aircraft off Norway.
- Mohawk…. Sunk April 16th 1941, torpedoed by Italian destroyer Luca Tariago,- Mediterranean.
- Afridi…. Sunk May 3rd 1941 by aircraft off Norway.
- Mashona…. Sunk May 28th 1941 by aircraft, North Atlantic
- Cossack…. Sunk October 25th 1941 Torpedoed U563 West of Gibraltar.
- Matabele…. Sunk January 7th 1942 Torpedoed U454 Russian Convoy PQ8, 2 survivors only.
- Maori…. Sunk February 12th 1942 by aircraft in Grand Harbour, Malta.
- Punjabi…. Sunk May 1st 1942, cut in two by King George V on Russian Convoy PQ 15.
- Bedouin…. Sunk June 15th 1942 by aircraft, Mediterranean
- Somali…. Sunk September 7th 1942, torpedoed U743 Russian Convoy QP14.
- Sikh…. Sunk September 14th 1942 by shore batteries, Tobruk.
- Zulu…. Sunk September 15th 1942 by aircraft between Tobruk and Alexandria.
- Eskimo…. Scrapped 48-49.
- Tartar…. Scrapped 48-49.
- Nubian…. Scrapped 48-49.
- Ashanti…. Scrapped 48-49.
The Admiralty in its infinite wisdom laid down in 1960 seven Type 81 Frigates, all being completed by 1964 and carried on the Tribals’ names. Ashanti, Gurkha, Mohawk, Nubian, Tartar, Zulu, Eskimo.
These Frigates were of revolutionary design using the world’s first dual propulsion machinery with a single shaft 12,500 HP steam turbine for cruising and on the same shaft a 7,500 HP gas turbine to boost to 28 knots.
ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY
- Athabaskan…. Sunk April 27th 1944, torpedoed by German destroyer T24 off St. Brieux, France.
- Iroquois…. Scrapped 1964
- Huron… Scrapped 1964
- Algonquin. Scrapped 1964
- Mimac… Scrapped 1964
- Cayuga…. Scrapped 1964
- Nootka.. Scrapped 1964
- Haida…. Preserved as Naval Museum
It is pleasing to know that at least one Tribal still survives as a museum.
The Canadian Navy in 1964 ordered four new Helicopter carrying destroyers (DOH’s) which were launched in 1970 of 4,200 tons and propelled by 500,000 HP Gas Turbines and they also saw fit to call them Tribals after previous destroyers namely Athabaskan, Irquois, Huron, Algonquin. These are currently still in service. All have now been taken off the Navy List.
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY
- Arunta…. Foundered off Broken Bay in tow to wreckers.
- Warramunga…. Scrapped 1963.
- Bataan…. Scrapped 1958.
We are indebted to a member of the HMAS Warramunga Veterans’ Association for his in depth study of this class of destroyer and the wealth of information supplied.
Join the Society today
If you enjoyed this article, then why not take out your own subscription. The Review is published quarterly to all members of the Society. By joining the Society you will always have the latest copy on hand and well before it comes onto the web site.