Bittern class sloop

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HMS Bittern ablaze in Namsos Fjord after having suffered a direct hit in the stern by a bomb.
Class overview
Builders:William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton, United Kingdom
John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited, Clyde, UK
J S White & Company, Cowes, UK
Operators:Royal Navy
Lost:One, HMS Bittern
General characteristics
Type: Sloop-of-war
Displacement: 1190 Tons
Length: 266 ft (81 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Propulsion: Geared steam turbines on two shafts
3,300 hp
Speed: 18.75 kt
Complement: 125
Armament: Six 4" AA guns (3x2)
Four .5" AA guns (1x4)
Enchantress (as designed):
Four 4.7" guns (4x1)
Four .5" AA guns (1x4)
Depth charges

The Bittern class sloop was a three ship class of long-range escort vessels used in the Second World War by the Royal Navy.


They were built as light, long-range escort ships with limited anti-air capability. They were fitted with Denny-Brown fit stabilisers and a HACS fire control system.

Three ships were built: HMS Enchantress, HMS Bittern and HMS Stork. HMS Enchantress, originally built as HMS Bittern but renamed before being launched in 1934, was the first in the class, and was built as an armed Admiral's yacht. Armament was 2 single 4.7 inch guns forward and 4 3 pounder saluting guns. Anti aircraft armament was installed at the outbreak of war, however the aft turret was originally replaced with accommodation and the armament was never replaced. The under-construction Enchantress was then renamed Bittern.

The design served as the basis for the Egret class sloop and the Black Swan class sloop

Ships Careers

Ship Builder Launched Fate
HMS Bittern J S White & Company, Cowes 14 July 1937 Sunk by bombing off Namsos, Norway, 30 April 1940
HMS Enchantress John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited, Clydebank 21 December 1934 Sold 1946
HMS Stork William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton, 21 April 1936 Broken up 1958

HMS Stork was completed as an unarmed survey vessel, and was only armed after the outbreak of war. The third ship in the class was launched as HMS Bittern, and completed as designed, but was lost to air attacks in the Norwegian campaign in 1940. HMS Enchantress survived the war and was sold into civilian service in 1946, being renamed Lady Enchantress. She was broken up in 1952. HMS Stork remained in service until being broken up in 1958.