HMS Erne (U03)

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HMS Erne (U03) in March 1943
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Erne (U03)
Builder: Furness Shipbuilding
Laid down: 21 September 1939
Launched: 5 August 1940
Commissioned: 3 April 1941
Fate: Scrapped 27 October 1965
General characteristics
Class and type: Black Swan-class sloop

HMS Erne (U03) was a Black Swan-class sloop laid down by Furness Shipbuilding at Barrow-in-Furness on 21 September 1939, launched on 5 August 1940 and commissioned on 3 April 1941.

She took her name like others in her class from birds, in this case a White-tailed Eagle, also known as the Erne.

World War II

On 30 April 1941, while Erne, (Lt.Cdr. H.M. Darell-Brown, RN) was still at the builders yard (4 days after commissioning), a near miss during a German air attack caused heavy damage. Repairs took until June 1942.

On 31 July 1942, depth charges from the three British sloops Erne, (Lt.Cdr. E.D.J. Abbot, RN), Rochester (Cdr. C.B. Allen, RN) and Sandwich (Lt.Cdr. H. Hill, RNR) sank the German submarine U-213 in the North Atlantic east of the Azores, in position 36º45'N, 22º50'W.

On 29 August 1942, Erne, still under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Abbot, scuttled the Dutch merchant Zuiderkerk with depth charges. The German submarine U-566 had torpedoed the Zuiderkerk west-north-west of Lisbon, Portugal in position 40º20'N, 16º02'W. A torpedo had caused extensive flooding of the forward holds, which forced the 56 crew members and twelve passengers to abandon ship in the early morning. Leith picked up the survivors.

In December 1943 Lt.Cdr. Walter Raleigh Hickey, RNR assumed command, holding it until 18 June 1945. His replacement was Lt.Cdr. James Arbouin Burnett, RN, who held command until 15 June 1946.


Erne was reduced to a drill ship on 4 June 1952 and renamed Wessex. In 1965 she was sold for scrap and arrived at Antwerp on 27 October 1965 where she was broken up.