Pad­dles left en­tire class at greater risk from enemy

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS -

HMS Chel­tenham was one of 32 minesweep­ers of the Race­course class built for the Royal Navy dur­ing World War One un­der the Emer­gency War Pro­gramme.

De­signed to op­er­ate in Bri­tain’s coastal wa­ters, HMS Chel­tenham and her sis­ter ships were made of wood so as not to at­tract mag­netic mines.

The ves­sels were also driven by pad­dle­wheels which in­con­gru­ously gave them the ap­pear­ance of plea­sure boats. The pad­dles proved problemati­c. In heavy seas the pad­dle boxes be­came chocked with wa­ter and slowed the ships to a stand­still, not ideal when op­er­at­ing in U-boat in­fested seas.

Con­se­quently, about a quar­ter of the Race­course class fell prey to Ger­man sub­marines, among them HMS As­cot which had the un­for­tu­nate dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the last Royal Navy ves­sel to be sunk by a U-boat in the war.

She was tor­pe­doed near the Farne Is­lands off the Northum­ber­land coast. Hap­pily, HMS Chel­tenham sur­vived. She was built in June 1916 on Cly­de­side by the Ar­drossan Dry­dock and Ship­build­ing Com­pany, dis­placed 810 tons, was 235ft long, 29ft wide, had a top speed of 15 knots and a crew of 50.

HMS Chel­tenham was in ser­vice un­til 1927 when she was bro­ken up.

HMS Chel­tenham

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