Acorn Class Destroyers

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 362.5 ft
Beam 37.75 ft
Draft 16.23 feet
Displacement 1,700 tons
Performance Speed (max) 36 knots
Speed (cruising) 20 knots
Endurance 3,000 nm @ 20 knots
Armament Guns 2 4 inch Mark XIX, 2 40mm
ASW 2 Limbo


The A class destroyers were the first post-war British warships to be ordered. They were a derivative of the final British pre-war destroyer design, the M Class, and were more or less identical to those ships up to main deck level. However, above that point, they bore little resemblance to the prewar ships. The forecastle deck was taken right back almost to the stern, creating a large sheltered amidships area. The designers had taken note of the arrival of nuclear weapons and decided that the primary anti-ship effect of these was blast. So, they created a very strong, streamlined effect by "squashing down" the ship, eliminating as much superstructure as possible and transferring the functions of the superstructure to within the hull. The bridge was only a single deck above the forecastle deck with only vestigial structures, including the funnel and mast, aft of that point.

The A class destroyers were intended primarily as general purpose patrol ships with a strong anti-submarine bias. Their design drew heavily on the proposed Canadian anti-Type XXI modernization program that was intended for application to fleet destroyers. The primary armament of the A-class was two Australian Limbo anti-submarine mortars at the rear of the forecastle deck. These were automatically loaded from within the deckhouses built into the extended forecastle. Other than the two mortars, the rest of the armament was determined by what was available. This amounted to a twin Mark XIX 4 inch gun mount aft and a twin 40mm Bofors gun forward.

What was not easily visible on these ships was their command control facilities. These were elaborate and intended to represent the state of the art in anti-submarine warfare. In addition, the machinery was shock-mounted and sound-isolated, making the A class destroyers, in theory at least, a very efficient submarine hunter. In fact, much of this equipment was unavailable when the ships were launched and they had an excess of unused internal volume. This made them very suitable for use as training ships and they spent most of their careers attached in rotation to the re-founded Brittania Naval College at Dartmouth.

The Acorn class spent most of their lives in fairly mundane duties and all four were taken out of service in 1981. Acorn and Acasta were converted into target ships and sunk in that role. Ardent was scrapped and this fate awaited Afridi. However, when the Falklands War erupted in 1982, Afridi was hastily recovered by the Navy and quickly converted into an assault transport, losing her Limbos in exchange for additional troop capacity and a Rotodyne pad. In this form, she played a key role in the recovery of South Georgia.

Class Members

Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Acorn 1952 1952 1955 1957 Sunk as target 1981
Ardent 1952 1953 1956 1957 Scrapped 1981
Acasta 1953 1953 1956 1957 Sunk as target 1982
Afridi 1953 1954 1956 1957 Scrapped 1984
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