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Gay-class patrol boat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HMS Gay Bombardier.jpg
HMS Gay Bombardier, fitted out in the motor torpedo gunboat design, undergoing trials in Portsmouth Harbour in 1953
Class overview
Name: Gay class
Operators:  Royal Navy
Succeeded by: Dark class
Built: 1952–1954
In commission: 1953–1971
Completed: 12
Retired: 12
Preserved: 1
General characteristics
Type: Fast patrol boat
  • 50 long tons (51 t) (standard)
  • 65 long tons (66 t) (deep)
Length: 75 ft 2 in (22.91 m)
Beam: 20 ft 1 in (6.12 m)
Draught: 4 ft 1 in (1.24 m)
  • 3 × V12 Packard engines
  • 1,500 hp
Speed: 40 knots (46 mph; 74 km/h)
Complement: 13

The Gay class were a class of twelve fast patrol boats that served with the Royal Navy from the early 1950s. All were named after types of soldiers or military or related figures, prefixed with 'Gay'. The class could be fitted as either motor gun boats or motor torpedo boats, depending on the type of armament they carried.


They were developments of the MTB 538/539 class that had served during the Second World War, and were intended to be an interim measure until the diesel-powered Dark-class fast patrol boats could be introduced.[1][2] The vessels were to be powered by three V12 Packard 4M-2500 engines, each providing 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW) and a speed of 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph).[1][2] The Gays were the last petrol powered warships to be built for the Royal Navy.[1] Those fitted as Motor Torpedo Boats received two 40-millimetre (1.6 in) guns and two 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes, while those classified as Motor Gun Boats received a single 4.5 in (114 mm) gun and a 40 mm gun.[1]


The class was ordered between February and May 1951 from a number of shipyards across Britain, many of whom had built similar ships for the navy during the Second World War.[1] Four were built by Vosper & Company, two by Thornycroft, two by Morgan Giles, of Teignmouth, two by Taylor, of Chertsey and two by McGruer & Co Ltd, of Clynder.[3] They were launched between 1952 and 1954, with the last of the class, <i>Gay Forester</i>, being launched in March 1954.[3]


Most of the vessels served for a decade before being retired and sold off, though the longest-lived, <i>Gay Charioteer</i>, was only sold off in 1971, after nearly 20 years in service.[3] She had been a High Speed Target Towing vessel at HMNB Devonport since 1959, until being put into reserve in 1964.[2] HMS Gay Charger was commanded by Nigel Lawson during his National Service. <i>Gay Dragoon</i> appeared as 1087 in The Ship That Died of Shame, a film based on a book by Nicholas Monsarrat and starring Richard Attenborough.[1][2] <i>Gay Fencer</i> became a target vessel and was sunk off Portland in 1968, while Gay Archer was damaged while being delivered to the Navy, and then damaged when a vessel she was moored next to exploded. She then struck a submerged boom and nearly sank off Southsea Pier. She was sold out of the navy in 1963, but survived to be restored as the only remaining member of her class.[2][4]


Name Pennant Builder Launched Fate
Gay Archer P1041 Vosper 20 August 1952 Sold on 24 July 1963
Gay Bombardier P1042 Vosper 28 August 1952 Sold on 26 July 1963
<i>Gay Bowman</i> P1043 Vosper 6 November 1952 Sold on 24 July 1963
Gay Bruiser P1044 Vosper 19 December 1952 Sold on 31 January 1962
<i>Gay Caribineer</i> P1045 Thornycroft 22 January 1953 Sold on 31 July 1963
<i>Gay Cavalier</i> P1046 Taylor 23 January 1953 Sold on 25 July 1963
<i>Gay Centurion</i> P1047 Thornycroft 3 September 1952 Sold on 31 January 1962
<i>Gay Charger</i> P1048 Morgan Giles 12 January 1953 Sold in January 1967
<i>Gay Charioteer</i> P1049 Morgan Giles 12 June 1953 For disposal on 14 November 1971
<i>Gay Dragoon</i> P1050 Taylor 28 January 1953 Sold on 31 January 1962
<i>Gay Fencer</i> P1051 McGruer & Co Ltd 18 February 1953 Sunk on 10 April 1968
<i>Gay Forester</i> P1052 McGruer & Co Ltd 23 March 1954 Sold on 31 January 1962

During the Second World War the Royal Navy also sailed HMS Gay Viking and HMS Gay Corsair, a pair of motor gun boats. These were superficially similar to the later Gay-class, although their primary armament was a mixture of QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss, Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, and depth charges. Both had left service by the top of the Gay-class' introduction.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Olver, Jeremy (19 February 2001). "Gay Class Fast Attack Craft". Royal Navy Postwar. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gay Class Boats". British Military Powerboat Trust. 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 139.
  4. ^ "Gay Archer (1980)". Register of National Historic Vessels. 2009. Archived from the original on 9 January 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2009.


This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 08:11
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