Valerian HMS

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Valerian HMS

Post by shipstamps » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:01 pm

Built under the Emergency War Programme HMS Valerian was launched in 1916. A Flower Class Sloop of 1250 tons, this Class were specifically built as Minesweepers and were constructed with triple spaced hulls at the bow to give extra protection when mine hunting. Those that survived the War were converted to Convoy protection sloops until the late 1920's.A frequent visitor to Barbados in the 1920's HMS Valerian sank when hit by a hurri¬cane en-route to Bermuda in 1926 with the loss of 86 of the crew of 115.

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Re: Valerian HMS

Post by aukepalmhof » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:46 pm

Built as a British sloop by C.Rennoldson for the Royal Navy.
21 Feb. 1916, launched under the name HMS VALERIAN. One of the Arabis class.
Displacement 1.250 ton, dim. 257.7 x 33.5 x 11.7 ft.
Powered by a triple expansion steamengine, 2.000 ihp. One propeller, speed 17 knots.
Armament 2 – 4.7 inch, 2 – 3 pdrs. guns. Carried and could launch some depth-charges.
Crew 106.

From the end of the American War of Independence till 1953, the Somers Isles (Bermuda) occupied a position of some prominence in the structure of Imperial defence, and specifically in the ability of the Royal Navy to protect its might across the Atlantic. Roughly 800 miles from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and 1.100 miles from Miami, Florida, and the Bahamas, the colony allowed not only control of the Eastward Sea Lanes to Europe, but also the dominance of the Eastern seaboard of North America. This was to be one of the primary causes of the War of 1812.
By the Royal navy had largely relocated from its early facilities in Saint George’s to Ireland Island at the opposite end of the colony. This island had been purchased by the Admiralty with the specific intent of creating a full naval dockyard, a base and headquarters for the North American and west Indies fleet, allowing full repairs to be carried out on naval ships without necessitating their return to Britain (and, it was from here that the British assault on Washington D.C. was launched that drove the US Government from that city in the War of 1812, and which left as legacy the re-dubbing of the US presidential mansion as the Whitehouse after it was painted to cover up the scorch marks from having been fired.)
Late in the summer of 1926, a hurricane wrought great damage on the colony of the Bahamas (a colony that had been founded by the Somers Isles, centuries before). As the naval headquarters for the Americas, the HM Dockyard at Ireland Island dispatched a sloop a minor vessel from its fleet-to render what aid it could.

The sloop sent to the Bahamas aid was HMS VALERIAN. An Arabis type of the Flower class built during the Great War, she was under the command of Commander W.A. Usher, with a complement of more than a hundred men. On the 18th October 1926 having rendered what aid she could, she put to sea from Nassau to return to her base in the Somers Isles. Due to a shortage of coal in the Bahamas, she began the voyage with little more than what she needed to complete the 1.000-mile journey. This left her relatively light in the water with a detrimental effect on the stability.
A day after she began her voyage, the VALERIAN received reports from the US weather service that a tropical storm was forming to the South East of Puerto Rico. This initially moved North and seemed no threat, but soon began curving to the North East to follow the VALERIAN home. Despite the late date, the storm quickly grew far more powerful than the weather forecasters had predicted. The VALERIAN unaware of the true strength or speed of the storm still raced for home, not wanting to be caught at sea in so light a condition and lacking the coal to fight the weather for long if she were.

She very nearly made it. By 08.00 hours on the morning of the 28 October she radioed the Dockyard that she was hove to eight miles from Gibbs Hill light to the South West of the Colony. At that time, Cdr. Usher would report there was no sign of the approach of a large storm, and he anticipated no difficulty making Timlin’s Narrows- the channel, a handful of miles to the East, which provides the sole access through the isles enclosing reefs. Inside the reefs, the vessel would be protected from the worst the sea had to offer. This was the last message ever received from the VALERIAN.
Only when the few survivors were plucked from the water the following day would the extent of its tragedy be known, but on that day the Dockyard establishment and the crews of its vessels, caught in and out port, had all they could do to worry about themselves. The VALERIAN would be forgotten as the winds rose, by noon to 125 mph as the storm drove in at unprecedented speed of 700 miles a day.
The army, who provided the civil forecast from their central camp. Prospect Camp, in Devonshire, took down their anemometer at noon to prevent its being destroyed.
At the Dockyard the Navy was more concerned with saving its ships as the cruiser HMS CALCUTTA was ripped from its berth on the Southern Dock and swung bow to the wind. Multiplying the bowlines holding her to the dock, the crew leapt to the end of the North breakwater against which the stern had struck. Several lines were used to fasten it there, but the engines had still to be run full ahead to keep her from being driven back into the Sound and to her destructions. The Dockyard’s anemometer was destroyed at 13.00 as the winds reached 138 mph.- as at the same time the VALERIAN was finally succumbing to the wind and waves.

The loss of HMS VALERIAN.

On Thursday 21 October 1926 the VALERIAN was about 200 miles from Bermuda, steaming on one boiler with a speed of 9.5 knots. At midnight steam was raised in boiler no 2 and speed increased to 11.5 knots. At 08.00 a.m. on Friday the 22nd the VALERIAN was five miles from Gibbs Hill, Bermuda, with no indication of stormy weather. Shortly after this a hurricane of a estimated force of 136 miles per hour swept over the area and the engines of the sloop proved altogether too feeble to maintain her steerage way. Her engines stopped and a succession of squalls laid her over until her funnels became submerged, the water flooding down and exploding the boilers, after which she sank.
Cdr. Usher went down on the bridge, receiving a blow on the head, but eventually coming to the surface near one of the rafts was pulled on board and saved.

At 10.00 the next day 19 men were picked from the water by the cruiser HMS CAPETOWN, which had ridden the storm out safely at sea. The CAPETOWN had actually begun a search for the VALERIAN the previous day, but had been called away by the SOS of the steamer EASTWAY of the St Mary Steamship Co. built 1915, which was lost on the same day with 22 men, 11 men surveyed who were picked up by the LUCILINE the next day.
The loss from the VALERIAN was 4 officers and 84 men.

Bermuda 1988 60c sg569, scott544
Barbados $1.15

Sources: copied from
Dictionary of Disasters at Sea by Charles Hocking.

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