13 odd names for Royal Navy ships

HMS Spanker

HMS Spanker

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From Invincible to Victory, ships of the Royal Navy have carried some of the proudest names imaginable.

But in amongst them are others that have slightly odder titles.

Here from our files and with help from information posted on forcesreunited.co.uk are some of the stranger names given to ships.

1. HMS Bat

One of the shortest names ever assigned to a ship, ironically she operated before the days of radar, the animal equivalent of which is a feature of the flying mammals after which she was named. Built at the end of the 1800s she became the first destroyer in the Royal Navy to receive a torpedo fitted for a gyroscope and was broken up after the First World War.

2. HMS Beaver

HMS Beaver was commissioned in December 1984. Her name might have raised a few eyebrows but at least it gave the Royal Navy a chance to offer honorary crew membership to any Beaver Scout who cared to apply. She was decommissioned in 1999.

3. HMS Bittersweet

We guess that like any warship, she had her good times and her bad times. The Flower Class Corvette built during the Second World War served mainly with the Royal Canadian Navy on convoy escort in the Atlantic.

4. HMS Black Joke

This bizarre name was given to an anti slave trade vessel, captured by the Royal Navy from Brazil. Detail on forcesreunited.co.uk says that after commissioning into the Royal Navy, she went on to capture 13 slave vessels and free over 4080 slaves.

5. HMS Broke

We’ve had our fair share of defence spending cuts over the years, but this is the only time the Royal Navy has actually gone Broke. The third and last ship to bear the name was a Second World War Shakespeare Class Destroyer, She was sunk by gunfire on November 8 1942 during Operation Terminal after landing troops onto a pier at Algiers.

6. HMS Camel

It’s called ‘the ship of the desert’ so perhaps it’s appropriate that seven Royal Navy vessels have borne the name HMS Camel. It’s a name that has fallen out of favour though - the last HMS Camel was an Albacore-class wooden screw gunboat launched in 1856 and broken up in 1864.

7. HMS Cheerful

Every captain strives to keep his crew happy, and we guess the commanding officer of HMS Cheerful had a head start on most. Four vessels have had the name, the last a Algerine-class minesweeper launched towards the end of the Second World War and broken up in 1963.

8. HMS Cockchafer

We kid you not! Four naval ships have borne this name, the latest an Insect Class gunship launched in 1915 and which remained in the fleet until after the Second World War.

9. HMS Dainty

Her name hardly had a derring-do ring to it, but the Daring Class destroyer launched in the 1950s was undoubtedly a mighty ship albeit that she didn’t quite match the names of sister ships such as Daring, Defender and Diamond. She served for 20 years before being sold for scrap.

10. HMS Gadfly

We’ve no reports of mutinous behaviour on ships of this name, even though the title matches that of a person who annoys or criticizes others in order to provoke them into action. There have been four - the last a Fly-class gunboat launched in 1915.

11. HMS Griper

Sailors never moan about their lot, of course, though perhaps those on HMS Griper might have felt they’d been given the green light to do so. Six vessels have borne the name, the last a rescue tug that operated during the Second World War.

12. HMS Pansy

A Flower Class Corvette built during the Second World War for convoy escort, she never actually sailed under the somewhat effeminate name. She was retitled HMS Heartsease shortly before she was commissioned, her crew having reportedly protested vigorously at the original name.

13. HMS Spanker

We have no idea who devised this name for the Algerine Class Minesweeper launched in 1943 or indeed what sort of punishment they received as a result.