HMS Cossack (F03)

HMS Cossack (F03)

HMS "Cossack" (L03/F03/G03) was a Tribal-class destroyer which became famous for the boarding of the German supply ship "Altmark" in Norwegian waters, and the associated rescue of sailors originally captured by the "Admiral Graf Spee".

"Cossack" was laid down at the High Walker Yard of Vickers-Armstrongs at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 9 June 1936, launched on 8 June 1937 by Mrs. S. V. Goodall, commissioned on 7 June 1938 and completed on 14 June 1938.

"Cossack's" first action was on 16 February 1940. This was the Altmark Incident in Jøssingfjord, Norway which resulted in the freeing of the "Admiral Graf Spee"'s prisoners who were being held aboard the supply ship "Altmark" and the death of seven members of the crew of the "Altmark". "Cossack" arrived at Leith on 17 February with the 299 freed prisoners. ["The Times (London)", Monday, 19 February 1940, p.10] The Norwegian Government subsequently protested at the "Cossack's" breach of Norways neutrality and demanded the return of the prisoners, with the German Government further protesting at the act of violence committed against the "Altmark"."The Times (London)", Monday, 19 February 1940, p.8]

Shortly afterwards "Cossack" participated in the Second Battle of Narvik in (April 1940). In late 1940, she was part of the force which was assigned to hunt for a German surface raider that had been reported as breaking out into the North Atlantic. The force consisted of the battlecruiser HMS "Hood", light cruiser "Edinburgh", and destroyers HMS "Electra", "Echo", "Escapade", and "Cossack". The report turned out to have been false, and after spending a week at sea, including Christmas Day, she returned to port on New Years Eve.

In May 1941, she participated in the pursuit and destruction of the "Bismarck". While escorting Convoy WS-8B to the Middle East, "Cossack" and 4 other destroyers broke off on 26 May, and headed towards the area where "Bismarck" had been reported. They found her that evening, and made several torpedo attacks in the evening and into the next morning. No hits were scored, but they kept her gunners from getting any sleep, making it easier for the battleships to attack her the next morning.

On 24 October 1941, "Cossack" was escorting a convoy from Gibraltar to the United Kingdom when she was struck by a single torpedo fired by the German submarine "U-563". She was taken in tow by a tug from Gibraltar on 25 October, but the weather worsened and the tow was slipped on 26 October. "Cossack" sank in the Atlantic west of Gibraltar on 27 October 1941. 159 of her crew were lost.

HMS "Cossack" was named after the Cossack people who lived in the steppes of Ukraine and Southern Russia.

References


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