The Aubretia class sloops
were a class
of twelve sloops
built under the Emergency War Programme
for the Royal Navy
in World War I
as part of the larger "Flower" class
. They were also referred to as the "cabbage class", or "herbaceous borders
". The Flowers were the first ships designed as minesweepers
Like all the Flowers, the Aubretia class were originally designed as single-screw Fleet Sweeping Vessels, with triple hulls at the bows and an above-water magazine located aft, to give extra protection against loss from mine damage when working. However, the utility of the design was found to be as a convoy escort, and as such other classes took over the minesweeping role. The Aubretias were re-classified as Convoy Sloops.
Unlike the preceding "Flower"s of the Acacia, Azalea and Arabis classes, with their unmistakable warship appearance, the Aubretias were designed to look like small merchantmen, in the hope of deceiving U-boat commanders, a tactic known as the Q-ship. These vessels were built by commercial shipbuilders to Lloyd's Register standards, to make use of vacant capacity, and the individual builders were asked to use their existing designs for merchantmen, based on the standard Flower-type hull.
Six ships were ordered in January 1916:
- — built by Blyth Shipbuilding Company, Blyth, launched 17 June 1916. Sold 25 October 1922.
- — built by Greenock & Grangemouth Dockyard Company, Greenock, launched 16 June 1916. Sold for breaking up 16 February 1932.
- — built by Irvine's Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, West Harlepool, launched 16 June 1916. Sunk by German submarine U.94 off south-west Ireland 20 June 1917.
- — built by Lobnitz & Company, Renfrew, launched 2 June 1916. Sold for breaking up 17 October 1922.
- — built by Richardson, Duck & Company, Stockton-on-Tees, launched 15 July 1916. Sunk by German submarine U.62 in the Atlantic 30 April 1917.
- — built by Ropner & Sons, Stockton-on-Tees, launched 14 July 1916. Sold for breaking up 17 December 1922.
A further six ships were ordered in December 1916:
- — built by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Wallsend on Tyne, launched June 1917. Transferred to French Navy, later renamed Ville d'Ys.
- — built by Blyth Shipbuilding, launched 19 May 1917. Mined in the North Sea 22 March 1918.
- — built by Greenck and Grangemouth, launched 17 November 1917. Sold for breaking up 18 January 1923.
- — built by William Hamilton and Company, Port Glasgow, launched 21 August 1917. Transferred to Royal Indian Marine in September 1921, renamed Cornwallis; sold 1946.
- — built by Irvine's, launched 3 September 1917. Sold 25 January 1921, becoming mercantile Chihuahua (Clan Line).
- — built by Lobnitz, launched 24 September 1917. Sold 25 January 1921, becoming mercantile Colima (Clan Line).
- The Grand Fleet, Warship Design and Development 1906-1922, D. K. Brown, Chatham Publishing, 1999, ISBN 1-86176-099-X
- Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I, Janes Publishing, 1919