Just prior to WW2, it became apparent that German U-boats would present a serious threat to British transatlantic shipping in the event of an outbreak of hostilities. Realizing this, it became clear to the Royal Navy that they needed a large number of new small vessels that could cope with this threat, whilst being cheap, simple and quick to produce, without hindering the construction of larger warships.
In response to the demand, the Smiths Dock Company proposed a modified version of one of their 700-ton whale catchers. The proposed ship virtually met all Royal Navy requirements and could even be built by smaller shipyards across the country, meaning that a large-scale production wouldn’t affect the construction of larger warships. The proposed design was accepted and the first orders for Flower-class corvettes came in as early as July 1939.
Although initially only intended to operate along the British coast line, the large range and robust seaworthiness of the Flower-class corvettes soon saw ships of this class escorting Atlantic convoys to and from Great Britain. Their primary role was to fend off submarines, which is why ships of this class were relatively lightly armed and often specialized in anti-submarine warfare.
Apart from Great Britain, Flower-class corvettes were used extensively in various different roles by numerous other nations during WW2, including the United States, France, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands and many more. Ships of this class served right up until the end of WW2, even when more advanced designs began to replace them.
Whilst Spitfires and Hurricanes kept the Luftwaffe out of British skies, the venerable Flower-class corvettes ensured that vital supplies reached Great Britain, by fighting off the German submarine wolf-packs throughout the war. With over 260 ships built, the Flower-class corvette remains one of Britain’s most mass-produced wartime ship type, whose contribution to the war effort is highly obvious.