ORP Jastrzab - originally an American submarine - came to the Polish Navy in World War 2 by way of the British Royal Navy.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: SS-25 in American livery used to represent ORP Jastrzab; Public Domain.
The first significant submarine class to be produced for the United States Navy (USN) was the Holland-type "S-class". Sixty-five boats were originally planned and fifty-one eventually completed - fourteen being cancelled. In the end forty-two of the group served long enough to see retirement while nine were lost. The last boats were retired in 1946. Construction of the class was managed from five different American shipyards.
USS S-25 was one of these Holland-type vessels and launched in 1922 (the "Interwar period"). By the time of World War 2 (1939-1945) she remained under USN ownership and set to become a training platform for future generations of submariners. However, a shortage of submarines by the British Royal Navy saw S-25 delivered to the American ally via Lend-Lease. As such she was decommissioned from USN service during November of 1941 and quickly arranged as HMS P551 in the Royal Navy. Her ownership changed hands once more as she was passed on to the Polish Navy to help bolster its inventory - once there she became ORP Jastrzab (translating to "Hawk").
ORP Jastrzab led a short service life with the Poles and was doomed - by friendly fire - on May 2nd, 1942. The vessel found itself in the vicinity of Allied convoy PQ-15 - either independently or as part of the convoy's defense (sources vary) - en route to Murmansk to deliver much-needed war supplies to the beleaguered Soviets. The crew of HNoMS St. Albans, a Norwegian destroyer, and HMS Seagull, a British minesweeper, mistakenly engaged ORP Jastrzab with depth charges and forced the damaged submarine to surface. Once there, she was raked by gunfire which claimed five of her crew and injured six more. Her damage was such that it led to her being abandoned by the Polish crew and scuttled.
As operated by the Polish Navy, ORP Jastrzab displaced 868 tons when surfaced and 1,080 tons when submerged. Her length was 219.2 feet with a beam of 20.7 feet, and a draught down to 15.10 feet. She could make headway at 14.5 knots when surfaced and 11 knots when submerged. The crew complement was 42 officers and seamen while armament centered on 4 x 21" torpedo tubes and 1 x 102mm (4") deck gun.
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