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ROYAL NAVY SOUTH ATLANTIC COMMAND - ROYAL NAVY N P Q R SHIPS

10)PRINCESS BEATRIX (LDG SHIP)



Photo. www.warshipsww2.eu



Completed: 1939 


Displacement: 4,135 tons 


Length: 380 ft


Beam: 47 ft 


Draught: 13,6 ft 


Propulsion: 2 × Sulzer diesel engines, 12,500 shp (9,321 kW)


Armament: As HMS "Princess Beatrix" : 2 × 12-pounder (76 mm) guns, 2 × 2-pounder (40 mm) machine guns, 4 × 20 mm Hotchkiss machine guns, 2 × .303 calibre machine guns


Speed: 24,5 kts


Complement: 58.


Princess Beatrix entered service on 3 July 1939, but after the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939, was withdrawn, and remained in port. On 10 May 1940 the Germans launched their invasion of the Netherlands, dropping mines in the Schelde estuary, and bombing and strafing shipping. Prinses Beatrix promptly fled, arriving at London on the 15th. Requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport chartered her as a troop transport on 17th the same month.


In late 1941 she was selected to join the forces gathered at Freetown, Sierra Leone, for "Operation Pilgrim", the planned occupation of the Canary Islands, if either the Spanish or the Germans captured Gibraltar. After maintenance at Glasgow Princess Beatrix sailed to Freetown, arriving on 5 October 1941. However, it soon became clear that Franco did not plan to join the Axis, nor was he prepared to allow the German troops free passage through Spain to attack Gibraltar, and the operation was cancelled.


On 4 November 1941 the British navy tanker RFA Olwen reported that she had been attacked by a German raider, between Natal, Brazil and Freetown. Princess Beatrix was one of the ships sent to search. No German raider was found and the Admiralty assumed that a German U-boat had shot at the tanker. However, on 22 November the German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis was sunk by the British cruiser Devonshire in the southern Atlantic close to Ascension Island, and on 1 December the cruiser Dorsetshire sank the German supply ship Python in the same area.


Almost all the crews from both ships were taken aboard German and Italian submarines. The British feared that the Germans would try to land on Ascension and overwhelm the tiny garrison. Princess Beatrix was hurriedly loaded with troops and set sail. However, while en route it was learned that the German crewmen were on their way to Bordeaux and the ship was recalled. On 14 February 1942 Princess Beatrix left Freetown, and returned to England for refitting, after which she was reclassified as a Landing Ship, Infantry (Medium.


 

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