Yesterday Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon unveiled the name of one of the new Type 26 frigates as HMS Belfast during a trip to Northern Ireland. But over the years there have been some interesting choices.
HMS Black Joke – The vessel’s colourful history ranges from starting out as a Brazilian slave ship, to being captured, and then re-cast by the Royal Navy as an anti-slave ship, thus earning her name. The West Africa Squadron then employed her to chase down slave ships and free all those enchained onboard. The ship’s fate was sealed after it’s timber was judged to be rotten by the Admiralty, all that now remains of the famous slave-chaser is an envelope filled with brown dust in The National Archives.
HMS Cockchafer – The unfortunately named Cockchafer was an Insect Class gunship launched in 1915 and hulked after serving during the Second World War in 1947.
HMS Little Belt – ‘Lillebælt’ was a Danish 22-gun warship launched in 1801. The Danes surrendered her to the Royal Navy in 1807 and she became the 20-gun post ship HMS Little Belt.
HMS Pansy (HMS Heartsease) – Was a Flower Class Corvette built during the Second World War for convoy escort. The name was changed to HMS Heartsease shortly before commissioning as legend tells the sailors were close to mutiny at the thought of having Pansy adorned across their caps. Who can blame them.
HMS Spanker – The Algerine Class Minesweeper was launched in 1943 and served throughout the Second World War. Despite her namesake’s lewd connotations, the crew, unlike Pansy’s, stayed the course and learnt to love the Spanker.