Allied Warships

HMS Hecla (i) (F 20)

Destroyer Depot Ship of the Hecla class

Photo from Imperial War Museum (IWM), FL-22892

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer Depot Ship
PennantF 20 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Laid down23 Jan 1939 
Launched14 Mar 1940 
Commissioned6 Jan 1941 
Lost12 Nov 1942 
Loss position35° 43'N, 9° 54'W

In 1941 HMS Hecla was based at Hvalfjord, Iceland, she tended the captured German U-boat U-570 until the boat was towed to UK and renamed HMS Graph. On 16 April 1942 the German minelayer Doggerbank laid 80 EMC mines in 5 sections off Cape Agulhas. On May 15th whilst on passage eastward to join the Far Eastern Fleet she struck a mine in one of these sectors, Hecla was seriously damaged, but managed to reach Simonstown towed by the cruiser HMS Gambia, and the South African Naval Forces two minesweepers Southern Barrier and Terje who swept ahead of the escort. On immediate arrival she was placed in the Selborne dry dock. June was spent in the Selborne dry dock affecting repairs to the underwater damage. The explosion had occurred under her huge workshops and storerooms. Dozens of torpedoes and mines were scattered and destroyed, but fortunately none exploded. A total of 24 men lost their lives, and 112 were wounded. The dead were buried in False Bay Simonstown. July was spent conducting trials in False Bay. August - September, was again spent in the dry dock, later during September she was declared operational. On November 12th, during the Allied landings in North Africa, HMS Hecla (A/Capt. George Vivian Barnett Faulkner, RN) was torpedoed just after midnight by U-515 and sunk west of Gibraltar in position 35º43'N, 09º54'W. The escorting destroyer HMS Marne was also torpedoed whilst attempting to rescue the survivors, and the destroyer had to be towed to Gibraltar. The destroyer HMS Venomous succeeded in rescuing more survivors from Hecla and landed them at Casablanca. In all 279 off her crew went down with the ship and 568 men were rescued.


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 12 Nov 1942 by U-515 (Henke).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Hecla (i)

Commands listed for HMS Hecla (i) (F 20)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Commodore 2nd cl. Cyril George Bucknill Coltart, RN30 Sep 1940early 1942
2Cdr. Percy James Oliver, RNearly 19422 Apr 1942
3A/Cdr. John Rochfort D'Oyly, RN2 Apr 19426 Apr 1942
4Capt. Edward Francis Bold Law, RN6 Apr 194221 Aug 1942
5A/Cdr. John Rochfort D'Oyly, RN21 Aug 19422 Nov 1942
6A/Capt. George Vivian Barnett Faulkner, RN2 Nov 194212 Nov 1942

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Notable events involving Hecla (i) include:

15 May 1942
HMS Hecla (Capt. E.F.B. Law, RN) was mined off Cape town, South Africa. She was towed to Simonstown for 18 weeks of repairs.

18 Aug 1942
HMS Hecla (Capt. E.F.B. Law, RN) is undocked at the Simonstown Dockyard. (1)

21 Sep 1942
HMS Hecla (A/Cdr. J.R. D'Oyly, RN) is docked at the Simonstown Dockyard. She was undocked again later the same day. (2)

12 Nov 1942
At 00.15 hours on 12 November 1942 German U-boat U-515 fired a spread of four torpedoes at the British destroyer tender HMS Hecla which was misidentified as a Birmingham class light cruiser and hit her in the engine room. Two torpedoes were surface-runners and the last also malfunctioned and was a circle-runner. The U-boat then hit the ship with three coups de gr?ce at 01.28, 01.49 and 02.06 hours, sinking the vessel. At 02.11 hours, U-515 fired two torpedoes and badly damaged the escorting HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSO, DSC, RN)


  1. ADM 53/115563
  2. ADM 53/115564

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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