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HMS Evadne

HMS Evadne at Gibraltar.jpg
HMS Evadne at Gibraltar
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Evadne
Builder: Camper and Nicholsons Southampton[1]
Launched: September 1931[2]
Christened: Evadne
Completed: 1931
Commissioned: September 1939
Fate: Returned to civil use as a yacht
General characteristics [3][4][5]
Type: Armed yacht
Displacement: 581 tons
Length: 58.83 m (193 ft 0 in)
Beam: 8.08 m (26 ft 6 in)
Draught: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
Propulsion: Two 8cyl MAN 750 bhp (560kw) diesel engines
Speed: 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph)
Complement: 45

HMS Evadne was a converted yacht, commissioned as a warship by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She survives today as the yacht Marala.


With a shortage of warships at the start of the war, and the Battle of the Atlantic, the Royal Navy found itself in particular need of escort vessels to protect merchant shipping from commerce-raiding German U-Boats and surface raiders. Production of new vessels was increased in Britain and abroad, obsolete United States Navy destroyers would be obtained under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, and all manner of civil vessels would be adapted as naval vessels. This included fishing trawlers utilised as minesweepers, passenger liners such as HMS Jervis Bay and HMS Queen of Bermuda, both converted to armed merchant cruisers, and sundry other vessels.

The Evadne was a large motor yacht belonging to Richard Fairey, of Fairey Aviation, which built the Fleet Air Arm's Swordfish torpedo bomber, among other designs. Transferred to the Admiralty for the duration of hostilities, she was refitted in England as an anti-submarine vessel.

Service history

Irish Sea

[3] Before full conversion for anti-submarine warfare in early 1940, Evadne was only lightly armed, with depth charges dropped by hand. Based in Liverpool, during this time she carried out patrols and other duties in the Irish Sea. After conversion at the Grayson Rollo shipyard, and a few weeks providing an examination service at Holyhead, she escorted convoys in the Irish Sea, from bases at Holyhead, Milford Haven and Liverpool.


In July 1942 Evadne joined the Highlander escort group to escort a convoy across the Atlantic before breaking away to Bermuda, where she remained on anti-submarine duties at the Royal Naval Dockyard.[3][6]

The dockyard was the core of a naval base in Bermuda that included the North America and West Indies Squadron, an Admiralty House, and a Royal Naval Air Station. It had been placed in Bermuda following the American War of Independence as its location (about 1,030 kilometres (640 mi) off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, 1,239 kilometres (770 mi) south of Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and 1,770 kilometres (1,100 mi) northeast of Miami, Florida) made it a useful replacement for the continental bases lost with American independence. During both world wars, in addition to its other roles, Bermuda served as a forming-up point for trans-Atlantic convoys. Ships arrived singly, and collected into convoys within the safety of Bermuda's surrounding barrier reef.

During the Second World War, the convoys from Bermuda, coded (coded BHX) joined at sea with convoys originating at Halifax, Nova Scotia (coded HX), before crossing the Atlantic, it having been shown mathematically that - the area of a circle increasing disproportionately to its circumference as its radius is increased - it required relatively fewer warships to protect one large convoy than two smaller ones.

Although the convoys were provided with a Royal Naval escort, shortages of escort vessels early in the war meant this might be only a single warship, as with Convoy HX 84 (which included ships from Bermuda), escorted only by the Bermuda-based armed passenger liner HMS Jervis Bay, which was attacked by the Admiral Scheer in November, 1940.

Vessels arriving alone at Bermuda generally had no protection until they neared the archipelago where HMS Evadne patrolled the surrounding Atlantic, and also met and escorted arriving vessels to the channel through the reefs, where they were met by the converted tugboat, HMS Castle Harbour, crewed by local-service ratings, which brought the pilot (who steered the visiting ship through the reefs) and the naval examination officer tasked with inspecting arriving vessels. The Castle Harbour also carried out anti-submarine patrols within the reef (although the likelihood of anyone unfamiliar with the local waters navigating through the reef in a vessel of any size was unlikely, the events at Scapa Flow, on 14 October 1939, illustrated the dangers of complacency).

By 1943, the Battle of the Atlantic had been largely won by the Allies. Unites States forces had built two airbases in Bermuda and established a military garrison on Bermuda that dwarfed the British one, providing numerous coastal and anti-aircraft batteries and infantry and other military units. The British Government had placed a moratorium on the local Territorial Army units (the Bermuda Militia Artillery, Bermuda Militia Infantry, Bermuda Volunteer Engineers, and Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps) preventing them from sending contingents for service overseas after the June, 1940, contingent of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps to the Lincolnshire Regiment (with Bermuda Militia Artillery and Bermuda Volunteer Engineers personnel accompanying it and separating in England to join their parent corps, the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers). The senior United States officer in Bermuda was made superior to the British, and the Royal Navy's local Commander-in-Chief was reduced in status as control of the western Atlantic was ceded by Britain to the United States Navy. With the reduced threat from the German Kriegsmarine and the build-up of United States forces in Bermuda, British forces began to be re-deployed elsewhere. The moratorium on the local territorials was lifted and the Bermuda Militia Artillery and Bermuda Militia Infantry jointly formed a detached company-strength contingent to serve in Europe, while the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps did the same. The two contingents trained together at Prospect Camp before the Bermuda Militia contingent left to form the training cadre of the new Caribbean Regiment, which served in Italy, Egypt and Palestine, and the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps contingent joined the Lincolnshire Regiment for service in North-West Europe. The Royal Naval forces were also reduced. HMS Castle Harbour was ordered to the Mediterranean in 1942, but never reached it, being torpedoed by a German submarine on 16 October.


Although the United States Navy's USS Dynamic was assigned to patrolling the waters of Bermuda at the end of 1942, Evadne remained in Bermuda until also reallocated to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, arriving on 12 March 1944 in Gibraltar, where she was based until hostilities ended. [1]

On 19 February 1945, she badly damaged German U-boat U-300 with depth charges in the Strait of Gibraltar, in position 35°54′N 05°43′W / 35.900°N 5.717°W / 35.900; -5.717. The U-boat was subsequently sunk on 22 February in the North Atlantic west of Cadiz, in position 36°29′N 08°20′W / 36.483°N 8.333°W / 36.483; -8.333, by gunfire from the British minesweepers HMS Recruit and HMS Pincher. Nine of the 50 crew were lost.[2][7]

Yacht Marala in Venice in 2012

Evadne arrived back in Portsmouth on 6 September 1945 and was paid off the following month.[1]

Current role

Following the war, Evadne returned to civil life as a yacht. She operates today in the Mediterranean, under the name MY Marala, still with her original engines.[5]

In print

Captain Harold Taylor of the Royal Naval Reserve was first mate on Evadne when war broke out and continued to serve on her as First Lieutenant and later commanding officer. He wrote about his experiences in his book A Captain’s Tale.[3]

Commander Alex Cherry of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, an American volunteer, had joined the Evadne prior to the crossing to Bermuda, and served aboard her there before being transferred to other vessels. He recorded his time aboard her in his book, Yankee R.N.[6]

On film

The Evadne (now Marala) was the setting of the 2001 film The Cat's Meow, in which she represented William Randolph Hearst's yacht, the Oneida.


  1. ^ a b c Sharp, Nigel (15 October 2015). Troubled Waters: Leisure Boating and the Second World War. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781445651606.
  2. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "Armed Yacht HMS Evadne". "Allied Warships of WWII - Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Taylor, Harold (1984). A Captain's Tale. Lavenham, Suffolk: Terence Dalton Ltd. ISBN 0 86138 031 2.
  4. ^ "Evadne Yacht". Ltd. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Classic Cruiser Marala Seeks New Horizons". MegaYacht News. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b Yankee R.N., by Commander Alex H. Cherry, OBE, RNVR. Jarrold's Publishers (London) Ltd, Portland Street, London W1
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC/41 boat U-300". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 19 September 2017.