In 1935 Polish Navy bought two ships in JS shipyard in Cowes. Their names were ORP Blyskawica and ORP Grom (Lightning and Thunder). Those days they were fastest and destroyers of the world. They also were the most heavily armed in the world for that class. Both ships could also take another missions like submarine chasers.

ORP-Błyskawica

 

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During the war Three Polish destroyers joined British Navy (third one was ORP Burza). On 7th September 1939 Blyskawica made contact with German U-boot, which was possibly first combat contact between allied and German fleets. Blyskawica came back to Cowes on Isle of Wight and crew was billeted out in the town.

Next year Blyskawica took part in Norway campaign and was involved in evacuation from Dunkirk.

The most famous episode from ship’s history is defence on Ilse of Wight during their stay at night bombing from 4th to 5th May 1942. Two ways of 160 German bombers attacked town. Smoke curtain created by ship  over the Cowes and furious fire dramatically reduced effectiveness of this raid. Guns on the ship were red hot and had to be constantly cooled down with sea water delivered in the buckets.

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Blyskawica took part in many battles during the war. Last activity directly after war was sinking over 100 u-boots on water between Scotland and Ireland.

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In total during the War Blyskawica escorted 83 convoys, damaged 3 U-boots, shoot down at least four aircrafts and help to sink other ships.

After war Blyskawica returned to Communistic Poland and was converted to antiaircraft ship and then to a training wessel . From 1 May 1976 Blyskawica is museum. Today ORP Blyskawica is the oldest preserved destroyer in the world. It’s excellent condition gave her many awards including International Maritime Heritage Award of the World Ship Trust(given also to HMS Victory or Swedish Wasa).

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