Dark class fast patrol boat
The Dark class, or Admiralty "Type A", were a class of eighteen fast patrol boats
Patrol boat
A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties.There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine and/or estuarine or river environments...

 that served with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 starting in 1954. All were named with a prefix of 'Dark'. The class could be fitted as either motor gun boat
Motor Gun Boat
Motor Gun Boat was a Royal Navy term for a small military vessel of the Second World War. They were physically similar to the Motor Torpedo Boats but equipped with a mix of guns instead of torpedoes. Their small size and high speed made them difficult targets for E-boats or torpedo bombers, but...

s or motor torpedo boat
Motor Torpedo Boat
Motor Torpedo Boat was the name given to fast torpedo boats by the Royal Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy.The capitalised term is generally used for the Royal Navy boats and abbreviated to "MTB"...

s, depending on the type of armament carried. They were the only diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

d fast patrol boats in the Royal Navy. The class was fitted (along with the Nasty
Tjeld class patrol boat
The Tjeld class were a class of fast patrol boats designed in Norway. They were used as torpedo boats in Norway where this type of vessel were called MTBs or motor torpedo boats . The class was also known as the Nasty class....

 class) with the Napier Deltic
Napier Deltic
The Napier Deltic engine is a British opposed-piston valveless, two-stroke diesel engine used in marine and locomotive applications, designed and produced by Napier & Son...

 two-stroke diesel engine. This was of unique layout, an opposed-piston engine with a triangular layout of three banks, 18 cylinders in total.


The boats were made of alloy
Aluminium alloy
Aluminium alloys are alloys in which aluminium is the predominant metal. The typical alloying elements are copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon and zinc. There are two principal classifications, namely casting alloys and wrought alloys, both of which are further subdivided into the categories...

 framing with wooden decks and skin. The exception was Dark Scout which had all aluminium decks, skins and frames. Originally 27 units were ordered by the admiralty from seven builders. Nine were eventually cancelled in 1955, including Dark Horseman which at the time was partially completed and on the stocks in the builders yard.

The all-aluminium version was exported to Burma (five units), Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 (two units), and Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 (one unit) by builders Saunders-Roe.


Having not used diesel engines on a boat of this type before, it wasn't known during construction just how dirty the boats would get because of the exhaust fumes. Originally launched in the normal Royal Navy grey, they eventually had to have their hulls painted completely black in order to cover up the staining by the emissions from the exhaust. However for a short while they tested a half grey/half black combination.


An Admiralty decision in 1957 took nearly all fast patrol boats out of commission, with nine of the new Dark-class to be laid up. On 20 December 1960, the Admiralty state that the Coastal Forces would not be completely abandoned in case it needed to be expanded in the future. A special boat squadron was nominated, however it did not include any of the Dark-class.

Several of the ships were sold to Wessex Power Units for sale onto the Italian Customs Service in February 1966. Two were used for target practice, with Dark Gladiator sunk by HMS Amazon
HMS Amazon (F169)
HMS Amazon was the first Type 21 frigate of the Royal Navy. Her keel was laid down at the Vosper Thornycroft shipyard in Southampton, England...

 and HMS Naiad
HMS Naiad (F39)
HMS Naiad was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy . Like the rest of the class, Naiad was named after a figure or figures of mythology, in this case the Naiads of Greek mythology. Naiad was built by Yarrow Shipbuilders of Scotstoun...

 off Portland in December 1975. At least two, Dark Clipper and Dark Fighter, managed to survive up to as recently as June 2001 when they were broken up in Malta.


The Dark-class would be the final commission of this quantity for patrol boats of this size and speed. The following classes had greatly reduced numbers with the Brave-class
Brave class fast patrol boat
The Brave fast patrol boats were a class of patrol boats that were the last of their type for the Royal Navy Coastal Forces division.They followed the Bold class, which were a pair of experimental turbojet powered boats...

 numbering only two vessels and Scimitar-class numbering only three.

A similar hull design was used by Saunders-Roe in a prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

, the R-103, which led to the development of the experimental hydrofoil
A hydrofoil is a foil which operates in water. They are similar in appearance and purpose to airfoils.Hydrofoils can be artificial, such as the rudder or keel on a boat, the diving planes on a submarine, a surfboard fin, or occur naturally, as with fish fins, the flippers of aquatic mammals, the...

, HMCS Bras d'Or (FHE 400)
HMCS Bras d'Or (FHE 400)
HMCS Bras d'Or was a hydrofoil that served in the Canadian Forces from 1968 to 1971. During sea trials in 1969, the vessel exceeded , making her the fastest unarmed warship in the world....

, for the Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...



 Operator   Name   Pennant   Builder   Launched   Fate 
P1101 Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe Limited was a British aero- and marine-engineering company based at Columbine Works East Cowes, Isle of Wight.-History:The name was adopted in 1929 after Alliot Verdon Roe and John Lord took a controlling interest in the boat-builders S.E. Saunders...

28 October 1954 Sold January 1970
P1102 Saunders-Roe 9 December 1954 Sold on 3 October 1961
P1103 Saunders-Roe 11 December 1954 Sold February 1966
P1105 Saunders-Roe 6 September 1955 Sold February 1966
P1104 Saunders-Roe 23 June 1955 Sold February 1966
P1108 Vosper & Company
Vosper & Company
Vosper & Company, often referred to simply as Vospers, was a British shipbuilding company based in Portsmouth, England.-History:The Company was established in 1871 by Herbert Edward Vosper, concentrating on ship repair and refitting work....

30 September 1954 Sold February 1966
P1109 Vosper & Company 9 February 1955 Sold on 16 March 1967
Broken up June 2001
P1113 Taylor (Chertsey) 4 October 1955 Sold on 16 March 1967
Broken up June 2001
P1114 Taylor (Chertsey) 5 December 1956 Used as target and sunk December 1975
P1115 McGruer (Clynder) 16 March 1957 Used as target 1977
Sold 1985
P1110 Vosper & Company 29 March 1955 Sold on 16 March 1967
P1116 Miller (St. Monance) 18 March 1954 Sold on 13 April 1962
P1112 Thornycroft
John I. Thornycroft & Company
John I. Thornycroft & Company Limited, usually known simply as Thornycroft was a British shipbuilding firm started by John Isaac Thornycroft in the 19th century.-History:...

16 May 1957 Sold February 1966
P1118 Morgan Giles (Teignmouth) 6 July 1955 Sold February 1966
P1119 Morgan Giles (Teignmouth) 6 September 1955 Sold February 1966
P1111 Thornycroft 26 September 1956 Sold February 1966
P1107 Vosper & Company 30 August 1954 Sold February 1966
P1116 Saunders-Roe 20 March 1958 Sold on 2 July 1961
T201 Saunders-Roe
T202 Saunders-Roe
T203 Saunders-Roe
T204 Saunders-Roe
T205 Saunders-Roe
Vasama I Saunders-Roe
Vasama II Saunders-Roe
PT9 Saunders-Roe

Cancelled ships

 Operator   Name   Builder 
Vosper & Company
Vosper & Company
Vosper & Company
McGruer (Clynder)
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