10 July 2023






3 mins

A total of 27 Dark Class Fast Attack Craft were ordered for the Royal Navy between December 1951 and January 1952 , but only 18 were completed, the remainder being cancelled in 1955.

Fitted with 2 shaft Napier Deltic 16 cylinder diesels, the Dark Class were the first diesel engined fast patrol boats, the earlier Gay Class Fast Patrol Boats had been the Navy’s last petrol powered warships  and could achieve speeds of 40 knots.


Section drawing from the drive end of a Deltic engine. The air chamber surrounds the intake end of the cylinder, and the exhaust manifolds are mounted to the outer sides of the engine. Note the rotation of the crankshafts. (Napier/NPHT/IMechE image)

The Dark Class had a standard displacement of 50 tons and a deep load displacement of 64 tons. They measured 71ft 8″ in length, 19ft 5″ in beam and 6ft 1″ in draught and had a complement of 15. The hull was a wooden skin built around an alloy framework, except for Dark Scout which was all aluminium. They were frequently painted all back because the exhaust was found to be dirty.

HMS DARK CLIPPER P 1109 at the former Royal Navy Benghajsa Transmitting Station.

They could be configured either as MTBs or MGBs: as torpedo boats they were armed with a single 40mm gun and four 21-inch torpedoes whilst as gun boats they carried a single 4.5-inch gun and one 40mm gun.

HMS DARK FIGHTER P 1113 at the former Royal Navy Benghajsa Transmitting Station.

Class Details

Craft Pennant Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned
Dark Adventurer P1101 Saunders-Roe (Beaumaris) October 28th 1954
Dark Aggressor P1102 Saunders-Roe (Beaumaris) December 9th 1954
Dark Antagonist P1103 Saunders-Roe (Beaumaris) December 11th 1954
Dark Avenger P1105 Saunders-Roe (Beaumaris) September 6th 1955
Dark Biter P1104 Saunders-Roe (Beaumaris) June 23rd 1955
Dark Buccaneer P1108 Vosper (Porchester) September 30th 1954
Dark Clipper P1109 Vosper (Porchester) February 9th 1955
Dark Fighter P1113 Taylor (Chertsey) October 4th 1955
Dark Gladiator P1114 Taylor (Chertsey) December 5th 1956
Dark Hero P1115 McGruer (Clynder) March 16th 1957
Dark Highwayman P1110 Vosper (Porchester) March 29th 1955
Dark Hunter P1116 Miller (St. Monance) March 18th 1954
Dark Hussar P1112 Thorneycroft (Hampton) May 16th 1957
Dark Intruder P1118 Morgan Giles (Teignmouth) July 6th 1955
Dark Invader P1119 Morgan Giles (Teignmouth) September 5th 1955
Dark Killer P1111 Thorneycroft (Hampton) September 26th 1956
Dark Rover P1107 Vosper (Porchester) August 30th 1954
Dark Scout P1120 Saunders-Roe (Beaumaris) March 20th 1958
Cancelled 1955

Craft History

Dark Scout was the only Dark Class vessel with an aluminium hull, as opposed to a wooden skin on a an alloy framework.
Dark Gladiator  – Towards the end of her service year she was based at Portland with Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST). She was sometimes employed as a Search and Rescue night boat for HMS Osprey and was occasionally used as a trials ship for the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment. Sunk off Dorset in 56 metres of water.
HMS DARK CLIPPER P 1109 and HMS DARK FIGHTER P 1113 were paid of and disposed of in Malta. Apparently they were then used in the making of a film – The Hellboats –


Later they spent a large number of years laid up at RAF Kalafana which was also a seaplane base, changing over to a Royal Naval Aircraft Repair Yard.

As the former seaplane base was developed into a container terminal now called the Malta Freeport, the Dark class boats were moved up the road to the former Transmitting station.

Both Dark class vessels were broken up in June 2001.

All Photographs with others in archives are AGAINST PAYMENT so feel free to email us with your requirements.

Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli otherwise stated. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission.
© All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –