Another ‘Welsh’ Warship?

Britannia’s Dragon includes accounts of the warships that have borne ‘Welsh’ names – that is, those which have been named after either Welsh places or people. Despite trawling the various standard sources, such as J J Colledge’s Ships of the Royal Navy and Rif Winfield’s superb series of books, I knew that I was bound to have omitted some names that probably should have been included. A recent conversation with a former naval officer who had served on the survey ship HMS Waterwitch when she was based at Pembroke Dock for two years in the mid-1970s reminded me about one such case, namely HMS Owen, a converted Bay-class frigate which served as a survey vessel from 1949 to 1965. She was named after William Fitzwilliam Owen, an eminent naval hydrographer of the 19th century who was noted especially for his work on the coast of Africa. Although not born in Wales, Owen was the son of Captain William Owen of Glansevern, near Welshpool, and was schooled in part in north Wales, although he spent much of his life in New Brunswick, Canada, where his father had established a settlement. So HMS Owen certainly deserves at least a footnote in a history of British warships with ‘Welsh’ names, and a very detailed account of her service career can be read here.

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