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ORP Blyskawica

ORP Błyskawica in Gdynia
Laid down:September 1935
Launched:1 October 1936
Commissioned:25 November 1937
Fate:museum ship
Decommissioned:1 May 1976
General Characteristics
Displacement:1975 tons
Length:114 m (- ft)
Beam:11.3 m (- ft)
Draft:3.3 m (- ft)
Speed:39 knots
Armament:1937: seven 120 mm guns, 4 x 40 mm AA guns, MG's, 6 torpedo launchers
1941: eight 102 mm (4in) AA guns, 4 x 40 mm AA guns, 4 x 20 mm AA guns, 6 torpedo launchers

The ORP Błyskawica is a Polish destroyer, currently preserved as a museum ship in Gdynia.

She was the latter of two Grom-class destroyers, built for the Polish Navy by J. Samuel White, Cowes. The name means The Lightning. The two Groms were some of the most heavily-armed destroyers on the seas before World War II.

Two days before the war, on 30 August 1939, the Błyskawica was withdrawn, along with the Grom and the Burza destroyers, from the Baltic Sea to Great Britain to avoid their loss. Then, they acted in tandem with the Royal Navy's Home Fleet. On 7 September 1939 Błyskawica made contact with and attacked a U-Boat, resulting in possibly the first combat between the Allied and the German fleets.

In early May 1940 Błyskawica took part in the Norwegian Campaign, shelling German positions and downing two Luftwaffe aircraft. Her sister ship Grom was bombed and sunk during the campaign. Later that month, she took part in covering Operation Dynamo, the wildly-successful Franco-British evacuation from Dunkerque.

During the remainder of the war, the Błyskawica took part in convoy and patrol duties, engaging both U-boats and the Luftwaffe in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. In 1941 her 120-mm guns were replaced with British four-inch (102-mm) anti-aircraft guns. On 8 June 1944 the Błyskawica took part in a battle with the German destroyers at Ushant.

During the war, she logged 146,000 nautical miles and escorted eighty-three convoys. In combat she damaged three U-boats and shot down at least four aircraft before the war's conclusion in May 1945, also took part in sinking some other ships.

After the war, she returned to Poland. Since 1 May 1976 she has served as museum ship in Gdynia, replacing the Burza. The museum ship is open to public from May 1st to mid-November daily except Mondays and days following state feasts 10:00 am - 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm.

Further photos on the Polish Wikipedia page