Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster. Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

NavSource Online:
Gunboat Photo Archive

USS Surprise (PG 63)

Surprise call sign:
Nan - Baker - Fox - George

ex-HMS Heliotrope (K 03)

Surprise served the Navies of Great Britain, the United States, Taiwan and The Peoples Republc of China.

British Flower Class Corvette/Temptress Class Patrol Gunboat:

  • Laid down 23 October 1939 by John Crown and Sons Ltd., Sunderland, England for the French Navy but taken over by Great Britian with the fall of France
  • Launched 5 June 1940
  • Commissioned HMS Heliotrope (K 03), 12 September 1940
  • Transferred to the U.S. Navy at Hull, England 24 March 1942 and commissioned USS Surprise (PG-63) the same day
  • Decommissioned 20 August 1945 at Chatham, England
  • Returned to the Royal Navy 26 August 1945
  • Struck from the Navy Register 17 September 1945
  • Served in the British merchant service as Heliolock in 1946
  • Sold to Taiwan in 1947 and renamed Ziang Teh
  • Fell into the hands of the Communist Chinese and renamed Lin I
  • Fate unknown.


  • Displacement 1,118 t.
  • Length 205' 2"
  • Beam 33'
  • Draft 14' 7"
  • Speed 16.5 kts.
  • Complement 87
  • Armament: One 4"/50 gun mount, one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount, two 20mm guns, two depth charge tracks and four depth charge projectors
  • Propulsion: Two 225psi Scotch boilers, one 2,750iph Northeastern Marine Engine Co. verticle triple expansion engine, one shaft.
    e=2>Robert Hurst
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Surprise 99k Wearing Measure 16 - Thayer System colors, whose patterns are identical on both sides of the hull.
    National Archives photo 19-N-66637 from "Naval Camouflage 1914-1945: A Complete Visual Reference", by David Williams
    Robert Hurst
    Surprise 520k Surprise emerges after a refit at Charleston Navy Yard, 8 May 1944. Alterations have been circled: they included 20mm guns in the waist, the new SL surface-search radar on alight tripod mast, and the 3"/50 aft. Note the Hedgehog to starboard of the bridge. The box forward of the bridge is a British-style sonar hut
    Photo from U.S. Small Combatants: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman
    Surprise 383k
    Surprise 84k Original photo: 19 May 1944
    Replacement photo: c. May 1944
    Photo from "U.S. Warships of World War II" by Paul H. Silverstone
    Original photo: Hyper War U.S. Navy in WWII
    Replacement photo: Robert Hurst
    Surprise 63k 1 July 1944
    Just before entering a fjord crossing the Arctic Circle in Greenland. George Schoelles, GM3/c is in the lower portion of the photo on the Hedgehog mount.
    George Schoelles

    Commanding Officers
    01LCDR John Jackson, RNR8 August 1940
    02LT Richard Coulter Drum Hunt, Jr., USN24 March 1942 - September 1942
    03LT L. H. Watson, USN1944
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    View the Surprise (PG-63)
    DANFS History entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Website
    Back To The Main Photo Index Back to the Patrol Craft/Gunboat/Submarine Chaser Index Back to the Patrol Gunboat (PG) Photo Index

    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster

    This page created by Gary P. Priolo and maintained by Joe Radigan
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History