HMS PitcairnHMS Pitcairn

Originally authorised as Gunboat PG-193, then re-designated a Patrol Frigate PF-85, the USS Pilford was built under a Maritime Commission contract by Walsh-Kaiser Co. Inc. in Seattle, USA and launched in Providence, Rhode Island on 15 April, 1943.

HMS Pitcairn BadgeAs one of 21 Frigate Class ships built of similar design, the Pilford like the other Frigates, were named after American Captains’. These names were changed to British “Colony” names in July -September 1943. The Pilford, now the HMS Pitcairn (K-589) was assigned to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease Programme and was officially commissioned on July 7, 1944. Her official badge bearing the HMAV Bounty is seen here.

With a displacement of 1,190 tons, a length of 303 feet and a top speed of 20 knots, the Pitcairn served as a patrol and escort vessel during the remainder of World War II with other Colony Class Frigates mostly in the North Atlantic.

HMS Pitcairn First Day Cover
Armed with three 3” gun mounts, eight depth charge projectors, two twin 40mm gun mounts and nine 20mm guns, the Pitcairn was thrown into the fray on October 8, 1944 when she came in contact with a German U-Boat while escorting six Russian ships from St. Johns Newfoundland to Falmouth in the UK. At 0100 hours she carried out a depth charge attack (known as a ‘hedgehog’ attack as the depth charges are fired forward of the ship over the bows). A torpedo was sighted passing down the port side of the Pitcairn, missing the stern by just 30 yards. Contact was lost after three hedgehog attacks.

The HMS Pitcairn was returned to the United States Maritime Commission in June, 1946 and was removed from the Navy List on July 3. She was eventually sold for scrap to ship breakers John J. Duane Co., Quincy, Massachusetts in November 1947.

HMS Pitcairn Miniature Sheet

The stamp is available only on miniature sheet as mint or CTO as well as on First Day Cover. The issue is on sale from 7 July, 2004 and is available from the Pitcairn Philatelic Bureau or Pitcairn’s appointed agents worldwide.


The Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau would like to express its appreciation for the assistance kindly offered by Paul Kalas, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and Mike Waugh in helping make this issue possible.

HMS Pitcairn
Please Note: All prices are in New Zealand Dollars
Miniature Sheet

Mint and CTO


Technical Details

Release Date : 07 July 2004
Designer: Ron Fulstow, Paraparaumu New  Zealand
Printer : Wyatt and Wilson, Christchurch, New Zealand
Process : Offset Lithography
Perforation Gauge : 13.2 x 2cms
Stamp Size : 60.80mm x 30.40mm horizontal.
Mini Sheet Size:
134.0mm x 80.0mm horizontal.
Denomination (NZD) : $5.50
Paper : 104gsm, litho gummed stamp paper
Period of Sale :
7 July, 2004  for a period of 2 years.