- al. Jana Pawła II 1, 81-001 Gdynia, Pologne
Launched in 1936, ORP Blyskawica is the oldest surviving destroyer in the world. The ship took part in several key operations of the Second World War, most notably Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of Normandy, which started the liberation of Western Europe. The ship currently became part of the open air Polish Navy Museum.
ORP Blyskawica was, along with her twin-ship ORP Grom, the most modern ship of the pre-war Polish Navy. A few days before the German invasion of Poland, the beginning of the Second World War, she left the Baltic along with two Polish destroyers and sailed to Britain. Serving under operational control of the Royal Navy, Blyskawica took part in naval operations around Narvik during the Norwegian campaign, helped in the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk during the operation Dynamo in 1940 and escorted Atlantic convoys.
From 1942 Blyskawica joined in the liberation efforts performed by the Allies, first during the landing at Algiers in November 1942, when her artillerymen supposedly shot down a German bomber plane. In this action the ship suffered significant damage and losses itself. She remained in the Mediterranean until mid-1943, when she took part in preliminary operations before the allied landing in Sicily.
After long refit, Blyskawica joined the allied armada for Operation Overlord – the landing in Normandy. Blyskawica, along with Polish, Canadian and British destroyers, provided distant cover for the landing force. During the night of 8 June 1944 she took part in the battle of Ushant (Ouessant), where a German destroyer force was defeated, losing two vessels. Until early 1945 Blyskawica performed various patrol and escort duties in the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel. Her last military operation was sinking the surrendered German u-boats during Operation Deadlight in November and December 1945.
ORP Blyskawica returned to Poland in 1947. Since 1976, after another 20 years of service in the Polish Navy, she is a Museum Ship in the harbour of Gdynia and is part of the open air Polish Navy Museum located nearby.