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Source: ADM199/535 Suggested Minesweeping Policy in North Russian Waters 5th May 1943 (Extracts)


From:   The Senior Officer, 1st Minesweeping Flotilla HMS HARRIER
Date:    19th April 1943
To: The Director of Minesweeping, Admiralty, through The Rear Admiral (Destroyers), Home Fleet. 


Suggested Minesweeping Policy in North Russian Waters


1. The only definite reports of minelaying are:- 

(a) Mine detonated by HAZARD in August 1942 in Dvina River Estuary, reported to have been seen to fall without a parachute, consequently believed to have been a ‘G’ mine, though swept with a 5 ˝ second pulse. 

(b) Mines detonated by Fleet sweepers in November 1942 at Matochkin and Yugorski Shar and, (less reliably reported) by Russian trawlers with Type A and by a wooden, diesel engined fishing boat. 

(c) Explosions off Kanin Nos in over 30 fathoms on the 24th  November 1942, believed to have been caused by the racing of HARRIER’s engines in a southern gale firing acoustic mines. 

(d) Mining of Mikoyan in position 68°37’ North, 45° 15’ East in over 30 fathoms on 25th November 1942. 

2. It is suggested that: 

A     1(a) Can now be disregarded as no further mines have been found despite sweeping and a large volume of traffic in this channel. 

B      1(b) Probably indicates that acoustic as well as magnetic and/or Sammy Mines were being laid in shallow water as late as summer 1942.  

C     1(c and d) Suggest that acoustic mines possibly moored, were present as late as November 1942, though (d) might have been caused by a Sammy Mine.

D     There has been no reliable evidence yet of mines in QZL 39,48,49 and 50 

E      South of Terski Orlov there is nothing to prevent aircraft minelaying , which has frequently been reported but never confirmed. 

F      Minelaying by surface craft or U-boats in QZL 49 and 48 as far south as Terski Orlov is always liable to occur. South of Terski Orlov is improbable. 

[Details of the proposed minesweeping policy are then detailed in the document, but have not been included here]

A D H Jay
Commander, Senior Officer, First Minesweeping Flotilla


Comments Attached to the Report by Director of Minesweeping (DMS)  18.5.43 

The enclosed letter on Minesweeping Policy in North Russian Waters has just been received from Commander Jay, S.O. 1st Minesweeping Flotilla, through RAD Home Fleet. It is not easy to be seen what can be done about it……


2. At the same time it is not much use having a Minesweeping Policy without any minesweepers and it is pointed out that this letter has not been seen by C in C Home Fleet.


3. It has been C in C Home Fleet’s intention to keep at least 5 Fleet Minesweepers in North Russian waters. As there has been no opportunity for relief’s we have in North Russian waters only two, BRITOMART and JASON. These two ships left UK in January and February 1943 respectively, and both are due to refit in July.


4. DMS is not aware when C in C Home Fleet proposes to either relieve or reinforce these two vessels, nor is DMS aware how much sweeping and how much A/S patrol work is required of them at present. It is quite obvious that they cannot carry out any defined sweeping policy until they are reinforced. Probably the most they can do now is to fulfil any reasonable requests they receive from the Russians.


5. DMS has never understood why the enemy minelaying in these most vulnerable waters has been so inefficient. He cannot help feeling that a change of command on the part of the enemy might produce a very different result.


6. We are so short of Fleet Sweepers at Home that a policy defining our North Russian programme would be of great assistance.


7. If DOD (H) cannot hep in this respect it is proposed to ask C in C Home Fleet.


8. One thing is quite clear, if the enemy should decide to heavily mine the approaches to North Russia before the arrival of our next convoy we have not enough Fleet Sweepers there at present to be able to ensure any safety for the convoy at all…… 



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