of Minesweeping 1st
November 1936 - 31st October 1937
Fisheries Protection and Minesweeping, Portland
Ships employed on
HMS HALCYON (Senior
Officer), relieved by HEBE 10th Nov 1937
(Divisional Commander), to be relieved by SHARPSHOOTER in January 1938
HMS SKIPJACK, to be
relieved by HAZARD in December 1937. Recommissioned for temporary service in
First Minesweeping Flotilla from January to March 1938.
(Divisional Commander), to be relieved by Seagull in 1938
in Year under review.
1. From 24th November
to 10th December all ships of the First Minesweeping Flotilla were stationed at
Portland carrying out exercises and training Reserve officers.
2. On Thursday 10th
December ships began to disperse to their home ports to give Christmas leave.
All ships reassembling at Portland by Saturday 16th January.
3. The Flotilla
carried on its normal programme of training and exercising at Portland, except
for slight interference from weather and an Influenza epidemic, until Tuesday
2nd March, when ships of the Flotilla returned to their Home Ports for Annual
Refit and to give Spring leave, carrying out Fishery Patrol while on passage.
4. During this period
at Portland, 16th January to 2nd March, trials as to the best method for dealing
with obstructors were commenced by HARRIER, and preliminary work was
5. The Flotilla
reassembled at Portland on completion of refit and leave by Saturday 17th April,
with the exception of HUSSAR, completion of whose refit was delayed.
HUSSAR rejoined Thursday 22nd April.
6. From 19th April to
30th April the Flotilla carried out usual minesweeping exercises and training,
and then put the crews through the Annual Rifle Course on Portland Range while
preparing for the Coronation Naval Review.
7. The Flotilla
sailed for Spithead for the Coronation Naval Review, Tuesday 18th May, anchoring
in their lines the same evening.
8. From 18th - 21st
May the Flotilla was at Spithead for the Review, returning to Portland pm 21st
9. After carrying out
exercises and each ship embarking one mine and two sinkers, the Flotilla sailed
for a summer cruise on Wednesday 2nd June, SALAMANDER having been detached
earlier - 27th May- to attend on aircraft during their crossing from the
mainland to Isle of Man for the Annual London to Isle of Man Air Race on
Saturday 29th May.
10. Minesweeping and
Flotilla exercises were carried out en route, and, after SALAMANDER had rejoined off the entrance, the Flotilla berthed in the Albert Dock, Liverpool am Friday
4th June. The visit to Liverpool appeared to be most successful, the ships
were visited by very large numbers of ship visitors, and a good liaison was established
with the local RNVR Division. A great deal of entertaining took place.
11. The Flotilla
sailed for Stranraer on Thursday 10th June, arriving the next day and was joined
by HMIS Indus there on Sunday 13th June.
exercises, using the mines and sinkers embarked before sailing on the
cruise, were carried out in the Firth of Clyde area commencing 14th June and
finished up with a most successful Flotilla Regatta on 24th June in the Gareloch.
13. During this
period, besides the exercises with mines. trials were commenced with a combined
'A' and 'O' Sweeps which should prove useful, from results so far obtained, and
with developing the type of deep water Danbuoy which had been evolved by
14. The Flotilla was
dispersed to various ports in the Clyde for the weekend, and on Monday 28th June
sailed for Belfast, securing alongside the Victoria Wharf the same evening after
15. Being under
orders to proceed to Gibraltar to take over Non-Intervention Patrol on the south
coast of Spain, the Flotilla sailed from Belfast on 5th July and after a shake
up from a Summer gale in the St George's Channel, had a calm and uneventful trip
back to Portland arriving on 7th July. All stores and provisions for foreign
service were embarked within 48 hours of arrival, and the Flotilla sailed for
Gibraltar on 12th July. After a rather foggy passage the Flotilla arrived at
Gibraltar 17th July and took over Non-Intervention Patrol.
16. On Saturday 14th
August the Flotilla, less SALAMANDER on Non-Intervention Patrol off Cadiz,
proceeded for Cape de Cato to search an area off that point to see that it was
clear of mines to enable a cable ship to work on the Gibraltar/Malta cable
damaged in that vicinity. The search was carried out on 15th August in fine
weather and completed by 1600. Ships then returned to Gibraltar and after
oiling, proceeded for the UK on 16th August to give Summer leave to Ship's
17. Ships arrived at
their Home Ports on 20th and 21st August, and returned to Portland on completion
of leave by Saturday 25th September.
18. Since returning
to Portland, normal Minesweeping exercises and training has been recommenced,
trials with obstructor, 'A' and 'O' sweep and SKIPJACK Danbuoy are continuing
and a special trial was carried out on 12th October.
19. Ships are
carrying out half-yearly docking in turn at Portland, except NIGER and
SALAMANDER who have been docked at Devonport.
At present the
minesweeper is in the position of a person walking in the dark who can only feel
for obstruction by stretching his arms behind him. Modern science has done much
for the protection and improvement of the mine but at present cannot provide any
means of giving warning to the sweeper of the danger which is before him.
In this respect it
would appear that a means of A/S detection may permit of the minesweeper being
warned of a mine two or three cables ahead and by making a small alteration of
course, steer so that she avoids the mine while still engaging it into the
sweep. In this respect the minesweeper will be in a more advantageous position
than the hunter of submarines in that a true report will be confirmed within
five minutes while little or no harm will have been done in the event of a
report being false.
A magnetic compass
has always been used for minesweeping up to the present and on the whole it has
proved satisfactory. Accurate navigation however accounts for a very large
proportion of successful sweeping it is suggested that the best available
methods should be used.
The increased depths
at which modern mines can be laid gives the minelayer a much bigger scope which
in turn calls for more accurate navigation than in the past.
Now that a low power
system has had to be installed in minesweepers, Halcyon
Class, to meet gunnery
requirements, it is considered that as a start a simple gyro compass system such
as is fitted in smaller mercantile vessels, should be fitted in ships of the
Senior Officer and Second in Command of the First Minesweeping Flotilla.
Practical experience of the many expected advantages could then be