Halcyon Class Minesweepers

Halcyon Class Ships
First Minesweeping Flotilla 193

1st MSF 1936
1st MSF 1937
1st MSF 1938



Minesweepers at Portland
Minesweepers at Portland

Source: ADM1/9566 (selective extracts)

Annual Report of Minesweeping 1st November 1936 - 31st October 1937

Captain Fisheries Protection and Minesweeping, Portland

Ships employed on Minesweeping duties

First Minesweeping Flotilla

HMS HALCYON (Senior Officer), relieved by HEBE 10th Nov 1937

HMS HARRIER (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.

HMS SPEEDWELL (Divisional Commander),  to be relieved by Seagull in 1938




General Employment 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 completed.

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 May.

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.

12. Minesweeping 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 SKIPJACK. 

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 oiling.

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 companies.

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.

A/S Methods

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 obtained.  



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