Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Sharpshooter

S'shooter Pre-War
Sharpshooter 1939
Sharpshooter 1940
Sharpshooter 1941
Sharpshooter 1942
Sharpshooter 1943
Sharpshooter 1944
Sharpshooter 1945
S'shooter Post War
Sharpshooter Crew



HMS Sharpshooter - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Sharpshooter
Source: www.navyphotos.co.uk


Summary of History

 HMS Sharpshooter BadgeSource: Extracts from one of a series of articles from World Ship Society’s publication ‘Warship’  THE WAR OF THE HALCYONS 1939-1945 R A Ruegg

HMS SHARPSHOOTER (J68) was laid down on 8 June 1936 at Devonport Dockyard under the 1935 Programme. She was launched 10 December 1936 and completed on 17 December 1937.  From April to July 1938 she operated in the Channel and visited south coast ports, she then accompanied the Flotilla on its visit to Fredrikstadt (Oslo Fjord). On 9 September the ships of the Flotilla were brought up to full complement, and for two months they were at their war Station (Scapa Flow) and off the east Scottish coast. (This was the period of the 'Czech Crisis' when the Prime Minister visited Germany and played for time). By the year's end SHARPSHOOTER was at Sheerness. 

In June 1939 with other ships of the flotilla she took part in the search for the submarine THETIS, sunk in Liverpool Bay. She then operated with the flotilla in the Channel, and took part in the Royal Inspection (Reserve Fleet Review) at Portland on 9th August. At the outbreak of war on 3 Sept 1939 SHARPSHOOTER was at her War Station at Scapa. For the rest of 1939 and into Jan 1940 SHARPSHOOTER operated as a minesweeper at Scapa, with visits to Port ‘A’ and the Clyde. On 5th December 1939 she was in collision with a tanker sustaining minor damage. Her Commanding Officer was told on 23 December 1939 that 'if necessary' his ship would join the cruiser DORSETSHIRE in the hunt for the German Pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER who was ravaging merchant shipping. In Feb./March she refitted at Grangemouth. 

SHARPSHOOTER proceeded from Scapa to Dover in May 1940 to take part in Operation 'Dynamo'. She was involved in a collision on 30/31st May with the cross Channel steamer ST. HELIER which struck SHARPSHOOTER's bows with her stern, and was badly damaged (cut down foc'sle deck to keel). She remained off Dunkirk until 1st June and was then towed back by the tug FOREMOST 22 the fifty miles to Dover which took 13 hours.   After repairs she was minesweeping in Home Waters. It was then decided that the 1st Flotilla should be at one week's notice for (sweeping) operations, but should otherwise be available to the CinC Western Approaches for escort duty. Between 6 August and 10 November she was 'arcticised' - a guarantee of at least part of her future employment.

Out of refit, SHARPSHOOTER sailed to Archangel with PQ5 where she carried out local duties in North Russian waters in December 1941 and January 1942; these included A/S patrols and escorting incoming convoys and of course she looked for mines. SHARPSHOOTER sailed with the homeward-bound QP9 (19 ships) which left Murmansk on 21 March 1942. On 24 March SHARPSHOOTER rammed and sank U655, the first U Boat to be sunk during a Russian Convoy. SHARPSHOOTER was damaged and proceeded ahead of the convoy for repairs.

In September 1942 she sailed with PQ18. During the passage of this convoy the enemy lost three U-boats and about 40 aircraft but managed to sink 13 merchant ships; the survivors of the convoy reached Archangel on 17 September. SHARPSHOOTER remained there until November when she returned with QP15 and was damaged in a collision with a merchant ship at Iceland.

On 30 May 1943 SHARPSHOOTER escorted KMS15 (74 ships) which was one of the preliminary convoys for the planned amphibious landing on Sicily (Operation 'Husky'). Detaching three ships at Gibraltar, this convoy entered the Mediterranean with Convoy UGS8A (58 ships). The combined convoy of 129 ships was the largest of the war up to that time, covering 68 square miles of sea, and screened by 19 escorts. SHARPSHOOTER took part in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. SHARPSHOOTER then led a busy life minesweeping in and off Mediterranean ports from Malta, Italy and the eastern Med, and they also worked as convoy escorts.

SHARPSHOOTER then joined the 49th Escort Group. From 18 February 1944 to the third week in September she escorted Mediterranean convoys. On 5 April while temporarily with MKS44, she was damaged by the explosion of a 'Gnat' (German acoustic torpedo).  She refitted at Haifa 10 May to 16 June and then escorted several more convoys.

SHARPSHOOTER returned for a refit at Chatham in October 1944. On 16th November she sailed up to Lowestoft for a further month's refit, after which she became a seagoing training ship for engineering personnel. In mid May 1945 SHARPSHOOTER was converted into a survey ship.

HMS Sharpshooter, 1st MSF, poem

In April 1946 she sailed to relieve CHALLENGER who was engaged on Hydrographic survey duty on the China coast. 

As she sailed east she performed a small survey in the Aden area and continued on to Trincomalee via Bombay. On 10 July she departed Trincomalee and carried out a short survey in the Mergui Archipelago (S. Burma coast). On 25 July she sailed for Penang to locate wrecks in the southern approaches to the port. By 3 August she was at Singapore from whence she departed on the 24th for a month's survey on the Malayan east coast. She then had a short stay at Singapore before sailing for a variety of survey duties to occupy her commission.

When SHARPSHOOTER completed her Far East survey duties she returned to the UK in 1948 for Home Waters surveying. On 1 July 1953, she was renamed SHACKLETON - a more appropriate name for a survey ship. It was not until late 1962 that SHACKLETON paid off into Reserve at Devonport (9 November 1962). She languished in Reserve until 3 November 1965 when she was sold to the West of Scotland Ship Breaking Company, and on 20 November 1965 she arrived at Troon for break-up. 

HMS Sharpshooter


See also www.naval-history.net


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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012