Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Sharpshooter Post War

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




Vice Admiral Sir Guy Wyatt had no sooner taken office as Hydrographer than he was agitating to bring the surveying fleet up to strength. As after the previous war, early replacements could not be new vessels when there was a vast surplus of shipping, including many nearly completed hulls, available. As an immediate measure two Halcyon class minesweepers, SHARPSHOOTER and Seagull, were given similar conversions to those built into Jason and Gleaner pre-war, and replaced these latter in the post-war surveying fleet. With luffing davits and radar fitted, the mainmast which the other two had carried and which had in any case been removed to avoid fouling the AA arcs during the war was not replaced. Both were ready for service in the new role by early 1946. Seagull and SHARPSHOOTER thus introduced the third variant in surveying Halcyon masting, since though they, like their predecessors, were fitted with a beaconing derrick and stump on the forecastle and maintained their foremast aft of the bridge, they did not have their mainmasts restored, so a Halcyon in surveying white and buff without a mainmast must be one of these later two.  

Source: EXTRACTS from: Charts and Surveys in Peace and War – The History of the RN Hydrographic Service 1919 – 1970 by Rear Admiral R O Morris CB 


HMS Sharpshooter HMS Shackleton Halcyon Minesweeper as Survey Ship
HMS Shackleton (Wright & Logan 10644)

This refit and conversion on the Thames was drastic, SHARPSHOOTER emerging shorn of her armament and in fact she was a survey ship. Other ships of her class had started their lives in this role; she was to end hers in it. She was completed towards the end of March 1946 and she was then unlucky enough to collide with the ss Fealty in Woolwich Reach on 3 April 1946, holed 4ft above the water line and plates buckled, followed by a collision with a moored barge. She spent most of April under repair and then sailed to relieve Challenger who was engaged on Hydrographic survey duty on the China coast. 

HMS Sharpshooter in Suez Canal 1947/8  HMS Sharpshooter in Suez Canal 1947/8
Sharpshooter passing through Suez Canal
Below, sea boat crew exercising man overboard drill at Suez
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

HMS Sharpshooter - sea boat crew exercising man overboard drill at Suez  HMS Sharpshooter - sea boat crew exercising man overboard drill at Suez

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. As these duties are outside the scope of the available war records only a brief resume will follow to cover her later years. 


SHARPSHOOTER, under Menzies, sailed in May 1946
to relieve the verminous converted yacht WHITE
BEAR  for surveys in Malaya and Borneo, re-establishing the British presence in a constructive and peaceful way in some of the remoter areas, including the rivers of Brunei and Sarawak. She returned home at the end of 1947. Apart from this and Franklin's pre-war sortie to North America, all the Halcyon class spent their entire working lives in northern European waters, often with one or two SMLs attached to them for shallow water work. 

Source: EXTRACTS from: Charts and Surveys in Peace and War – The History of the RN Hydrographic Service 1919 – 1970 by Rear Admiral R O Morris CB

HMS Sharpshooter as survey ship

H M S  Sharpshooter as survey ship


Extracts from ‘No Day Too Long’, G S Ritchie
With additional extracts THE WAR OF THE HALCYONS 1939‑1945 R A Ruegg World Ship Society 

On the outbreak of war, two of the four Halcyon class minesweepers which had been completed as survey ships, JASON and GLEANER, were taken over by the general service. The latter, in command of a surveyor, Lieutenant Commander Price, soon distinguished herself by sinking a U‑boat in the approaches to the Clyde. 

In early 1946 these two vessels were replaced by a single Halcyon class minesweeper which had survived the War, SHARPSHOOTER. To this ship I was appointed as first lieutenant to oversee her conversion to a surveying ship, at Green and Silley Weir of London, and by mid‑1946 we were on our way to the Far East under the command of Commander Henry Menzies, a gaunt figure with a zest for life and an insatiable enthusiasm for new hobbies. He was a competent surveyor from whom I learnt much during the next four years. 

HMS Sharpshooter in Malta en route to Far East 1946

HMS Sharpshooter in Malta en route to Far East
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

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). (Ruegg)

On our way to Singapore we were diverted to Mergui in southern Burma to survey the shallow approaches so that supplies of rice could be brought in to alleviate the hardship currently endured by the people of the Tenasserim coast. Our main tasks, however, were based on Singapore from where we were to conduct surveys on the East Coast of Malaya and in Sarawak. 

On 25 July 1946 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. As these duties are outside the scope of the available war records only a brief resume will follow to cover her later years. (Ruegg)


HMS Sharpshooter, Singapore  HMS Sharpshooter, Singapore

HMS Sharpshooter in Singapore, view of Chartroom (bottom right)
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

HMS Sharpshooter, Singapore  Chartroom HMS Sharpshooter, Singapore

On arrival in the Naval Base at Singapore the Flag Officer, Malayan Area, requested that surveys of the small East Coast riverine parts of Kuantun and Rompin be given priority so that much needed rice could be shipped in for the natives of a remote area with few roads. It was necessary to complete this work before the onset of the north‑east monsoon, so while the ship underwent some minor repairs advance parties were sent north by jeep. In previous years there was no East Coast road, but the Japanese had constructed one. It was little more than a track, whilst the rotting timbers of the many bridges over the sungeis made jeep travel both laborious and at times exciting. Unarmed, we slept happily in our camp beds in a barnlike structure in the village of Rompin, heedless of the posters adorning the walls denoting earlier Communist occupation. Within a few months this was to become a no‑go area for Europeans. 

Ten years after surveying at Kermaman I was back at the site of our old tidepole in the river. I located with ease our benchmark, which I had cut in a massive boulder, and to which I levelled a newly established tidepole to be read by a couple of tidewatchers concurrently with the reading of a tidepole at Kuantun in order to transfer our previously established datum from Kemaman. Some of the villagers remembered our camp party; they had suffered much since then during the Japanese occupation, and they told me that the District Officer who had organised the building of our atap house in 1936 had been killed by the Japanese as they stormed southwards towards Singapore. 

Henry Menzies always believed in testing his surveys with the ship, so we had a thrilling passage in SHARPSHOOTER across the shallow Kuantan bar over which the sea was breaking, followed by a 90°turn to starboard into the river. We anchored off the small town of Kuantun dressed overall for the King's Birthday and received onboard His Highness the Sultan of Pahang a fitting end to our East Coast surveys. 

The small State of Brunei in North Borneo comprises land on either side of the Sungei Brunei, the famed stilted village in the river, the town of Brunei and the Sultan's Palace. The river is entered across an extensive bar, the depths over which had not been checked since prewar. This was SHARPSHOOTER's next task, during which a grounding of the vessel on a sandy seabed was soon resolved by the use of kedge anchors, the laying out of which I had already experienced in both Herald and Endeavour. 

Muara Island, on the starboard hand as one enters the river is today, I understand, the centre of a thriving oil industry and it is difficult to believe that a rather stupid surveying recorder whom we sent ashore to erect a mark on the island was lost for twenty‑four hours in thick jungle. 

Before sailing for Brunei our medical officer was relieved by a stocky young extrovert who came from Combined Operations together with a motorised canoe he had 'liberated' and a number of other diverse items. After a few days at sea the leading stoker in charge of the mess, which was located in close proximity to the Sick Bay, asked me if I could do something about a heavy sack which the doctor had stowed beneath their mess table and required moving every time the mess was scrubbed out. I bustled down to the mess deck and on opening the sewn up sack I was surprised to find a truncated corpse. I confronted the doctor who said that he had bought it from a Chinaman in Singapore, it was heavily injected for preservation, there was no room for it in the Sick Bay and he would be using it for training his junior assistant. He did not take kindly to my order to dispose of his precious body overboard, whilst the stokers expressed some concern that the corpse of a Chinaman had been at their feet as they took their daily meals. 

In April 1947 we sailed for Sarawak. Much had changed in this beautiful country since the pre war Herald days of which I had so many happy memories……. When we arrived in SHARPSHOOTER six months after the birth of the new colony we found the people confused and divided, yet they clearly retained much of the friendliness and charm I so vividly remembered from the old days. 

The British Government's desire now was to open up their new colony and stimulate trade, so in a country of very few roads our attention was directed towards the improvement of commercial navigation along the rivers. Herald, in pre war days, had surveyed the Rajang, Sarawak's greatest river, as far as Sarekei, a small township thirty‑five miles from the sea. SHARPSHOOTER's task was now to survey the river for a further thirty‑five miles upstream to Sibu, the second largest town in the country and headquarters of the Third Division. There were a great many potential exports from Sibu including rubber, pepper, chillies, timber, charcoal, palm oil, copra, jelutong (the basis of chewing gum), rice and kutch (from mangrove bark, used in tanning). 

HMS Sharpshooter boat deck taken from bridge  HMS Sharpshooter Forecastle and bridge

HMS Sharpshooter: boat deck taken from bridge; forecastle and bridge.
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

The river, which was ever busy with prahus coming and going, varies in width from about 200 yards to a mile; for the first half of the passage to Sibu the banks were fringed with a wide band of mangroves and nipah palms, the leaves of the latter being used to thatch the Than (Sea Dyak) longhouses which, built on high stilts, were to be found at frequent intervals on either side of the river. Later a smaller freshwater mangrove took over and more open country provided space for the rubber gardens of the Foochow Chinese. 

Little firm coastline was to be seen on the air photographs with which we had been provided. This dictated that the triangulation supporting the survey would have to be carried upriver by single triangles rather than balanced quadrilaterals, since the labour of clearing mangrove would be disproportionate to the results achieved, whilst there would be a chance to tie in our triangulation to the few Sarawak survey traverse points along the way. Metre‑square collapsible canvas covered marks were prepared by the shipwright which could be hung in the mangrove trees beneath which a surveyor could position himself in a folboat to observe the angles to similar marks comprising the triangles. 

HMS Sharpshooter - surveying in Borneo
HMS Sharpshooter in Borneo
Source: Steve Prigmore

The ship anchored off Sarikei on 19th April 1947 to recover Herald's pre-war benchmark and to establish the first of a number of tidal observing camps which would be required to carry the tidal datum upstream. Here we met our first lbans wandering through the few streets buying necessities from the Chinese stalls. The men were stocky in build, their thick black hair cut to a fringe in front; their throats, their arms and their thighs were tattooed with strange asymmetrical swirling designs. They wore the briefest of loincloths with a parang in its wooden sheath secured with a rope of coconut fibre around their waists, or thrust into the long creel‑like baskets which they carried on their backs. Their womenfolk, who we were to encounter later, wore only a sarong and were of comely shape and happy disposition. 

The western mooring dolphin off the jetty at Sarikei had been coordinated by Herald when terminating her pre-war survey of the lower Rajang and so, to provide a starting baseline for our own work, a boat's taut‑wire machine, such as Berncastle and Glen had used off the Normandy beaches, was used to measure a distance up the first reach of the river to a terminal station established on an accessible firm area of riverbank; the direction to the dolphin was computed from astronomical observations made with theodolite at this terminal. The captain's ingenuity led us to work out a system that made the best use of all the surveying officers and recorders and our boats, even including the doctor's motor canoe, in order to carry the survey upstream at a rate of one to two miles a day…. 

Unknown crewman, HMS Sharpshooter
Unknown crewman, HMS Sharpshooter
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

…Every two or three days the ship was moved forward into the newly sounded area to anchor nearer the scene of operations. By transferring the port bower anchor, together with its swivel piece, to the 3˝ inch wire towing hawser rove onto the port Oropesa winch, the ship was able to moor head and stem in those narrower parts of the river where there was no room to swing. 

Those in the advanced boats often spent their nights as guests in a longhouse, thus avoiding a long upstream trip from the ship in the morning. This was an unusual experience: throughout the night people came and went across the creaking floors of the communal area, gangs left for distant padi fields, groups returned from festivities in other longhouses, unsteadily climbing the notched tree trunk, which led from the prahu landing up to the house. Tuak, a sweet thick alcoholic beverage distilled from rice was always in supply. 

My opportunity to spend a night in a longhouse came when Henry Menzies moored the ship off Kampong Leman one afternoon and announced a 'hari raya' (holiday) in honour of the King's Birthday next day. By early evening a raft of about sixty prahus, reaching nearly to the riverbank, was made fast to the gangway with about 300 Dyaks squatting on the quarterdeck in readiness for the ship's film show, in which a newsreel showing the Oxford and Cambridge boat race was always well received with derisive shouts of 'kayu belakang'‑ or ‘paddling the wrong way round'; fortunately we also had a stock of 'Westerns' with plenty of shooting. 

As night fell a number of us, including Henry, went ashore for a party in the nearby longhouse. Tuak was liberally served from the outset. We admired the recently acquired stock of smoked Japanese heads hanging from the rafters, and slowly the music began and dancing commenced. Gongs in long wooden troughs, hollow logs and a variety of drums were used to provide the music, whilst the dancing consisted of wild posturings and swirlings by individuals or groups, the imitation of which by the gangling figures of Henry and Charles Scott our senior watchkeeper, brought shrieks of merriment from the women and children. Time passes quickly when one is under the influence of tuak and first light, announced by the crowing of cockerels and the quarrelling of dogs beneath the longhouse, came all too soon. The weary orchestra fumbled to a finish and our hosts assisted us down the tree trunk and into the prahus for return to the ship and a day's sleep. 

Living communally as they did, the lbans had no conception of privacy and felt free to board the ship at any time and wander where they pleased, a practice we did not oppose. Not one article of any description was stolen during the five weeks it took us to reach Sibu where SHARPSHOOTER berthed alongside on 1st July; during this time we estimated we had played host to about 2,000 lbans…. 

.... For some time it had been our captain's ambition to have a tame gibbon onboard and this desire had been imparted to the lbans as we moved up river. Just before we sailed from Sibu a message filtered through that a gibbon awaited delivery in the vicinity of Binatang half way down river to Sarikei. 

I have already mentioned Henry's love of ship handling. He had found that in the rivers when going with the stream the ship almost steered herself around the bends, whilst in the reverse direction canal effect was absent, the current took the wrong bow, and it was necessary to fight her round the bends. When the time came to sail downriver from Sibu a great freshet was running bringing with it huge tree trunks and great islands of vegetation. Henry was delighted and set off downstream at a great speed, sweeping round the bends with the minimum of help from the wheel, including the 120' turn at Leba‑an. As we approached Binatang all eyes were on the prahus in search of the gibbon ‑ and, yes, there were four lbans holding high a young black ape. The river here was narrow so the decision was to anchor by the stem using the kedge anchor and lie to the racing river waters for the transfer. I was sent to the bridge to take charge of the ship, while Henry went to the quarterdeck to receive the animal. 

The kedge failed to hold the ship in the strong current and we slowly dragged downstream; only occasionally did I dare to use the engines astern to slow our progress, fearful as I was of fouling the towing hawser. Meanwhile the activities on the quarterdeck seemed unduly protracted; however, at long last a smiling Henry returned to the bridge, blood streaming from one of his fingers, but the ape ('never call it a monkey,' said Henry) was safely belted and on its chain in the cuddy. 

Next followed a visit to Singapore for fuel and stores before returning to Sarawak, where a tide‑watching party was left on the small uninhabited island of Pulo Lakei near the entrance to the Ktiching River in order to transfer a tidal datum established there by Herald to the Batang Lupar in the Second Division which was the next river to be surveyed. On arrival next day in the Batang Lupar a tide‑watching camp was established on the right bank about a quarter of a mile from a Malay kampong near the entrance to the river. Meanwhile a signal was received from the leading seaman in charge at Pulo Lakei ‘Island swarming at night with giant iguanas stop Request instructions' ‑ 'Carry a torch' was Henry's laconic reply. 

The Batang Lupar posed new problems. It was about two miles wide at its mouth and the streams, apart from brief slack water periods, ran at strengths between two and three and a half knots, making it impossible to use any but the two sounding boats. 

HMS Sharpshooter survey boats - Malaya  HMS Sharpshooter survey boats - Malaya
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

Henry had wasted no time during the passage to and from Singapore in training his gibbon and it was already extremely biddable and friendly. It learnt to use the W.C., for peeing at least, whilst hanging by its long arms from the deckhead, although it had not yet learnt to push the flush! 

It was arranged that the Governor of the new colony, Sir Charles Arden-Clark, whilst on a tour of the Second Division in his launch, should visit SHARPSHOOTER in the Batang Lupar and take luncheon with the captain whilst I joined the A.D.C. to make a foursome. Henry was delighted at the opportunity to show off the gibbon, which was restricted to the starboard side of the cuddy by its belt and chain. After lunch, when seated in armchairs to take coffee, I noticed that the gibbon, hanging by its arms from the deckhead, was fascinated by the plume of feathers on the Governor's hat, on the table beside him, which was being gently agitated by an overhead fan. Suddenly, at the end of its tether, the gibbon aimed a copious jet towards the ornate head gear. The effort fell slightly short of target but never have I seen a vice‑regal visit so abruptly concluded as the coxswain and quartermaster were rapidly assembled to pipe the 'Still' for the Governor's departure. 

On return from a brief visit by the ship to Kuching I was despatched with Petty Officer Slater, the coxswain, in a surveying motorboat to see how the tide‑watchers were faring. At the tidepole among the mangroves we found a crude notice affixed to a tree ‑ 'Gon Kampong back soon, Abang.' Within five minutes, on nearing the hour, a young Malay carrying the 'Record of Tide Readings' book emerged from the soggy pathway. He was taken aback when he saw us but nevertheless composed himself sufficiently to record the hourly tidepole reading before we started to question him as to the whereabouts of the leading seaman and his two fellow tide‑watchers. He indicated haltingly that as 'Charlie' was getting married to an upriver Dyak woman the whole party had gone for the celebrations, leaving him in charge of the tidepole. Informing the ship by radio of these surprising developments we set out upriver against a strong ebbing current. In time the first longhouses appeared, deserted except for a few old men and women who waved onwards whither the young people had gone to celebrate. After three or four hours of travelling we heard a distant cacophony of gongs, drums and the human voice which led us eventually into a backwater and to a longhouse alive with activity and merriment. Seldom have two uninvited guests been so unwelcome at a wedding party. Refusing offers of roast pig and foaming tuak we arrested the three absentee tide‑watchers, dressed in sarongs, their heads bedecked with flowers, whilst the young bride clung to Stoker Charlie Ledger weeping copiously. It was dark long before we reached the ship with our deflated captives who were charged on arrival with being absent from their place of duty, perhaps a less serious crime than desertion which could equally have met the case. 

Charles Ledger, a 'hostilities only' rating, had, like a number of others onboard been keenly awaiting news of his discharge. As a former Yorkshire miner he had received priority, and orders to arrange an immediate passage for him to U.K. had been received onboard during the recent visit to Kuching. There were some sad days in the river when daily the young bride and her mother arrived alongside byprahu and were allowed to converse with Charles, who   was confined to the ship, from the quarterdeck. Meanwhile messages between the ship and the authorities in Kuching elicited the fact that a marriage of this nature was not recognisable in law, and the hope must be that, as Ledger returned to the coalface, his Dyak bride found a more suitable husband to provide for her in the jungles of Sarawak. 

There was no particular task for the doctor in the survey of the Batang Lupar so he spent most of his days lying on the bridge chart table enduring the daily increasing pain as a Dyak tattooist tap‑tapped with a hand‑held needle to impose a native tattoo on his shoulder. Only tots of brandy brought to him by his fellow Idlers enabled him to see the work completed…… 

…..When SHARPSHOOTER had sailed from England in May 1946 we were told that we should be away for a limited period until we were relieved by Dampier, the first of four Bay Class frigates which, with war ended, were being completed as survey ships. At long last news of Dampier's completion was received and we realised that with luck we should be home a few days before Christmas after eighteen months' absence. 

There was, however, one last task to be tackled. Port Swettenharn, the port serving the capital of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, was now quite inadequate for post‑war trade and plans had been drawn up for the establishment of extensive wharves in the closely adjacent North Klang Strait. The Strait was bordered with a wide and ancient mangrove forest. Here the scale of the survey for the port development was large, necessitating a second order triangulation to be carried through the swamps where 'jet propelled clearers' were unavailable. So we had to clear lanes ourselves up to half a mile in length; many days were spent either up to our waists in water or knee deep in mud as we hacked away at the iron‑hard mangrove trees with an assortment of axes, choppers and parangs, nightly re‑sharpened by the shipwright. Eventually the sightlines were clear, platforms were built above the mud to facilitate theodolite observations, the triangulation was balanced and plotted and the work of sounding North Klang Strait completed. 

Crew of HMS Sharpshooter in the jungle
Crew of HMS Sharpshooter in the jungle - Malaya
(Source: Steve Prigmore)

Henry had found a good home for his gibbon with friends in Singapore, and for the long voyage home he turned his attention to rug‑making devising his own pattern of a bluish grey Dyak tattoo on a brown skin background. By the time we reached Chatham a magnificent and unusual hearth rug adorned the cuddy. In front of the bridge the ship carried a great wooden carved and gaudily painted 'Kenyalang', the mythical bird of good omen of the Borneo jungles, to remind us, had that been necessary, of our life among the lbans of Sarawak.

HMS Sharpshooter 1950 Halcyon Class survey ship
HMS Sharpshooter June 1950


HMS Sharpshooter in Thames Estuary
HMS Sharpshooter in Thames Estuary
Source: Ron Edwards


HMS SHARPSHOOTER / SHACKLETON - Principal Surveys 1946 - 1962

Source: Morris






H Menzies

Malay Peninsula.


Kuantan River; Rompin River.

Sungei Brunei.


H Menzies

Malay Peninsula.


Klang Strait.

Rajang River.


E I Irving

England, East Coast.

Lowestoft approaches; The Wash, Freeman Channel; East Coast. (Early trials of the Two Range Decca system for surveying.)


E I Irving

FM Berncastle

England, East Coast.

Blakeney to Winterton; Approaches to Lowestoft.

Portsmouth; Portland.


FM Berncastle

England, East Coast

Sheringham to Winterton; Winterton Shoal and Newarp Bank; Ramsgate, Cross Ridge.


D L Gordon

D N Penfold

England, East Coast.

Harwich Harbour; Banks off Norfolk; Approaches to Lowestoft.


D N Penfold

England, East Coast

Scotland, East Coast.

Thames Estuary; Skegness to Blakeney.

I was only attached to the Sharpshooter whilst driving an ex-HDML, Surveying ML325 - 'Smellie 5'. in 1952 -early '53. Her Captain was Lt Cdr David Penfold - one of the Hungry Hundred. I went onboard to take over Officer of the Day on the morning of the '53 flood: she was afloat in her dry dock and the submarine in the next door dock had been blown across to the other side of the Medway. 

David Penfold was great fun, as Morris reports, and he would bet on anything.  When the dry dock flooded up in '53 and the chaps onboard had rushed around to seal the holes in her bottom and put out more lines, the Officer of the Day went up to report to the Captain (Penfold) who rolled over and went back to sleep, happy that the OOD - a dour chap - had at last developed a sense of humour. To add to the fun Penfold was specially commended  by C-in-C for his prompt action in securing the ship.

Source: Personal recollection of Anthony Fletcher


J K T Paisley

England, East Coast


Scotland, East Coast.


Thames Estuary; Approaches to Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Firth of Forth.

Approaches to Ostend.


J S N Pryor

H R Hatfield

England, East Coast.

Thames Estuary; Skegness to Blakeney.


H R Hatfield

England, East Coast

Scotland, North Coast.

Skegness to Blakeney.





Extended refit all year


C J de C Scott

England, South Coast.

Scotland, West Coast

Sandown Bay.

Loch Carnan; Firth of Lorne.


D P D Scott

Scotland, West Coast.

Bristol Channel.

Sound of Harris; Gareloch; Campbeltown Loch; Approaches to the Firth of Lorne.


Smith RNZN

Wales, North Coast.

Scotland, West Coast.

N. E. Approaches to the Menai Strait; Menai Strait.

Vidal Bank; Sound of Iona.


J C E White

Scotland, West Coast.

Inner Sound; Sound of Harris; Sound of Iona; Bute Sound to Holy Loch.


R A G Nesbitt

England, South Coast.

Bristol Channel.

Scotland, West Coast.

England, West Coast.

Channel Islands.


Watchet to Hinkley Point.

Approaches to Firth of Lorne.

Barrow Channel.

The Swinge.


R A G Nesbitt

England, East Coast.

Bristol Channel.


Scotland, West Coast.

Channel Islands.

Approaches to Tynemouth.

Avonmouth to Sharpness; Approaches to Watchet; Watchet to Weston.

Sound of Jura; Firth of Clyde, Bute Sound.

N Approaches to Alderney.

Paid Off. Scrapped November 1965.


HMS Sharpshooter surveying
HMS Sharpshooter (Oliver Johnson)

1948 - 1965

When SHARPSHOOTER completed her Far East survey duties she returned to the UK in 1948 for Home Waters surveying.

HMS Sharpshooter crew in GrimsbyHMS Sharpshooter - unloading the jeep at Grimsby
Happy to be home again in Grimsby, unloading the jeep
Source: Steve Prigmore

HMS Sharpshooter - refit at Chatham  HMS Sharpshooter - refit at Chatham

HMS Sharpshooter - Refit at Chatham
Source: Steve Prigmore

On 9th Jan 1951 she was at Chatham for repairs.

Coronation Review at Spithead 1953 HMS Sharpshooter HMS Scott

On 15th June 1953 she took part in the Coronation Review of the Fleet at Spithead along with HMS Scott. (Click on Plan to enlarge)

On 1st July 1953, she was renamed SHACKLETON - a more appropriate name for a survey ship. On 18th Feb 1958 her propeller was damaged by hitting the dockside at Sheerness and on 28th October that year she grounded in the Bristol Channel, damaging the Asdic dome. 

Source: EXTRACTS from:  Charts and Surveys in Peace and War – The History of the RN Hydrographic Service 1919 – 1970 by Rear Admiral R O Morris CB

HMS Sharpshooter Chatham Jan 1950

I particularly like my photo of the ship taken in Chatham Dockyard Jan 1950 (above). We had just left the dry dock after a bottom scrape. Most of the crew were on seasonal leave. I spent Xmas aboard, the treat for Xmas dinner was a rabbit with all the trimmings served up by our Irish cook.

The ship was working off the East Coast in 'E Boat Alley' surveying for dangerous wrecks from Harwich to Tynemouth. We mostly put in at weekends to Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Grimsby and North Shields. We did once put in to Dover.

I only served about nine months on the ship before being drafted into Chatham as a 'Foreign Spare'. As a first draft I look back on the experience as a very happy one. The discipline of a small ship, the company and the lessons learned stood me in good stead in my later life.

Arthur Barrs

HMS Sharpshooter looking aft Arthur Barrs on HMS Sharpshooter

Photo's (above) taken in Chatham Dockyard after dry-dock for cleaning January 1950.
Looking aft along starboard side and Ordinary Telegraphist Arthur Barrs by signal lamp.

Source: Arthur Barrs

Sharpshooter on East Coast   Source: Arthur Barrs

HMS Shackleton
HMS Shackleton

Early in 1961 Irving turned the thoughts of his staff towards the replacement of Scott and SHACKLETON, both well over 20 years old. 

HMS SHACKLETON was almost beyond further nursing along. She soldiered on until 1962, when she ended her surveying season and entered Devonport with the Hydrographer embarked on 9 November 1962 to pay off for disposal. 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 Shackleton Survey Ship (ex HMS Sharpshooter)
HMS Shackleton

HMS Shackleton 15th Oct 1961
HMS Shackleton 15th Oct 1961

HMS Shackleton
HMS Shackleton at Lowestoft

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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012