Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Franklin

Franklin Pre War
Franklin 1939
Franklin 1940
Franklin 1941
Franklin 1942
Franklin 1943
Franklin 1944
Franklin 1945
Franklin Post War
Franklin Crew


HMS Franklin - Halcyon Class Survey Ship
HMS Franklin

Summary of History

HMS FRANKLIN (J84) was one of four new ships based on the Halcyon design which were to be used for survey work. Of these, two (FRANKLIN and Scott) were designed for surveying and two (Jason and Gleaner) were primarily designed as minesweepers. A large chartroom was built at the after end of the forecastle deck and the bridge was enlarged.

HMS FRANKLIN spent the war as a survey ship. She started her service in 1938 surveying the Goodwin Sands and The Downs. In 1939 she carried out surveys in the Thames Estuary until, in June, she sailed for Newfoundland, Canada to carry out a survey of St. Lewis Inlet to facilitate timber extraction. On 23rd August she hurried home unescorted to her war station at Dover, where FRANKLIN was required to provide the control for the laying of the Channel Mine Barrage.

In December 1939 FRANKLIN went to the east coast, and was employed there locating wrecks of ships sunk, sounding diversionary channels, and assisting minesweepers until February 1940. Following refit she sailed to Scapa 'with all possible despatch' and for the rest of the year she made surveys in Scapa Flow to help blocking operations, at Dundee for the submarine base there, and at Skaalefjord in the Faeroes for its use as a fleet anchorage. She was also involved in the very large scale surveys for positioning the Maunsell pre‑fabricated forts in the Thames Estuary for the anti aircraft defence of London.

On 19th November 1940 off Gt Yarmouth she was straddled by 6 bombs from a Ju88, the nearest exploding 30 ft to port. She was subsequently further damaged in a gale and sailed for repairs in London which took three months, the crew doing firewatch duty during the bombing of the docks from the roof of the Port Authority building.

In March 1941she again sailed for the east coast, receiving some damage from the tug Zirda requiring another two weeks of repairs. On 14th May 1941 she was attacked by aircraft (a regular occurrence on the east coast) and was damaged by four near misses and by two more on the 3rd June 1941 in the North Sea; repaired on Humber 4th-13th June 1941. Between her surveying tasks, or when moving from one to the next, FRANKLIN was often called upon to act as a convoy escort. In July 1941 this was nearly her end when leading a convoy she met a southbound one head one. She herself was first overrun by her own convoy commodore's ship which scraped up her port side, and immediately afterwards had her starboard side savaged by one of the opposing convoy. The upper deck was damaged and was repaired at Aberdeen 14th July - 23rd August 1941. She spent most of the rest of 1941 in Scottish waters before sailing to Harwich for boiler cleaning and repairs.

HMS FRANKLIN spent 1942 on the east coast carrying out surveys (Thames Estuary  Maunsell fort sites; Dudgeon Channel; River Swale; East Coast War Route wrecks - sounding alternative routes for convoys). Similarly in 1943 she carried out surveys of the River Colne; The Wash, Docking Channel. The River Tay; Dornoch Firth and Invergordon.

In 1944 she surveyed Scapa Flow (radar triangulation) and the Firth of Forth before taking part in the Normandy Landings. Franklin, under Irving, was held in reserve at the Nore during the assault, and would then support the detailed survey of the site for the Arromanches Mulberry and follow up with port surveys to the east, hopefully culminating in opening Le Havre. She relieved her sister survey ship, HMS Scott, off Arromanches and was the first large ship to (cautiously) enter Cherbourg harbour where she located wrecks and supported smaller craft which were clearing mines.

FRANKLIN, after completing a detailed survey of Cherbourg, moved east to Dieppe. While there Le Havre fell, and a 16‑foot motor skiff was sent by road to start the reconnaissance. This soon met a short hostile reception from a pocket of German resistance on the South breakwater. FRANKLIN herself, with ML 1001, entered the port early in September despite some reservations on the part of the minesweeping authorities A detailed survey occupied four weeks, during which mining was a constant worry. The ship also acted as British Senior Officer Afloat, and provided provisions, fuel and water to many British auxiliary craft as well as helping put right their mechanical defects.

In October FRANKLIN had moved further east, to Ostend. It was of the utmost importance that the port of Antwerp be opened. Passage up the Schelde was blocked by enemy forces still holding the east bank. FRANKLIN sent a motor boat and her crew by tank transporter to Ghent, and they made their way by canal thence to Terneuzen to start the survey of the upper Schelde and the port before ships or craft could reach the higher reaches from the sea. The full survey was completed by 14 December, but before that, on 28 November 1944, FRANKLIN's crew had the satisfaction of seeing the first laden Liberty ship convoy proceed upriver to unload. General Montgomery himself subsequently visited the ship to thank her and her company for their work.

Just before his tragic death in an air crash in January 1945 Admiral Ramsay, ANCXF, wrote personally to Edgell to thank the Hydrographic Service for its part in NEPTUNE and OVERLORD It is not too much to say that without the work of the surveyors and the cartographers the invasion could not have taken place, much less been the overwhelming success that it was.

Following a refit at the beginning of 1945 FRANKLIN sailed from Sheerness for Cuxhaven on 19 May 1945. She carried out wreck clearance surveys there, and at Hamburg, Heligoland, Kiel, Lubeck and Travemunde, as well as fixing navigational buoys in the Baltic. She returned to Sheerness in October 1945. She spent the rest of her career mainly surveying the east coast of England until Jan 1953 when she was paid off to Reserve at Chatham. In 1956 she was broken up by Clayton and Davie, Dunston on Tyne.

See also www.naval-history.net

This unusual memento of Franklin's service around Holland and Germany, typed onto a German Navy (Kriegsmarine) sports vest eagle, was sent by David Bloor who would be interested to hear from anyone who knows of its origins (contact via webmaster).

In December 2007 I received the following message from Michael Shand:

My father William Shand was a RT on Franklin, he has one of these eagles, they were sent ashore at Bremmerhaven to loot the E-boat pens, and typed out on typewriters liberated from the same
source, they were then dished out as souvenirs. One of the officers took a large yacht, which was then crewed by men from the Franklin and sent back across the channel.


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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012