Hard luck minesweeper
In the 1950s, with mines being a big deal in opening stages of the Korean War, the possibility of the next naval war coming complete with thousands of Soviet M08 seamines, plus with a lingering half million unrecovered WWII era (and some even earlier WWI era) mines still unaccounted for in the waters that HMs ships sailed, the UK embarked on a new construction program of aluminium-framed, wooden planked hulled with non-magnetic fittings (easy to degauss) ocean-going sweepers– the Ton-class.
In all some 119 of these handy and versatile little 152-foot long ships were commissioned, serving not only in the RN but over 30 units went on to the navies of Argentina, Australia, India, Ireland, Malaysia, NZ, and South Africa. They did yeoman work both as MCM craft and as generic patrol boats and auxiliaries.
One, HMS Packington, gained immortality as “R/V Belafonte” in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which is appropriate as Cousteau ‘s Calypso was a 136-foot YMS-1 sweeper herself.
While Packington is still around as a luxury yacht in the Persian Gulf, the rest of the Tons have largely been Deep Six’d or sent to the breakers.
Except for HMS Bronington (M1115), whom seems to be cracking a bit of a sad lately.
A historic minesweeper formerly belonging to the Royal Navy has sunk while moored at Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead, England where it has been laid up for years.
The Bronington, one of the last vessels in the Royal Navy’s Ton-class, was discovered to have sank sometime between Thursday and Friday.
A witness told gCaptain on Friday that he last saw the vessel afloat Tuesday, but by Friday the ship had partially sank next to the dock in an upright position and was starting to roll onto its side.
The HMS Bronington was launched for the Royal Navy by Cook, Welton, and Gemmel shipbuilders in Yorkshire, England in 1953 and remained in active service until 1988. In 1989 the vessel was purchased by the Bronington Trust, a charity dedicated to her preservation and display to the public. The minesweeper was brought to Salford Quays and later opened to the public in 1992, but ownership eventually transferred to Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and the ship has been been laid up at Vittoria Docks since 2011.
Images via Phil Owen of PBRStreetgang who seems to be keeping a running tab on the old girl.
Hopefully, jaguar shark will not be an issue in her recovery.