HMS SPANKER (J 226) - Algerine-class Fleet Minesweeper

ALGERINE-Class Fleet Minesweeper fitted with Turbine propulsion machinery ordered on 15th November 1940 from Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Laid down on 22nd September 1042 at the same time as sister ships RINALDO, and ROSARIO. The ship was launched on 30th April 1943 as the fourth RN ship to carry this name, introduced in 1794 for a Floating Battery built at Deptford which was sold in 1810. A Torpedo Gunboat built by HM Dockyard, Devonport in 1889 and converted for use as a minesweeper in 1909 was the last ship to bear this name and was sold in 1920. This minesweeper was completed on 20th August 1943.and had been adopted by the civil community of Stalybridge, Cheshire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign held in March 1942.

B a t t l e H o n o u r s

SOUTH FRANCE 1944

H e r a l d i c D a t a

Badge: On a field Blue the reverse of a spade guinea Gold.

D e t a i l s o f W a r S e r v i c e

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search

1 9 4 3

August

Contractors trials and commissioned for service in 19th Minesweeping Flotilla

20th

Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

On completion took passage to Tobermory to work-up for operational service.

September

Deployed in Firth of Forth based at Port Edgar for minesweeping training.

October

Passage to Kyle of Lochalsh to join ships of Flotilla for minesweeping and Flotilla operations with HM Minesweepers RINALDO, BRAVE, WATERWITCH and ROSARIO forming the 19th Minesweeping Flotilla

November

Nominated for foreign service with ships of Flotilla and took passage from Clyde to Milford Haven.

Part of escort with ships of Flotilla, for Convoy KX12 during passage from Milford Haven to Gibraltar

(Note: Convoy comprised two mercantiles and eight smaller minesweepers and a coal burning trawler which limited speed of convoy to 6 knots and produced sufficient smoke to be a constant source of danger !)

December

Detached from Flotilla and nominated for convoy escort duties in Western Mediterranean..

(Note: HMS RINALDO, HMS BRAVE and HMS WATERWITCH sailed for Malta.)

Passage to Algiers from Gibraltar.

On arrival taken in hand for machinery repair.

1 9 4 4

January

On completion of repair work took passage to Malta to rejoin Flotilla.

17th

Involved in collision with trawler during arrival in Malta and sustained damage.

(Note: This prevented the ship taking part in minesweeping support of the landings at Anzio (Operation SHINGLE) with other ships of the Flotilla.)

February

On completion of repair deployed for minesweeping off Malta.

(Note: Other ships in Flotilla deployed at Anzio returned to Malta.)

March

Malta deployment in continuation.

April

Nominated for minesweeping duties off west coast of Italy with 12th Minesweeping Flotilla.

(Note: Ships of 19th Flotilla were detached during March and relieved periodically.)

HM Minesweepers ARIES, ANTARES and ARCTURUS, of this Class, built in Canada had joined Flotilla in Malta and transferred for this purpose.)

Deployed for minesweeping off Malta

5th

Passage to Naples for detached service with 12th Minesweeping Flotilla.

Relieved HMS BRAVE and HMS WATERWITCH in detached minesweeping duty off west coast

May

Detached service at Naples with HMS ROSARIO in continuation.

(Note: HMS ROSARIO had joined on 26th April.)

Transferred to rejoin Flotilla and took passage to Maddalena.

June

Deployed for minesweeping operations with Flotilla in Strait of Bonifacio.

(Note: When German forces left Sardinia they had laid mines indiscriminately and these waters were to be cleared before planned landing operations in South France were commenced.)

Lost anchor and cable in Aranci Bay.

16th

Deployed with Flotilla to carry out minesweep in advance of ships on passage to carry out landings on island of Elba (Operation BRASSARD). 40 mines were swept.

(Note: This clearance enabled bombardment of shore positions to be carried out by HM River Gunboats APHIS, COCKCHAFER and SCARAB.)

On release from BRASSARD took passage with Flotilla to resume minesweeping operations off west coast of Italy.

July

Deployed with Flotilla in joint minesweeping operations off Civitavecchia to clear a channel north of Cape Corso (Operation LOBSTER)

(Note: Ships of 12th and 13th Minesweeping Flotilla also took part.)

18th

On completion of LOBSTER continued west coast deployment for clearance of passage towards Leghorn.

August

Returned to Naples with ships of Flotilla to prepare for planned allied landings in South France (Operation DRAGOON formerly ANVIL)

(Note: Royal Navy ships were under overall command of Vice Admiral HK Hewett US Navy. This ship was allocated to DELTA Attack Force under command of Rear Admiral Rodgers, US Navy to whom Commander CH Corbet-Singleton, Royal Navy as Senior Officer 19th Minesweeping Flotilla in HMS RINALDO was responsible.)

12th

Deployed with HM Minesweepers RINALDO, ANTARES, ARCTURUS, ROSARIO, BRAVE and five US Navy Patrol Craft as escort for military convoy SF2A (DELTA) during passage to assault area.

(Note: Convoy comprised three Landing Ships (Infantry).)

13th

Called at Ajaccio with SF2A

14th

Sailed with convoy from Ajaccio as escort to St Tropez for landings.

15th

Detached from escort with ships of Flotilla to carry out minesweep in advance of assault convoy. No mines were swept. On completion of swept channel work cleared area to be used for naval gunfire support.

(Note: Ships assigned to DELTA area for gunfire support included: US battleships USS TEXAS and USS NEVADA, US cruiser PHILADELPHIA, French Cruisers GEORGES LEYGUES and MONTCALM)

(For details of Operation DRAGOON See INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (HMSO) and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett).

18th

Transferred from command of Task Force Commander to Task Group 80.12 ton carry out programme of minesweeping.

19th

Deployed for minesweeping off assault area with ships of Task Unit.

(Note: During this period mine clearance was carried out to enable ports at Toulon and Marseilles to be used. Both German and French mines had been laid in these areas

22nd

Entered harbour at Porquello Island and accepted surrender of German garrison after which the island was taken over by forces from US cruiser USS OMAHA.

24th

Minesweeping with Flotilla to clear entrance to ports of Toulon and Marseilles in continuation.

September

Task Unit minesweeping operations deployment in continuation.

(Note: Extensive mining had been carried out by Germany and France during the period before DRAGOON.)

4th

Flotilla released from service with US Navy and took passage to Malta.

15th

Resumed service under RN administration after R&R Period

(Note: Some ships of Flotilla were then deployed at Taranto for minesweeping and convoy escort)

october

Deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping in Gulf of Taranto.

2nd

Detached with HMS RINALDO and HMS BRAVE for minesweeping at Ancona on NE coast of Adriatic south of Rimini.

12th

Deployed off Ancona during which many mines were encountered and dealt with.

November

Transferred to carry out mine clearance off Split.

11th

Deployed with HMS RINALDO, HMS ARCTURUS, HMS ANTARES and HMS BRAVE in advance of HM Cruiser DELHI to clear passage through islands off Split. On completion based at Split for further mine clearance and night interception patrols to prevent enemy minelaying or other E- Boat activities.

(Note: During one patrol ship opened fire against suspected ship target but none was sighted when starshell round fired from main armament.)

December

Completed clearance of mines at eastern end of channel into Split.

(Note: In nine weeks the Flotilla swept 214 mines including 15 moored Magnetic mines and some new German type OBOE which were designed to explode when surfacing after being cut from mooring wire, thus inflicting damage on following minesweeper.)

Returned to Ancona for Xmas.

1 9 4 5

January to March

Adriatic deployment in continuation.

Took part in Operation ANTAGONIZE III for mine clearance in southern Adriatic.

(Note: During this operation HMS ANTARES struck a mine and had to be withdrawn from Flotilla for repair. Her replacement HMS FANCY joined in March.)

April

Minesweeping in Channel towards Taranto in continuation.

Arrived at Ancona on completion.

Passage with ships of Flotilla for joint operation to provide clear passage for shipping through Adriatic to Trieste and Genoa.

(Note Flotilla nominated for clearance of passage to Trieste.)

May

1st

Commenced sweep with Flotilla.

12th

Entrance to Trieste cleared. 77 mine were swept.

(Notes: Ships returned individually to Ancona for R&R during this operation.)

June

2nd

Deployed in Northern Adriatic with HM Minesweepers ARIES, ARCTURUS, FANCYWATERWITCH and ROSARIO to widen existing swept channel into Porto Malamocca.

(Note: During this period minesweeping was assisted by US dirigibles which provided surveillance ahead of the minesweepers.) HMS ARCTURUS detonated a mine and withdrawn for repair to major damage. 116 mines were cut and 27 exploded in sweeps in last week.

July

Deployed for minesweeping at Trieste with Flotilla

(Note: HMS ARIES exploded a mine caught in the sweep which caused extensivedamage to the stern structure with four fatal casualties

P o s t W a r N o t e s

HMS SPANKER remained in the Mediterranean area for mine clearance in the Adriatic and later was deployed off Malta and in the Aegean until returning to UK in May 1946 with ships of the Flotilla. After giving leave she was transferred to Cuxhaven, Germany for local mine clearance until December when she went Port Edgar, near Rosyth for minesweeping training. Paid-off in December 1947 she was laid-up at Port Edgar until placed on the Sales List and sold to Belgium in 1952. After a refit in Hull between June 1952 and February 1953 she was renamed DE BROUWER on 25th February and served in the Royal Belgian Navy until 1963 when removed from the Active List. The ship was sold and broken-up in Ghent in 1968.

For more about Algerine-class Minesweepers, see http://www.minesweepers.org.uk/index.htm

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