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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS ABINGDON (N 23) - Old Hunt-class Minesweeper

HMS Selkirk, sister-ship (Photo Ships, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

Later HUNT-Class coal burning minesweeper ordered from Ailsa Shipbuilders at Troon in 1917 and laid down on 30 November that year. The ship was launched on 11th June 1918 and was the first Royal Navy ship to carry this name. Her build was completed 0n 6th November 1918. Deployed for in the Mediterranean and Black Sea for post-war war minesweeping she was then reduced to Reserve status and laid-up in Malta. she was transferred to  the China Station and commissioned for passage to Singapore where she again Paid-off and was laid-up again in Singapore during April 1937. She recommissioned in 1939 at Singapore and later served with distinction in the Mediterranean as outlined below.  Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign February 1942 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r

 None is recorded

(Note: This seems incredible and is to be checked)


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

No details of a Badge are recorded in the Official Record but an unofficial Badge may have been used..



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 3 9


August                   Laid-up in Reserve at Singapore.

          28th               Commissioned for service at Singapore.


September              Carried out trials and prepared for war service at Singapore as Senior Officer

                                 Minesweepers ship.

                                 (Note: Sister ships HMS ABERDARE, BAGSHOT, DERBY, FAREHAM,

                                            HARROW, HUNTLEY and WIDNES, also laid-up at Singapore were also

                                            prepared for war service and except WIDNES commissioned later.)

October                   Deployed at Singapore.

to December           Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean Station.


1 9 4 0


January                   Deployed at Singapore

to April


May                        Passage to Alexandria. Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to J23.

to June                    (Note:  As this ship was a Coal Burner this passage would require careful planning

                                            and may have involved coaling at sea in the Indian Ocean from a Collier.)


July                         Under repair at Alexandria.

                                (Note: This suggests an accumulation of defects during passage.)


August                    Passage to Malta to join HMS FERMOY for minesweeping duties


September               (Note: Italian minelaying commenced and need for minesweeping became vital to

                                            ensure safe passage of traffic.)

                                 Deployed with HMS FERMOY for minesweeping to clear minelay NE of Malta.

October                   Minesweeping south of Malta with HMS FERMOY to clear Italian field recently laid.

          23rd               Total of 10 mines dealt with.)


November                Minesweeping in continuation with HMS FERMOY during which eight mines were


                                  (Note: This Class of minesweeper was only capable of dealing with conventional

                                              moored mines as were destroyers fitted for minesweeping which were also

                                              deployed off Malta.


December                 Minesweeping with HMS FERMOY in continuation.

                                  (Note: Several enemy mines which had broken their mooring were washed ashore

                                               and dealt with by Shore disposal units.)


1 9 4 1


January                     Minesweeping with HMS FERMOY to ensure clear approach channels available in

                                  and out of Grand Harbour.


February                   First lay of acoustic and magnetic mines by German aircraft.

                                   (Note: Other craft were requisitioned and fitted with suitable equipment and

                                               the two Fleet Minesweepers to continue dealing with contact moored


                                  Minesweeping operations with HMS FERMOY in continuation off Malta.


March                       During continuation operations under constant air attacks from which no damage

                                  was sustained.


April                          Air attacks during operations continued.

          10th                 Acoustic mine detonated during sweep  and HMS FERMOY sustained damage in

                                  an air attack.

          11th                 Awaiting repair by HM Dockyard Malta

                                   Under repair.


May                           Under repair

                                   (Note: HMS FERMOY also under repair after damage in air attack on 30th April

                                               sustained a direct hit whilst in dry dock in Malta and was damaged beyond


                                   The only Fleet Minesweeper available in Malta but under repair.


June                           Resumed minesweeping duties.

                                   (Note Three trawlers were requisitioned in Malt and fitted with Oropesa type

                                            minesweeping equipment to assist in clearance of moored mines.


July                            Minesweeping operations assisted by requisitioned craft.

to November             (Note: Acoustic and magnetic minesweeping was carried out by other

                                               requisitioned craft including tugs and drifters as well as HM Corvette

                                               GLOXINIA which was fitted for minesweeping.)



          21st                 During minesweeping operation with three converted craft swept four mines.

          30th                 Under attack by Ju88 aircraft one of which was damaged by return fire off St. Elmo.

          31st                 Under attack by Me109 aircraft and sustained damage with some casualties.


1 9 4 2


January                     Deployed for Night Minesweeping operations.

                                  (Note: This decision by Flag Officer Malta had been made because of the

                                               continual air attacks on minesweepers.)

28th                          Taken in hand for repair and installation of 20mm Oerlikon guns to increase

                                  defence against Close Range air attacks.


February                   Resumed minesweeping operations off Malta on completion of dockyard work.


March                        Night operations in continuation with other converted craft


April                          Air attacks on Malta dockyard area intensified.

               1st               Sustained damage in air attack.

               2nd              Awaiting dockyard repair in dockyard area.

               4th               Sustained further damage whilst in Kalkara Creek after two near misses

                                   Ship’s back broken and vessel beached in Bighi Bay pending survey.

                                   Declared Constructive Total Loss on Survey


P o s t   W a r   N o t e


No Fleet Minesweepers were available in Malta until June 1942 when HM Minesweepers HEBE, SPEEDY, HYTHE and RYE arrived in Malta with HARPOON relief convoy and replaced the two vintage warships which had carried the burden with gallantry since 1940. The conduct of the two HUNT Class Minesweepers was recognised by Flag Officer Malta in a signal of praise to CinC Mediterranean Fleet in January 1942. After the end of WW2 the hulk was placed on the Disposal List and was broken-up in situ during 1950.


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