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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS OWEN  - ex-Loch-class Frigate,  Survey Ship

HMS Owen (Photo Ships, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

 Introduction to Summary of Service 1949 to 1965


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



The enclosed details are primarily based upon the Reports Proceedings and also details from documents in the Naval Historical Branch, Ministry of Defence. Acknowledgment is made to the Keeper of Public Records, Public Records Office who arranged for access to the Reports held in Taunton at the Hydrographic Office.


Whilst the information contained in  this Summary  is not intended to be completely comprehensive it sets out to be be representative of the career of this  ship during her deployment on hydrographic survey duties. Some place names may not be those in current use.


OWEN spent most of her service in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, but her greatest contributions may have been made in the Antarctic Area in 1961.



H.  M.  S.   O W E N   ( A 3 1 1 )



Original build order placed with Hall Russell at Aberdeen on 2nd May 1943 for an Anti-submarine Frigate to be named HMS LOCH MUICK (i). Laid down on 30th September 1944 but the name was changed in 1944 and the ship was launched as  HMS THURSO BAY as the ship build specification had been changed to suit use as an Anti-aircraft Frigate. The contract was suspended and the ship was laid-up in the build yard pending a decision on future requirements. In September 1947 it was announced that she was to be completed for use as a Survey Ship by HM Dockyard Chatham as part of the 1947/48 Build Programme. After tow to Chatham conversion work began early in 1948 and on 15th September 1947 she was re-named HMS OWEN. Build was completed on 23rd September 1949.


Notes on conversion


Extensive alterations were made during the period ship was at Chatham. These included:

      Provision of additional accommodation needed for chart preparation.

      Fitting of additional facilities for stowage and handling of survey launches.

      Installation of Radar equipment suitable for survey work instead of Type 293 used in AA Frigates.

      Enhanced arrangements on quarterdeck for dealing with sweeping and measuring gear essential for survey work.

      No armament was provided as conventional for survey ships.


In common with the other four Ex LOCH Class frigate hulls converted into survey ships the name chosen was that of a notable British hydrographer. William Fitzwilliam Owen (1775 - 1858) who began his survey work after active service including The Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. He is particularly known for his surveys in both Canadian and West African waters.


Manning Division:


Chatham till centralised.


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field barry wavy of 8 white and blue. A stag's head erased White,

the antlers Red, gorged with a Naval Crown gold.


S u m m a r y   o f   S e r v i c e


First Commission 1949 - 50.

Commissioned: 2nd August 1949

Commanding Officer: Commander H Menzies  (Appointed 25th July 1949)

(Promoted Captain from 31/12/49)


Accepted into service on 22 August 1949

(Note: Complement of 11 Officers and 147 ratings.)

Inspected by The Hydrographer of the Navy on 21st September 1949 after trials defects rectified.

Work-up included search for obstructions in Sound of Barra instead of planned St. Kilda survey (September).


Passage to Persian Gulf (October - November)


Towed MFV 1513 for transfer to Iranian Navy at Khorramsha

Carried out  Small survey task in Bay of Biscay.

(Note: Weather conditions reduced speed of tow.

            MFV was damaged at Aden during transfer from tug  before departure for Persian Gulf

            MFV repair delayed departure (December).


First Persian Gulf Survey (January - March 1950)


Joined HMS DALRYMPLE in northern Gulf and approaches to Sitra, Bahrein (January - March 1950)

Detached party with Jeep vehicles landed by raft at Dohar.

Tide-watching camp established at Jezirat Fuwairat.

(Note: Social exchanges at Dohar including 'mutton grab' with Sheik of Qatar)

Passage to Mediterranean (April - May)

Embarked Area Superintendent of the Imperial War British Graves Commission War at Basra and an RAF Party

for visit to Socotra (May).

(Note: The Cemetery on the island had been despoiled by Aden(?) and remains had to be transferred to Aden in

            six coffins for re-interment.)


Mediterranean (May - October)


Morphon Bay RAF Bombing Range, North coast of Cyprus.

(Note: Stoker died in hospital after fall ashore and was buried locally (August) )

Refit in Malta (August - September).

Completion delayed by machinery defects - shaft wear.

Annual Inspection before departure.


Passage to Persian Gulf (November)


Carried out Oceanographic observations South of Crete  (November)


Persian Gulf in continuation (January - April).


Resumed survey off Bahrain December 1950 - February 1951)

 At Basra for Christmas.

Board of Inquiry at Bahrain into death of Telegraphist found hanging in compartment on board (Apri|D


Passage to Eastern Mediterranean (April - May)


Called at Sharjah and Aden

(Note: Boiler defect at Aden  restricted speed to 10 knots until further examination in Malta


Mediterranean continuation (May - June).


Survey and clearance of wrecks and other wartime obstructions in Tripoli and Tobruk harbours to facilitate use

for supply of UK and US bases in North Africa

At Malta for boiler examination (May)


Passage to UK to refit at Sheerness  and re-commission (July)


Carried out Sounding work between Pantellaria - Malta and later off  Ushant.


Second Commission 1951 - 53

Commissioned:  September 1951

Commanding Officer: Commander CRK Roe, DSC, RN   (/10/51)


Passage to Persian Gulf (November).


Magnetic Variation readings recorded off Cape Bon.

Embarked passengers in Malta for Port Said

Carried out  Soundings work and Shoal Examinations in

          Strait of Gubal in Suez Canal

          NW of Jebel Arrail in Red Sea (November)

          Between Aden - Bahrain.


Persian Gulf continuation (December 1951 - March 1952)


Surveyed Jezirat Daiyinah and Jazirat Ardhana areas.

Discussed future joint activities with HMS DALRYMPLE on arrival at Bahrain

Survey carried out in area south of Qatar including Daz Island.

Tidal party landed at Daz Island.

(Note: Petty Officer evacuated to UK for medical attention after serious accident whilst operating

           winch to hoist survey motor boat (December).

Christmas at Basra with HM Sloop WILD GOOSE with Senior Naval Officer Persian Gulf  embarked).

Despite Shamal and other adverse weather conditions planned work completed by both Survey Ships.

Detached parties landed at Arzanah and Zarqua.

Triangulation areas used by both ships.


Passage to Mediterranean (April - May)


Shoal fixed at Peshwa, Port Sudan and new reef found.

Carried out survey of NE approaches to Port Sudan.

Detached party landed for triangulation work for continuation of work at Gubal.


Mediterranean continuation (May - July)


Obstruction sweeping carried out in Tobruk Harbour in conjunction with Italian Salvage company.

(Note: 80 wrecks found.

            HM Boom Defence Vessel BARKELL was also engaged in removal work.

Detached party landed for local survey.

Ship sounding carried out in approaches to Benghazi.

Tripoli harbour entrance including least depth measurement of wrecks

Mark erected on Fifla Firing Range for Position fixing after refit.


Refit and Docking Period in Malta (July - August 1952).


Detached parties had been left in Suez area and near Aqaba.

Carried out anti-submarine trials with HM Submarine (TOKEN)

Annual Inspection (September)


Passage to Persian Gulf (October)


Carried out Gravity survey off Malta with Cambridge University Scientists embarked.

Tobruk area work continuation including sweep of area and visit by HM King Idris.

Soundings work and survey at Gubal continued.

Recovered Aqaba and Fayid parties Shoal examination in Gulf of Qnan.


Persian Gulf continuation (November 1952 - March 1953)


Joined HMS DALRYMPLE for combined task in Daiyanah and Aldanah areas.

(Note: Weather prevented boat work. East of Qatar in area Aldhana to Yaz )

Tidal party at Kial Bazri.

Overlap of survey work established.

Christmas at Basrah with HM Sloop WILD GOOSE (SNOPG).

At Bahrain for CinC East Indies visit in HM Cruiser CEYLON (January 1953)

Triangulation work repeated with DALRYMPLE and visits paid to local ports.

(Note: During this period increase in loss of Marks by theft was noted).

Visited Umm Said and embarked Political Resident for return to Bahrain

Took part in Demonstration for Trucial Coast rulers with HMS CEYLON and HMS WILD GOOSE.

(Note: Weather conditions prevented RAF participation.

Tidal Party rescued dhow crew (February)

Visited Basrah on completion of planned work


Passage to Mediterranean (April - May)


Escorted ss HUMPHREY GALE (on Charter to British Army) to to Bahrain

Carried out Soundings work off Perim and Zuquair Island at at Suez during passage from Bahrain.

and later in Red Sea,


Mediterranean in continuation (May - June).


Carried out survey work North coast of Cyprus and soundings SW of Paphos.

Landed detached party with Jeeps at Famagusta.

Attended Coronation Day celebrations at Kyrenia with ‘Open Day’ and Floodlighting.

Completed section to Cape Plakoti

Carried out Repeat sweep of obstructions at Tobruk

Co-ordinates of Fifla Island established for future use as Firing Range.


Passage to UK for refit at Chatham and re-commissioning (July)


Magnetic observations and shoal made in Mediterranean.

Hydrographer embarked at Plymouth for final leg.

Passage to Chatham for refit.


Third Commission 1953 - 55

Re-commissioned: August 1953

Commanding Officer: Lieut. Cdr JTK Paisley (02/11/53)


Refit at Chatham (July - October).


Meeting with Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to discuss factors affecting surveying in Persian Gulf.

Completion delayed by machinery defects

(Note: Two deserters one of whom was apprehended.)

Carried out special radar trial using RACON radar Beacon in Thames Estuary during sea trials.


Passage to Persian Gulf (November - December)


Soundings recorded.

Annual inspection in Malta.

(Note: Soldiers embarked for passage to Canal Zone did not find the trip (or the daily rum issue) very attractive.)

Diverted to Port Sudan to land two suspected appendectomy cases.

Met HMS DALRYMPLE off Das Island for briefing.


Persian Gulf in continuation (December 1953 - March 1954)


Area covered - Creagh Shoal to Bu Tini in N. approaches to Bahrain.


Commanding Officer: Lieut. Commander HR Hatfield  (07/02/54

(Promoted Commander: 31/12/54)


Severe weather delayed establishment of Tide camp at Bu Tini

R&R at Umm Said.

Deployed for survey at Yaz and in Zirko area on completion.

(Note: Aerial reconnaissance by Captain in an RAF Anson aircraft nearly ended in disaster when wheel failed to

            lockdown prior to landing. (.March)

Took passage to Aden for Special Duty,

Royal Visit (April 1954)

Deployed as Guardship.

HM Cruiser NEWFOUNDLAND with CinC East Indies, Indian and Pakistani escort ships were also present. for

attendance when HM Queen Elizabeth II, embarked in ss GOTHIC visited the Colony whilst on world tour.

(Note: : High temperature of sea-water required careful operation of refrigeration plant.

            Firework display nearly ended in disaster when 'ready use' stock was ignited by 'rogue' firework.


Passage to Mediterranean (May)


Diverted to evacuate medical emergency from Esthers Lighthouse to Suez.

(Note: This received little recognition by Egyptian authorities.)


Mediterranean in continuation (May - October)


Towed Lighter to Famagusta

Deployed for survey off North coast of Cyprus (May - June)

Detached party landed to establish Cyprus - Turkish mainland link.

Some delays due to poor visibility.

Collected Army Survey Team at Fayid for land survey in isolated part of Canal Zone.

Shoal examination at Bir Odeid.

R&R with 42 Field Survey Regiment at their Fayid Base May).

Returned to Cyprus (June)

Took part in Queen's Birthday celebrations included ‘Open Days‘at Ayos Philos and Kyrenia.

(Note: Sporting and Regatta competitions.

             Events marred by disciplinary offence resulting in the subsequent Court Martial of an Officer who was then

             'dismissed his ship'.)

Sailing from Kyrenia delayed by sabotage of steering engine.


Refit and Fair Chart preparation at Malta (June - October)

Flag of FO Malta worn for 1 day on his arrival in Malta (August).

Ship fumigated.

Diverted during sea trial to search for wrecked WYVERN aircraft.


Commanding Officer: Lieut. Commander  JSN Pryor, RN    (09/10/54).

(Promoted Commander: 31/121/54)


Passage to Bahrein (November)


Carried out Magnetic and Oceanographic observations.

Called at Socotra for cow required by Government Experimental Farm at Bahrein

(Note: .Animal embarked from whaler and spent voyage on F'csle.

            This animal was required as a mate for a Socotran bull landed from HMS WILD GOOSE in 1954 and

            which would not mate with other breeds.

             Doctor landed and held clinic.

             Called at Salalah for fodder.

Spent three days at Sir Abu Nu 'Air island off Qatar to fix position prior to use as site for DECCA Navigator

System GREEN Slave Station.


Persian Gulf in continuation (November 1954 - March 1955)


Eastern Approaches to Bahrein and Sitra ship work commenced

Tide watching camp established at Sitra with use of MFV from Bahrein

Experimental Decca Chain under tested (December 1954 - January 1955)

DECCA receivers available on loan for use on board.

Christmas at Basra.

(Note: Petty Officer received serious injury to his right foot during operation of Taut Wire Measuring Equipment


            Emergency hospital attention was unable to prevent amputation.

            Board of Inquiry chaired by Senior Naval Officer Persian Gulf

Diverted to search for RAF Anson aircraft which had crashed in the area (18-21 January).

(Note: Position marked,

            No survivors found but two bodies recovered next day.)

            Wreckage located by A/S equipment and recovered.

Temporary repair to Port main engine defect restricted speed.

Carried out Hallul area survey.

DECCA Chain equipment used.

Special authority obtained to use Mercator Projection Charts. (February – Marclh)

Tidal parties landed at Hallul and Mabarras.

Shoal investigation by ship and boats.

Proposal to take part in visit by Turkish Navy to Bahrein cancelled

R&R periods in Abu Dhabi.

Work delayed by loss of Beacons due to thieving

(Note: Losses reported to Ruler and some later recovered.)

DECCA accuracy trials in Daz - Zarquar area completed.

(Note: Some interference by weather conditions noted. )

First use of Canteen in HMS JUFAIR at Bahrein for ships (April)


Passage to UK (April 1955)


Shoal examinations carried  out in Strait of Hormuz and off Spanish coast

Russian Floating Docks sighted travelling south in Red Sea.

Called at Fayid for meeting with RE Team carrying out land survey in Cyprus.

(Note: Fraudulent Plot uncovered.

           Possible attempt by unknown persons in Malta to defraud the Crown was foiled on arrival when Paymaster

           refused to hand over Egyptian money brought from Port Said as a result of receipt of signal purporting to be

           from CinC Mediterranean. This was found to be a deliberate deception.)

 Paid off in Chatham for refit and re-commissioning (May 1955)


Fourth Commission 1955 –56

Re-commissioned: May 1955

Commanding Officer: Lieut..Commander JSN Pryor, RN

(Promoted Commander: 30/6/55.)


Refit Period (May – September 1955)


Reception in HM Survey Ship VIDAL for Vice Admiral Day, Hydrographer of the Navy.

(Note: Tragic death by natural causes of Supply Officer on board.

             Some improvements to accommodation made by addition of new design kit lockers.

             Refit period extended to make good defects in Cold/Cool Room and repair of machinery defects found on



Passage to Persian Gulf (September – October)


Anchoring check off Deal and near miss with merchant ship.

Unsatisfactory incident with Police in Malta. and ship’ officer  left ashore to attend Court.

Annual Inspection in Malta.

Programme of soundings Between Port Said and Straits of Hormuz completed.

Unable to recover Starboard anchor when in Strait of Gubalin near Suez

(Note: Temporary replacement obtained at Aden).

Carried out Shoal investigation off Qnani coast as instructed.

Reinvestigation of Hormuz Shoal (Emmerdale) successful

(Note: Least depth established as nine fathoms).


Persian Gulf in continuation (October 1955 – February 1956)


South Persian Gulf surveys including Qatar area and Bahrein.

(Note: This was in view of anticipated increase in use of large oil tankers and construction of new jetty

           Khor Kaliya for use by RN frigates).

Dredged entrance channel swept and checked for visit by CinC East Indies in HM Cruiser GAMBIA.

Detached party left at Bahrain for local soundings work.

Survey between Creagh Shell and Bu Tini continued with detached party at Zarqa.

During visit to Abu Dhabi some of the Beacons stolen during previous work were returned

(Note: All Beacons in future to be marked with Notices in Arabic.)

             Social exchanges at Abu Dhabi.

Commenced sounding at new frigate berths at Khor Kaliyah prior to dredging.

At Basrah for Christmas period.

(Note: Tour of oilfields arranged.

            Delay experienced in return due to weather conditions.

Trucial Coast Islands coast-lining work (January – February).

Sketch survey Las Hat Islets – Khor Dhuwehin;and Jebel OdaidKhor Dhuwein completed.

Detached party left at Bahrein for tidal work and soundings.


Passage to UK (February – March 1956)


Calls made at Mukalla for brief local survey and medical visit to Socotra at same time.

Shoal Examinations off Aden and in Straits of Gubal.

Tobruk local survey task extended because of King Idris birthday celebrations.

Weather in SW approaches prevented embarkation of Hydrographer at Devonport for return to Chatham.


Home Waters Deployment (April – May)

6900 visitors on board during Chatham Navy Days.

DECCA Navigator System Receiver equipment (QM9)) fitted.

Fire in Officers Galley causing damage to equipment.

(Note: Deep Fat Fryer electrical power supply not isolated when galley staff left compartment.)

Carried out North Sea Wreck Survey and Clearance operations including Galloper Bank and North Foreland areas.

(Note: 20 sites nominated and 14 of the 24 listed wrecks were located and swept with five more not listed also located.

Week-end visits to Ostend and Margate.

During this period the ashes of an RNVR Commander were scattered off Burnham on Crouch, Essex.

A Trinity House representative was embarked for 3 week study of hydrographic survey practices.



Refit at Sheerness (June - September 1956)


Installation of 2 RANGE DECCA System.

(Note: Provision of this equipment considerably enhanced survey facilities available.

           It comprised a Master radio transmitting unit fitted on board with new permanent mast stepped at forward end

           of  quarterdeck.

           Additionally two portable Slave transmitter Stations were provided for use ashore during survey work.

           The equipment allowed measurements to be made when out of sight of land and more importantly in poor

            visibility when optical instruments cannot be used.

           During the refit period ships staff set up the two Slave Stations with their 100 ft masts on the Isle of Sheppey

           to become familiar with the system.

           A new design Echo Sounding Outfit (Kelvin Hughes MS2626J) was also fitted.

           Captain reported a very high standard of quality of work had been achieved by Sheerness Dockyard.


Fifth  Commission 1956- 51

Re-commissioned: July 1956

Commanding Officer: Commander GPD Hall, DSC, RN    (09/07/56)

(Later Rear Admiral, CB, DSC and Hydrographer 1971–70)


Completion delayed by repair to stern tube bearing bushes, damage to propeller during moves of ship and post refit

defects found during sea trials

Work completed on 30 August.

Carried out 2 Range DECCA system trials (31 August)

(Note: Equipment found to be satisfactory out to 90 miles from land.

            (Required standard being 70 miles).

Assisted dismasted Yacht NAIAD off Westcliffe (1 September)

Completed Calibration trials of GREEN Slave which had been transferred to Felixstowe. (13 September)


North Sea Survey (September)

Completed after delay due to generator defect at GREEN Slave 19 September)


Passage to West Africa (October)


Dr JDH Wiseman, MA PhD of British Museum embarked for trial of new design Core Sampling equipment.

Sailed from Plymouth on completion of D/F calibration.

(Note: Effect of new mast structure noted on operation of Direction Finding outfit (25 September)

Trials on 2 Range DECCA using special Slave Station at Stevenage held lock to nearly 400 miles.

New Echo Sounder equipment found unsatisfactory during initial use off Ushant but improved with experience

Winch defects caused delays in core sampling work in Iberian Basin.

(Note Undisturbed sample was obtained from over 2 mile depth and showed new design better than earlier 'Cambridge' type).

Oceanographic measurements recorded.

Under repair at Gibraltar.

Winch modifications improved its use for coring work.

Shoal examination carried out off Casablanca

Further sounding, water sampling and magnetic variation work carried out.

Search for peak or bank reported by Argentina not confirmed.


West African Coast Survey (October - December).


East coast Nigeria work carried out in conjunction with local survey authorities and Shell Company.

Calls at Freetown and Takoradi for liaison discussions.

(Note: Much press interest at Takoradi. )

Shore reconnaissance suggested landing of parties and tide watching may prove difficult

Helicopter assistance provided by Shell Company and special techniques devised for this work.

(Note This proved invaluable for transport inshore to support detached parties.)

Tide watching party landed at Akzi

Ship work began from western end..

Oceanic observations carried out for Nigerian Fisheries Department.


Tide watching party landed at Bonny. (November)

R&R at Lagos.

Provided facilities for crew of HM Trawler FOULNESS (Coal burning ISLES Class.) which was boiler cleaning at Takoradi.

Ship sounding with help from Nigerian Navy vessels.

Taut Wire measurement with Beacons and ship sounding made in Bonny River estuary( December)

Extensive soundings and Beacon work were less comprehensive than desired due to unreliability of local facilities,

 inclement weather and poor quality of exiting data.

(Note: Shell Company help was outstanding particularly with placing of Marks.)


Passage to Durban (December 1956)


Diverted to assist HMS FOULNESS (2nd time) by lending stores so the ship could proceed.

Magnetic variation survey not carried out.

Emergency diversion to Saldahana,


East African Waters Survey (January - April 1957)


Christmas at Durban after call at Cape Town.

Investigation of Shoals, Banks and Reefs in Mozambique Channel using radar with beacons.

New seamount discovered and core sample taken.

Discussed Pemba Island survey work at Zanzibar with local authorities.

Preliminary work established that complete survey would be needed as insufficient earlier data was available.

Extensive clearance work was required before sounding work could be started.

Four detached parties were in use with 3 boats.

Fuelling and R&R in Mombasa.

Hospitable welcome at Zanzibar with social exchanges.

Favourable weather assisted completion of planned tasks on schedule.

Shoal examinations and checks on Mozambique Channel work during return passage to Durban (March).


Passage to Monaco via Cape of Good Hope  (April).

Called at Durban and first all night leave given for 3 months.

(Note: Rough passage to Cape Town caused damage to boats and vehicle on deck.)

Magnetic distribution examinations made in Cape area.

Met whaling fleet and later collided with whale.

Searched for Desaix Shoal 60 miles SW of Freetown using radar and beacons.

Delineated 100 fathom line between Freetown and Cape Verde and carried out shoal examination off Cape Barbos.

Sighted Arend-Roland Comet off Canaries.

Unsuccessful sampling at Conception Bank

(Note: Cambridge-type corer lost.

Diverted to Barcelona for medical emergency - appendicitis case.


VII Quinquennial International Hydrographic Conference at Monaco (May)


Hydrographer of the Navy entertained delegates to lunch on board.

Social exchanges and ship floodlit.

Sea demonstration of Two Range Decca equipment, Track Plotter and Kelvin Hughes Echo Sounder.

(Note: 'Outward Bound’ parties landed for cycle trip to Genoa and on foot to Grasse.

            Visit judged a great success.


Passage to UK (May)


Admiralty Acceptance Trials of Kelvin Hughes Deep Echo Sounder Type MS26 J

Carried out planned shoal examinations: Majorca - Ibiza, NW Gettysburg Bank and N of Cape Finnistere.

 Core sampling in Iberian Basin not successful

Met at Chatham with RM Band in attendance.



Sixth Commission 1957- 59

Commissioned: 9 July 1957

Commanding Officer: Commander GPD Hall, DSC, RN (09/07/56)

Promoted Captain: 31/12/61)


Refit and fair chart preparation at Sheerness (June - September)


 12F version of 2 Range DECCA fitted in lieu of 6F version.

Prepared for installation of Decca Track Plotter Unit.

Trials with Slave units sited at Leysdown.

Modified Echo Sounder  MS26J with Filter fitted.

 Carried out Demonstration of Charts and Hydrographic survey boat work.

Annual Inspection not satisfactory due to extension of refit caused by defects found on trials.

Hydrographer visited ship at Sheerness.


Passage to Indian Ocean (September - November)


Soundings and core sampling undertaken.

Trials of modified E/S.

Carried out  Local survey in Gibraltar harbour (October)

(Note: Work affected by high incidence of 'Asian flu’.

             Some patients landed to RNSQ.

Track Plotter equipment and 2 Range DECCA generators transferred from HMS VIDAL.

Special task carried out at proposed Beacon site NW Bizerta (November)

Continuation of earlier 100 fathom line checks.

Shoal investigation in Aegean Sea and Greek Archipelago.

Discussed future joint survey work in Seychelles with 42 Field Survey Regiment RE at Limassol.

International Geophysical Year (IGY) activities (November 1957 - April 1958)

Cooperative measurements at  Stations in Straits of Bab-el-Mandab (November)

Water sampling, bathythermograph measurements, Plankton hauls and sea-bed examination.

(Note: Results were later compared with records made 25 years previously.

           Some weather delays experienced.)

Mahra Coast Survey in conjunction with RE detachment (December)

(Note: Objective: To link overall triangulation of South Coast Arabian survey geodetically with earlier land

                               surveys by Army personnel.

RE party landed at Mukalla for shore work, with protection from local military unit.

Ship work on Hadhramat and Mahra coasts.


Passage to Seychelles via Mombasa (January 1958)


Detached party landed at Pemba to continue the work commenced in early 1957

Survey of route from Mombasa to Port Victoria.


Joint Survey in Seychelles area with RE Unit (January - March)


2 Range DECCA Slaves sited at Bird Island (RED) and Silhouette Island (GREEN)

(Note: Performance satisfactory to 70 miles range.)

           TELLUROMETER equipment in extensive use.

           R/T communications essential for conduct of shore operations.

           Area sounded covered 1,200 Square Miles and took 54 days.

Diverted to Maldives to act as communications link for the High Commissioner during local political

discussions (April 1958).


Passage to UK (May)


Pemba party rejoined in Aden after taking passage in RFA WAVE PREMIER (May)


Refit at Chatham (June - September 1958)


Passage to Persian Gulf (October - November 1958)


Embarked RE detachment at Malta for Oman coast survey (October)

Continuation of Oceanographic Station work for IGY in Bab-el-Mandab (See above).

Survey of SE coast of Oman in anticipation of future use of area by large capacity oil tankers.

Assistance provided by RE unit for land survey (November 1958)


Persian Gulf in continuation (December 1958 - March 1959).


Bahrein approaches; Hallul - Dalma Island (Umm Said area).

Tide watching camp at Jebel Ghaga.

Returned to Sitra to land Petty Officer diagnosed as having Mening-Encephalitis.

Some delay caused by local frontier dispute between Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

R&R at Unn Said

.Annual Inspection with HM Frigates LOCH INSH and LOCH ALVIE as consorts (January)


Commanding Officer: Commander C R K Roe ( 7/01/59)


Exceptionally strong Shamal with 70 knot winds - dragged despite 2 anchors but held (February)

Diverted to join RAF aircraft and USS STRONG in search for dhows after Shamal.

(Note: Landed 13 survivors transferred from USS STRONG. Lighter taken in tow later.

 Some damage to survey motor boat.

Visited Das Island in use by Abu Dhabi oil rig AEMA ENTERPRISE.

Completed Odaid work.

Recovered bower anchor from HMS LOCH RUTHVEN in Sitra anchorage (April)


Passage to Gibraltar for Extended Refit (May).


Refixed derelict oil rig south of Hallul

Called at Aden and Malta with soundings on passage.

Overhauled Yacht BORER BEE on passage with RN crew on passage from Singapore to UK

100 fathom line continuation work in Mediterranean.

Paid off for Extended Refit on 31 May 1959.


Extended refit at Gibraltar (June 1959 to May 1960).


Commencement of work other than preparation was delayed until September.

(Note: Considerable importance was placed on satisfactory completion as little shore support

            would be available during planned survey work in southern Ocean and Antarctica.

            Full hull survey carried out which involved removal of offices and cabins on upper decks.

            Condition was found to be good and mock-ups of new compartments prepared.

            Anchors and cables were returned to UK for heat testing

            Machinery work including realignment and replacement of tail shafts and crankshaft.

            Asbestos lagging replaced by fibre glass.

            Bridge Plotting Room redesigned for, but not with Radar Type 979 display equipment.

            Type 162 Bottom Search Sonar installed and new Dome fitted for Type 128 Sonar

            Electrical wiring completely renewed.

             Cafeteria Messing with improved Galley facilities and also a Laundry were provided.

Trials were completed off Gibraltar by 7 June 1960.

(Note: No machinery alignment problems reported during Full Power Trial.)


Seventh Commission 1960 - 62

Commissioned: 16 May 1960

Commanding Officer: Commander G PD Hall, DSC  (15/05/60).

(Promoted Captain: 31/12/61)

(Later Rear Admiral, CB, DSC and Hydrographer 1971 -75).


Home Waters Deployment (June –August)


Liaison Visits to Spain and Portugal (June)

(Note: Discussions held with Spanish Institute of Hydrography at Cadiz for three days were an unqualified success)

           Call at Lisbon to further existing liaison with Portuguese Directorate of Hydography and Navigation

           coincided with 400th anniversary of death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

           Planned work on Atlantic coasts made these visits particularly important.

Local survey at Dartmouth and visits by RNC BRITANNIA cadets and midshipmen.

New DECCA LAMBDA Equipment installed at Devonport

Carried Admiralty Acceptance Trial. of LAMBDA) in NW Approaches.

Slave stations sited on the islands of Islay (GREEN) and Tiree (RED).


Stanton Bank area with rough weather and long hours.

(Note: Although initially affected by bad weather equipment was found to be satisfactory (July - August).

 Carried out Trials of Echo Sounder MS26J in depths up to 1,000 fathoms off Sound of Inistrahull (August).

R&R at Oban and Moll with visit to lona.

LAMBDA equipment recovered before return to Devonport.


Preparations for South Atlantic Duties (September)

New precision depth recorder fitted by ship's staff.

Radar Type 979 set to work by manufacturer.

Embarked four scientists with their equipment and stores.

Carried out setting up and calibration of instruments for use at Oceanographic Stations.

New Hydrographer (Rear Admiral EG Irving) visited ship (Sept.1960).


Atlantic Survey (September - October)


Core examinations at 8 Stations on Continental Shelf.

Water sampling and PISA tube meter trials.

Carried out search for ridge in Azores area.

Survey work in Terceira and San Miguel in the Azores using radar and beacons.

Delayed by major defect in Port Main Engine and diverted for repair at Gibraltar (October 1960).


Repair Period at Gibraltar.

Advance party and support stores transferred to HMS PROTECTOR for passage to South Georgia.

(Note: Numbers had to be reduced because of space limitations.)

           Control framework to be established and tide-watching commenced.

Funeral of Chief Petty Officer who died on board from natural causes.

Replacement item from HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS transferred by helicopter after completion repair work.

Underwater camera was lost during tests using a dockyard lighter when a cable parted

(Note: Captain took part in special radio programme on RN co-operation with scientific work.

Precision Depth Recorder received from UK

(Note: This later proved unserviceable at sea).

           AUWE assistance requested.


Completed Azores tasks.

Shoal investigation South of San Miguel.

Magnetic variation swing and traverses made using E/S.


Atlantic Oceanographic work (October 1960 - January 1961)


Continued Mid-Atlantic Ridge investigation at 23 Stations (November)

Rift Valley delineated.

Core sampling (Deepest from 4277 fathoms)

Water sampling and Bathythermograph measurements made

Seabed sampling taken in shallows.,

Check made on Nares Deep and Puerto Rica Trench.

Inter-Island sea passages in West Indies area surveyed (November)

Shoal examinations, position fixing and least depth measurements

Calls at Antigua, St. Lucia, Port of Spain and Trinidad

Depth Recorder operation satisfactory after attention by ships staff

Readings made at Stations Eastward along 10 Degrees North Latitude line.)

Resumed Mid Atlantic Ridge programme.

Parties landed on St. Pauls Rocks with prior Brazilian Government approval

Samples of rock and flora obtained.

Certificate of visit provided with names of ship's company and newspapers

(Note: Last RN visit (HMS CHALLENGER 1872 - 6) had also left mementos (November)

Oceanographic records made at Stations on passage to Recife.

Underwater camera in use.

Refuelled from RFA because of high cost of fuel locally.


Collected Brazilian Navy Liaison Officer at Recife

Carried out Sketch survey and examination of off-shore banks at Martin Vaz ESE of Rio de Janeiro.

(Note: Landed party for one day.

            Ship and boat sounding undertaken.

           Bottom samples obtained.

Defect in No 2 Boiler due to water contamination

Planned tasks carried out using one Boiler.

Repair arranged at Simons Town in January.

Davis Bank survey completed.

Visited Brazilian Navy Hydrographic organisation at Rio de Janeiro (December)

Oceanic Stations observations made on passage to Montevideo.

Soundings, magnetic variation and temperature measurements, with water and bottom sampling taken.

(Note: To date continuous E/S records covered 10,600 miles of track using 27 Sheets.

At Montevideo for Christmas Break (December)

(Note: Visit very successful and included many official and social engagements.

            Local statue of Sir Winston Churchill cleaned of tar coating (by plain clothes party)

            Visits exchanged with Argentinian Hydrographic authorities at Buenos Aires.

            Arrangements made to call on return passage in April 1961.

            No British Survey Ship had been in this area since HMS BEAGLE in 1825.)

Oceanographic Stations work continued during passage to Tristan da Cunha (January 1961)

Seamount discovered and one core sample taken frcm 2726 fathoms.

Local survey at Tristan da Cuhna (January 1961)

Sounding of anchorage by two Survey Boats.

Shore parties landed by Longboat because of local conditions.

Medical Officer (Surgeon Lieut. RS MacKinnon) left ashore and to rejoin ship at Gough Island.


Passage to Simonstown (January 1961)


Delineated Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands.

 Core sample taken in Cape Deep was 8 feet 1 inch long.


Repair work at Simonstown (January)

(Note: Boiler tubes replaced and Board of Enquiry convened.)

           Annual inspection by CinC South Atlantic and South America.

           Discussions with scientists from Cape University about 1962 International Indian Ocean work.

           Customary social and sporting exchanges were enjoyed by all.


Passage to South Georgia (February)


Magnetic observations.

Called at Gough Island to collect the Medical Officer.

Encountered icebergs and much fog which enforced reduced speed


South Georgia Survey (February and March)


Recovered detached party after their 4 month absence.

Coastlining and topographic work completed

(Note: Problems experienced with tent ventilation but resolved.

29 day tidal record and geodetic control points observations.

Teal captured for donation to Slimbridge Centre

Boat sounding work commenced.

Called at Administrator at Grytviken

(Note: Birmingham university scientist Duncan Carse ('Dick Barton' of 1947 fame) landed with 10 tons of

           equipment after delay due to stormy conditions.

           His camp was later overwhelmed by tidal wave and he was lucky to be rescued.)

Near disaster collision between ship and large iceberg avoided by good fortune.

Base camp set up on Bird Island at Jordans Cove.

Four  Surveying Officers and 20 ratings with 3 Survey Boats in use.

Party experienced and accepted both deprivation and discomfort in extreme conditions.

(Note: Environment made work very dangerous. Colossal breakers with wave heights up to 40 feet.

           1 survey boat lost in Bird Strait (fortunately without any casualties).

           Special precautions were observed to ensure that boats never operated individually.


South Georgia Survey (February and March) (Cont.)

           Normal design service motor cutter quite unsuitable for sounding in these particular conditions

           Pinnacles to 5 or 6 fathoms depth discovered.

HMS PROTECTOR with CinC embarked visited survey area before completion of work (30 March).

Windlass defect delayed resumption of work after visit.

Circumnavigation of the island completed (March).

(Note: Recovery of shore parties and equipment prolonged by extreme weather conditions

             On completion about 300 sq. miles centred on Stewart Strait had been surveyed.

Three passengers embarked for passage to Port Stanley (6 April).


Falkland Islands and passage to Buenos Aires (April).


On arrival at Port Stanley prepared for South American visit.

Carried out limited programme to delineate 100 fathom line for Argentinian Hydrographic authorities.

Brief call for essentials at Montevideo.

(Note: Unimpressive liaison contacts with Urugayan hydrographers..0

At Buenos Aires (April)

(Note: 6 day visit with extensive formal ceremonial.

            Many social and sporting exchanges

           1,370 visitors on Open Day.

            Argentinian Admiral showed more interested in equipment than in return of 'Islas Malvinas’

               An Ex RCN RIVER Class frigate was being acquired for conversion to survey ship).


Passage to UK via Ascension Island and Freetown (May).


Programme of Oceanic observations. Speed reduced to conserve fuel.

At Georgetown  Ascension with  Sporting and social exchanges

Carried out four oceanographic Stations and photographic work on W. African Continental

Shelf. Taut wire measurements off Cap Blanc and shoal examinations and measurements off Mauretania

Visit to Teneriffe reported as a place of warmth and prosperity

Final Oceanographic Station work on Gettysburg Shoal.

Note: Beacons laid and traverses made.

           Coring work in Iberian Plain.

Called at Falmouth and embarked trials personnel and TV film crew.

(Note: Carried out Pre-refit trials and filming for TV serial using replica of Drake's GOLDEN HIND)

Hydrographer joined by Helicopter for entry into Plymouth.

Entered Plymouth sound after overnight wait en 31 May 1961.

(Note: Despite problems with landing and signalling procedures).


Statistics of Commission

                               Magnetic Observations: 7                                  Oceanic Observations         107

                               Core Sampling:               62                                  Water Samples                       50

                               Plankton Hauls:              51                                  Bathythermograph Dips     482

                               New Sea mounts                                                   Miles steamed in

                                             examined:          10                                           225 days at sea:      40,660.



Refit Period at Devonport (June to October)


Discussions with Cambridge University scientists regarding forthcoming work in Indian Ocean.

Dockyard work included: -

               Repair of 3" crack in No 7 Oil Fuel Tank

               (Note: This may have accounted for machinery shaft misalignment.

               Resiting Echo Sounders Type 773 and Type 775 Display units in Bridge Plotting Room.

               Gravimeter, Magnetometer and Precision Depth Recorder equipment provided.

                Deep Sea Echo Sounding Outfit and new design DECCA Navigator Outfit QM10 fitted

Inclining Experiment required by Admiralty carried out during routine docking


(Note: This established  Low 'GM’ affecting ship stability.

            60 tons of ballast added and some equipment removed including:

                      Topmast winch; Steam Sounding Machine; MF Direction Finding Outfit and aerial and davits;

                       Port Surf Boat and davits, RNSA Dinghy, Ready –use Ammunition Locker, Slave Mast sections.

                       Stowage positions re-sited for  two Dories and two Dinghies.

                       The disadvantages were accepted some scepticism as no instability had been experienced during

                        the severe weather conditions experienced during the last year.

 Completion was delayed until October

Repair of defects discovered during post refit sea trials of propulsion machinery and: re-insulation of Cold and Cool Room.


Passage to Aden (October)


Additional scientific personnel embarked.

Bathythermograph, Gravity and Magnetic measurements carried out off Cyprus, in Nile Delta and during

passage through Red Sea.

New Depth Recorder and Magnetometer unsatisfactory.

Towing problems experienced when Magnetometer Towed Body was streamed.

(Note: Magnetometer readings were found to be satisfactory during later use when  towed body was attached to

           raft structure

Survey of Haycock Island off Ethiopia.

Diverted to Perim to deal with water supply emergency.

(Note: Fuel supply for desalination plant was replenished by transfer of fuel by boat using Jerricans.


International Indian Ocean Expedition (November)


Traverses in Gulf of Aden for oceanographic measurements.

(Note Earlier problems with towed body had been resolved. See above.)


East African Coastal survey (November - December).


Survey of Lamu harbour and approaches including Manda and Patta islands (November)

(Note: This was extended because of defect in Gravimeter required for deep sea work.)

           Shore parties landed.

Marking and tidal observations at Lamu, with Four Boat party at Sheila for local survey.

Embarked Mau-Mau detainees and police escort for passage to Mombasa.

Diverted for medical emergency on return to Lamu and returned to Mombasa.

Ship sounding carried out to limit of shore marks visibility.

.Diverted for flood relief work in Mombasa (December).


Indian Ocean Expedition continuation (December)

Oceanic observations continued between African coast and Seychelles (December).

Traverses made across Seychelles Bank for Depth and Bathythermograph measurements.

Reconnaissance parties landed at Bird Island and Dennis Island to select sites for DECCA

 Slave Stations. Automatic Tide Gauge set up at Port Victoria.

During return trip to Mombasa  Magnetometer towed body was lost

(Note: It is presumed due to striking an uncharted reef !!)


Kenyan Coast continuation (January 1962)


Kenya Banks Tidal observations.

Recovered Lamu parties.


Expedition Work Continuation (January - March 1962)


Gravimeter, Magnetometer, Depth and Taut Wire measurements on Carlsberg Ridge between African coast and

 Aldebra on Carlsberg Ridge (January 1962)

Landed detached parties on Aldebra and Agalega for geodetic and tidal measurements (January 1962)

(Note:  Special precautions taken by CinC and Seychelles authorities to make regular checks on welfare

Taut Wire measurements made during passage to Cosmeldo and Astove

.Ship off shore soundings work. Scientific

Liaison visit to Bombay (January)


Passage to Maldives from Bombay with Coordinator of Expedition (January).

Carried out survey in NW approaches to Bombay.

Continuous observations revealed major discrepancies in existing Charts of Maldives area.

Automatic Tide Gauge established at Gan (February).

Detached parties with boats landed. Salvaged damaged power cable and made Inland lagoon survey.


Passage to Mauritius via Shoals of Capricorn (February)

Observations made across Indian Ocean Ridge.

(Note: Possible drowned atoll found by E/S and Gravimeter gradient measurements in Mauritius area)

Traverses NW of Mauritius to centre of Madagascar Basin.

Landed party at French Meteorological Station on Tromelin Island to establish Gravity Station

Carried out ship sounding at Agalega with shore party landed.

Extension of Madagascar Ridge confirmed near Cosmeldos Island.

Return Passage to Seychelles

Recovered Aldabra party after 45 day stay.

Depth and Magnetic observations on Seychelles - Mauritius Ridge

Southern edge Amirante and Seychelles Banks observations (March);

Radial traverses across Seychelles Bank.

At Port Victoria, Seychelles.

Collected eight  'Cocos de Mer trees from Praslin Island.

(Note: These are unique to area)

            Divers obtained samples of rock for investigation of magnetic anamolies


Passage to Mombasa

Carried out Traverses across Ridge.

Disembarked scientist at Mombasa on 11 March.


Kenyan coast continuation (March)

Off shore survey Manda Bay.

(Note: Coastlining and marking by Boats and ship soundings with beacons..

             Insufficiency of Beacons noted and extempore arrangements not satisfactory.


Passage to UK (April - May)

Liaison Visit to Pakistan Hydrographic establishment at Karachi (April)

Made Geophysical traverse on passage from Karachi to Aden

Completed outstanding work at Haycock Island in Red Sea

Met HMS DALRYMPLE in Mediterranean Sea for joint joint exercises (May).

Paid off for refit at Devonport June 1962


:          53,000 soundings and 75,000 miles of measurements made.

            Captain awarded Cuthbert-Peek Grant from Royal Geographic Society for contributions

             to oceanographic knowledge.


Eighth Commission 1962 - 63

Commissioned:  15 August 1962

Commanding Office: Commander D W Haslam  (15/08/62).

Later Rear Admiral and Hydrographer of the Navy (1975-85)


Refit at Devonport (June - July)


(Note: Wire falls for boats replaced.

             New magnetometers and Precision Depth Recorder fitted

Carried out searched for submarine ALARIC in SUBSMASH exercise with HMS DALRYMPLE (August).

Hydrographer embarked from HMS DALRYMPLE during passage to Portland for 5 day work-up (September).


Passage to rejoin International Expedition in Indian Ocean (September - November 1962)


Gravimeter tested near Eddystone and E/S 771 operation checked at 1000 fathoms.

Planned Magnetic and Gravimetric measurements made at selected Stations.

Made Official visit to SACLANT NATO ASW Research Centre at La Spezia, Italy (October).

(Note: Overall impression was that much co-ordination with other hydrographic centres was required if collection

             of oceanographic data was to be done without duplication of effort.


Indian Ocean Expedition work (November).

Magnetic measurements at specific depths in Gulf of Men.

Investigated of possible Median Valley associated with Carlsberg Ridge.

Beacons and buoys laid in preparation for later work by Royal Research  Ship DISCOVERY.

Bathythermograph trials made to 900 feet using new Deep Ruggedised Outfit

Operational visit to Bombay for liaison with Indian Hydrographic Department

Oceanographic observations on Carlsberg Ridge during passage from Bombay to Seychelles.

Replenished at sea from RFA  WAVE SOVEREIGN.

Diverted to transfer rating to RFA FORT DUSQUENSNE for passage to Gan for air flight to UK

4 day Seychelles visit with social and sporting exchanges (December)

Simultaneous Magnetic measurements made with 2 Magnetometers towed at constant depth during passage to Mombasa.


Kenyan coast continuation (December 1962 - March 1963)


Carried out survey between  Lamua and  Manda Bay Approaches and Manda Bay to Chiambone.

(Note: Last survey work was done between 1824 and 1825.)

Slave Station site chosen near Malindi (December)

(Note DECCA equipment found satisfactory after not being used for 2 years.

Diverted to Gan as Guard-ship to relieve HM Frigate BLACKPOOL (4 to 24 January 1963)

16 man Detached Party left with 2 boats at Larou to carry out inshore survey work.

(Note. Mail diversion found unsatisfactory.

            Serious delays caused slight loss of crew morale.

            Opportunity taken to carry out tide watching and fixing.

            Local 'dummy warship' caused some hilarity as it changed its design to suit type of guardship

            in use.)

Returned to Lamu on relief by HM Destroyer CAPRICE (24 January)

New sea-mount rising from 2,500 fathoms to 715 Fathoms discovered 50 miles East of Mogadishu Rise.

R&R and stores replenishment at Mombasa.

Good progress at Lamu noted.

Ship grounded at Kiwaihu, near Mombasa  (26 February)

Ship soundings made in approaches to Manda Bay

Continued Triangulation through Siyu Channel.

(Note: Survey needed to improve access for oil exploration work and for future harbour development.)

           TELLUROMETER extensively used.

           Coastlining made difficult by soft mangrove edge and swell conditions at end of period.

           Place names used had been obtained from local District Commissioner.

Visited Zanzibar (March).

When SW Monsoon broke planned work had been completed.

Extension to north including outer area ship sounding to be dealt with next season.

(Note: Increase in radical cases needing hospital treatment noted.


Kenyan coast continuation (December 1962 - March 1963) (Continued)

Core samples taken until corer unit lost.

Defect in Boiler steam pipe.

Operational visit to Karachi (April)

(Note Scientific discussions and lecture to Pakistan Navy on Exploration work.

          Sporting exchanges and boiler repair work.

          Liberty-men numbers reduced by 50% compared with Seychelles.)


Second Phase of Expedition (April - May 1963).


DECCA Slave Station dismantled and scientists rejoined at Mombasa

Observations and measurements in SW Approaches to Seychelles.

2,700 fathom trench investigated.

Visited  Mahe visit.

(Note: Children’s Party during which electric train set demonstration caused much confusion.

            Social and sporting exchanges.)

Magnetic anomalies found during series of runs over Carlsberg Ridge near Bird Island.

Further scientific investigation required to establish relation to fault line.

(Note: As a result of this work which lasted ten weeks, the Chart is now marked “OWEN Fracture Line”

             Data obtained was used to prove “Tectonic Fracture Theory”)

Echo sounding equipment established existence of dense fish layers

(Note: These were later exploited by Japanese.)


Second Phase of Expedition (April - May 1963).

Phase concluded with examinations of the seabed in Gulf of Avon (May)

Trench of 3,176 fathoms found

(Note: This was named WHEATLEY after the scientist involved.)

No median valley discovered during traverses across this part of Carlsberg Ridge.

Gravimeter and Magnetometer profiles made over trench north of  Guarafui.

Arrived at Aden with 1 Ton fuel remaining after 4,320 mile travel since leaving Karachi.

(Note: Fuel economy measures needed included use of Diesel Generator in daytime/

Annual Inspection.


Passage to UK (May - June 1963)


Diverted to Massawa to land sick rating.

Special current measurements made using an MFV in Straits of Gibraltar (June).

(Note: The Mecavolier Current Meter and Pisa Bottles used produced an unsatisfactory result.)

Pre-refit trials in SW Approaches.

Total mileage steamed: 38,200 since re-commissioning (June).


Refit at Devonport (July - August)


Hull corrosion evident and attention essential at next refit. Port tail shaft removed for examination.

Guard-ship duty at Dartmouth Regatta with families embarked for passage (August).

Sailed with families on board to Dartmouth for duty as Guardship.

Trinity House Vessel PATRICIA. Open to visitors (TOO).

(Note: Poor weather restricted yachting events.)


Passage to Mombasa (September - October)


Carried out work-up for surveying.

Made continuous soundings and six  Shoal examinations in Mediterranean near Cape Bon

Vigilance at Port Said proved worthwhile.

(Note: Thief caught escaping out of bathroom scuttle with a raincoat.)

Indiscipline at Aden.

(Note: Rating charged with striking Officer of the Day (October)

(Note: At subsequent court-martial in Mombasa found guilty and sentenced to nine months detention.)


Kenyan coast survey continuation (October)

Detached parties landed with survey motor boats for triangulation and tide watching.


International Indian Ocean Exploration (October - November).


Seismic Tests carried out  in conjunction with Royal Research Ship  DISCOVERY.

(Note: Heavy duty Mark VII Depth Charges exploded at 400 feet below surface and 500 feet astern in positions

            50 yards apart.

            Effects recorded from sensors in RRS DISCOVERY.

            First depth charge caused flooding in Naval Store and leak in a Fuel Tank

.           After repair work distance of explosion from ship adjusted by increasing speed.

            Results achieved were judged to be excellent (October)

On return to Mombasa to embark more Depth Charges trials programme delayed by machinery defects.

Repeated  Seismic Tests with RRS DISCOVERY on Seychelles Bank for Geological research (November)

(Note: .Light Weight Depth Charges dropped in shallower water.

             Measurements progressively recorded to 106 miles range.

             World record established for length of  seismic line.

Soundings recorded during passages.


Kenyan Coast continuation (November 1964 - February 1964)


Offshore work resumed and area extended northward to cover approaches to Formosa Bay

Second DECCA Slave sited at Malindi

Tide Watching party at Kiunga near border of Somalia withdrawn because of threatened attack by tribesmen..

Xmas and R&R at Mombasa.

(Note: Local station leave granted.)

Diverted to Zanzibar to evacuate British citizens (January - February 1964) 

(Note: Muslim Sultan had been deposed by pro African elements.

            Local situation resolved after extensive negotiation.

Later unrest in Dar-es-Salaam further delayed continuation of survey.

Joined other RN ships in area after taking troops and stores from Mombasa

Returned to Mombasa when situation stabilised (February)

Day and night work necessary to make up for lost time but kept at short notice for recall.

Rejoined Task Group for brief period and when operation cancelled recovered Slave Station.


The Earl of Oxford and Asquiith, HE Governor of Seychelles embarked at Aldabra for visits to islands.(March)

Shoal investigations and ships soundings.

Calls at Desnoefs and Cosmeldo and Assumption Islands.

Fuelled at Diego Suarez (Malagasy) before disembarking the Governor and party at Mahe.

(Note: Special permission was obtained for this visit because of the presence of the Governor.

            The visit had been made necessary because planned Replenishment from an RFA vessel had been cancelled.)

Received Aldabran turtle (Teresa) from the Governor to give to Plymouth Zoo (March)).


Final Phase of International Indian Ocean Exploration work (April 1963)


Oceanographic work on passage to Mauritius during which lost Deep Bathythermograph Unit.

Sub-current measurements made and water samples obtained at 6 levels down to 150 fathoms.

Tidal gauge intended for Mauritius site not required and set up at Rodriges.

Arrived Aden on 11 April

Carried out Vulcanological programme (April)

(Note: Dr I Gass of Leeds University scientist embarked.

Detached party landed at Perim.

Carried out  scientific work in Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.

(Note: This included TELLUROMETER fixing and vulcanological work in Red Sea between Jabal al Tair and


Recovered Perim party.


Passage to UK (April - May)


Oceanographic work carried out off Malta at Fifla.

Hydrqgrapher embarked for entry in to Plymouth.

Mileage steamed 70,000 on arrival (11th May).


Refit Period at Devonport (June - July)


Ninth Commission (1964 - 65).

Recommissioned:  7 August 1964

  Commanding Officer: Commander J. Paton  (17/08/64).


General Service Commission for Eastern Atlantic Survey.

Visited Portsmouth to discuss planned programme with Hydrographers in HMS VIDAL (August)

Carried out one  week work-up at Portland before departure on 16 September


DECCA LAMBDA Survey in Eastern Atlantic (October - December)


Slave Stations sited at Sancti Petri in Spain and at El Jabida in Morocco.

(Note: Detached parties established excellent relations with local communities).

Local survey off Gibraltar (October)

(Note: MFV trip arranged to Tangier.)


Moroccan coastal survey (October - November)

Maildrops arranged.

R&R visit to Casablanca (October)

(Note: Satisfactory social and sporting exchanges with Royal Moroccan Navy.)

New Slave Station site S of Cape Spartel agreed with Moroccan authorities at Rabat (November)

Progress slowed by weather and some technical problems with the Lambda equipment.

Visited Cadiz (December)

(Note: Political situation relating to Spanish claim to Gibraltar restricted reception.

            Sites for Slave Stations discussed.

Hydrographer embarked before arrival at Plymouth.

Annual Inspection (December).


Moroccan Coast continuation (January - May 1965)


Reactivated Slave Stations on arrival at Gibraltar (January)

(Note: R&R to land skiing parties in Spain and Morocco (January and February).

Returned to Gibraltar for medical emergency (February).

Operational visit to Casablanca.

Dismantled Santi Petri Slave and transferred to new site south of Cape Spartel.

Tragic suicide on board at Gibraltar (March)

(Note: Board of Inquiry and civil inquest held.)

 Offshore activities continued to be affected by weather well into March.

New site at operational by 15 March.

Detached party left at Gibraltar for local survey after dredging work (April).

Reconnaissance in Northern Spain for sites required when survey area moved north (April)

Additional oceanographic work carried out for Moroccan Fishery authorities off Casablanca (May).

Slave Station dismantled and moved by road to Spain (May)

Official visit to Vigo for Liaison with Spanish naval authorities relating to future work (4 to 6 June)

Lambda stations established in new sites.


NATO Hydrographic Month with Portuguese Navy (June).


Official visit to Lisbon with many social exchanges (12 - 18 June)

Hydrographer of the Navy embarked for discussions with Portuguese Hydrographer and Scientists.

Joined Task Group 443.1 with Portuguese Survey Ships JOAO DE LISBOA and DIEGO CAO CORTE REAL

Oceanographic Cruises NE Azores area with exchange of officers and visit to Ponta Delgardo.


Northern Spanish Coast (July - September)


Liaison visit to Ferrol.

(Note: Social and sporting exchanges; demonstration arranged.)

Slave Stations set up and calibrated..

Joint Survey programme started.


Return passage to UK

Attended Clyde Royal Review and Sunnier Leave period at Plymouth (August - September)

(Note: At Plymouth Navy Days a series of displays were provided on board to demonstrate the work of the

           surveying service.)


Final deployment


Returned to continued survey SW Cape Finisterre (September)

Port propeller shaft sheared within A-Bracket and propeller lost.

(Note: No injury to engine room personnel.)

At La Corunna.

Survey work terminated (15 September).

Lambda Stations dismantled and arrangements made for local custody.

Called at Vigo

(Note:  Captain visited Madrid to review progress and receive assurances of future

co-operation by Spanish Navy.)

Returned to Plymouth on one shaft and arrived on 30 September.


F i n a l   D i s p o s a l.


HMS OWEN Paid off 14 October 1965 and was reduced to Reserve status. She was placed on Disposal List and sold in 1970 to BISCO for demolition by Bolcow at Blyth.. The ship arrived in tow at the breaker’s yard on  15 July 1970.



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