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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2 by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS CHAMELEON (J 387) - Algerine-class Fleet Minesweeper

HMS Chameleon (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

ALGERINE-Class Fleet Minesweeper fitted with Turbine propulsion machinery ordered on 30th April 1942 from Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Laid down on 20th August 1943 at the same time as sister ship CHEERFUL. Launched on 6th May 1944, she was the ninth RN ship to carry this name, or the variant CAMELEON, introduced in 1777 for a 14 gun Sloop built in London which was lost during a hurricane in the West Indies in October 1780. Last used for a destroyer named CAMELEON built at Govan in 1910 and sold in 1921. Her build was completed on 18th  May 1942. No record of an adoption by any civil community in UK after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign held during 1941-42 is recorded, as the ship had not been ordered.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


EGYPT 1801 - BURMA 1945


   H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, on a flowering spray, a Chameleon, all 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 4


September         Contractors trials and commissioned for service in 7th Minesweeping Flotilla.

         15th          Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

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


October             Deployed in Firth Of Forth for minesweeping training.

                          Took passage to join Flotilla based at Harwich for mine clearance operations in

                          Scheldt estuary.

                          (Note: Other ships in Flotilla were HM Minesweepers PINCHER, RECRUIT,

                                      RIFLEMAN, PLUCKY, FANCY, SQUIRREL and VESTAL. These ships

                                      were all fitted with Turbine propulsion machinery to ensure maximum

                                      compatibility for maintenance and support during operations.)


November        Transferred for loan service to Plymouth Command for anti-submarine patrols and

                          minesweeping based at Falmouth.


December         Prepared for foreign service.

                          (Note: Ships of Flotilla were all individually withdrawn from operational duties

                                      during this period for essential maintenance and repair in Home dockyards

                                       before sailing to join the Eastern Fleet.


1 9 4 5


January              Rejoined Flotilla in Channel area for local duties pending departure for Ceylon.

                           (Note: Ships were based at Portland or Falmouth.)


February            Took passage for Gibraltar.

                          (Note: Ship may have been deployed as an escort for a convoy.)


March                Passage in Mediterranean and Red Sea.


April                  Passage from Aden to Colombo.

         14th           Joined East Indies Fleet and deployed with  HM Minesweepers PINCHER, PLUCKY,

                           RECRUIT, PICKLE, VESTAL and RIFLEMAN.

                           (Note: HMS FANCY and HMS SQUIRREL had been deployed for tow of a Floating

                                        Dock from UK to Gibraltar but after the Dock had foundered during passage

                                        their transfer to the East Indies Fleet had been delayed.. Only HMS SQUIRREL

                                         rejoined the Flotilla as HMS FANCY was transferred to 19th Flotilla in the

                                          Mediterranean during passage.)

                           Nominated for service in Force 65 of Eastern Fleet for joint minesweeping operation

                           with 37th Minesweeping Flotilla in support of planned military operation to capture

                           Rangoon (Operation DRACULA).

                           Joined Force 65 at Akyab, Burma.

         29th              Sailed with ships of Force 65 as part of escort for Convoy ABLE for minesweeping

                              operations in support of assault.

                              (Note: For details off other naval activities associated with DRACULA see WAR

                                          WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)



           1st              Commenced minesweeping to clear approach passage for assault ships.

           3rd              Deployed with Force 65 to ensure clear passage to enable ships to berth at Rangoon.

                              On release from DRACULA returned with Flotilla to Colombo.

                              Nominated for refit in South Africa and took passage to Durban.


June                       Taken in hand for refit prior to minesweeping support of planned British landings in Malaya.


July                       Under refit

                              (Note: Absence of this ship in Durban prevented her taking part in Operation LIVERY

                                           a minesweeping operation off Phuket Island. During this operation two ships of

                                           the Flotilla were lost, HMS SQUIRREL and HMS VESTAL


August                  On completion of post refit trials to passage to Trincomalee to resume operational

                              duties with Flotilla.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS  CHAMELEON rejoined 7th Flotilla at Singapore and remained in the Far East until February 1946 when she returned to UK with the six remaining ships of the Flotilla to Pay-off . The ship later recommissioned for service in the 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet based in Malta. Between 1947 and  1954 she  was deployed for Palestine patrol with other Fleet units and took part in the standard Exercise and Visits Programmes each year after 1948. In 1954 she returned to UK with HM Minesweepers PLUCKY, RECRUIT and RIFLEMAN of 2nd Flotilla. After arrival at Portsmouth on 13th December that year the ship was Paid-off and reduced to Reserve status.  Laid-up at Portsmouth she was not recommissioned before being placed on the Disposal List in 1965, although she was refitted during this period when a SQUID anti-submarine mortar was fitted.  Sold in 1966 to BISCO for demolition by Ardmore Steel at Silloth, Cumberland she arrived in tow t the breakerís yard on 3rd April 1966.



For more about Algerine-class Minesweepers, see



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revised 23/4/11
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