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

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

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

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




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



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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.


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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


                           (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


            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.


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January                    Adriatic deployment in continuation.

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

March                      (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.)



              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.)



              2nd            Deployed in Northern Adriatic with HM Minesweepers ARIES, ARCTURUS, FANCY

                                WATERWITCH and ROSARIO to widen existing swept channel into Porto


                                (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 extensive

                                          damage 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.



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