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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

HMS WOODBRIDGE HAVEN (K.654) - Coastal Forces Depot Ship

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005 - further editing and formatting is required


HMS Woodbridge Haven (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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LOCH-Class Anti-Submarine Frigate ordered on 13th February 1943 from Swan Hunter of Wallsend, Newcastle. She was laid down on 2nd May 1944 as Job No J4840 (Yard Number 1790)) and intended to be named HMS LOCH TORRIDON. The ship was launched on 13th January 1945 but by that date the requirement for LOCH CLASS had lapsed and the ship was converted for use in the Far East as a Depot Ship for Light Coastal Forces craft in the Far East. Build completion was delayed by the changes needed for use in her new role and she was not accepted into service till 10th October 1945, after VJ Day. She commissioned as HMS WOODBRIDGE HAVEN and was the first RN ship to carry the name. As there was then no need for a ship of this type in the Pacific she was placed in Reserve at Harwich after acceptance from the builder. See General Information for details of design changes to the basic LOCH Class hull structure.

 

M a n n i n g   Divisions

Chatham : 1946 to  1953

      Portsmouth : 1955 till  centralised

 

G e o g r a p h i c   D a t a

LOCH  TORRIDON: Grid Reference NG7560.   Sea Loch in Ross and Cromarty.

WOODBRIDGE  HAVEN: Grid Reference TM2749.   Estuary of River Deben,   Suffolk.

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue In front of an anchor White, a fleur-de-lys gold.

 

 

S u m m a r y   o f   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 5

 

September             Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to P58.

 

October                  Contractors trials.

                10th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                11th        Commissioned for trials : 11 October 1945.

                                Commanding Officer : Commander K Gemmell, DSO, DSC RNVR (30/08/45]

                                (Note : This officer was a well known MTB Flotilla Commander 1940 -45).

 

November              Paid-off and reduced to Reserve status at Harwich.

 

December              Accepted into Reserve at Harwich.

 

1 9 4 6

 

January                  Nominated for service as Despatch Vessel for Flag Officer, Submarines and for use as a Submarine

to                            Target Vessel during exercises and submarine training.

March                    (Note : The workshop facilities and additional accommodation made her suitable for this type of

                                deployment.

                                Prepared for service.

 

April

                10th        Re-commissioned. Post refit trials and prepared for service.

 

May                        Deployed with 5th Submarine Flotilla at Portsmouth and used by Flag Officer Submarines.

to                            Took part in Submarine Command and Fleet exercises.

December

 

1 9 4 7

 

January                  Under refit at Devonport.

to                            Nominated for transfer to 3rd Submarine Flotilla at Rothesay.

April                       On completion of post refit trials took passage to Rothesay.

 

May                        Deployed with Flotilla for training and exercises in Clyde area.

to

July

 

August                  Visited Portsmouth September

                                Passage to Barrow for visit.

                                (Note :During visit sustained damaged in collision with HM Sloop CYGNET.

                                Docked for repair at Barrow 15th

                                New Commanding Officer appointed : Lieut. Cdr .D A Mason, Royal Navy.

                                (Later Vice Admiral, CB)

 October                 Under repair at Barrow.

                6th          On completion resumed duties at Rothesay.

 

November              Deployment with Flotilla at Rothesay in continuation.

                7th          Passage to Chatham for electrical repair.

 

December              Resumed duties at Rothesay.

 

1 9 4 8

 

January                  Deployment at Rothesay in continuation.

to                            Withdrawn after damage to propeller shaft bearings.

February                Passage to Chatham

 

March                    Under repair by Ml Dockyard, Chatham.

to                            Resumed Flotilla duties at Rothesay on completion of post repair trials.

June

 

July                         Flotilla deployment in continuation.

                                Visited Barrow with submarines.

 

August                  Flotilla duties in continuation.

 

September             Flotilla duties at Rothesay and visit to Barrow with submarines.

 

October                  Flotilla duties at Rothesay and visit to Barrow with submarines.

 

November              Flotilla duties at Rothesay in continuation.

 

December              Passage to Chatham for refit

 

1 9 4 9

 

January                  Under refit at Chatham.

to

February

 

March

                18th        On completion carried out post refit trials.

                                Passage to Rothesay to resume duties with Flotilla.

 

April                       Duties with Flotilla at Rothesay in continuation.

                                Visited Campbeltown with submarines.

 

May                        Flotilla duties at Rothesay in continuation.

                                New Commanding Officer appointed : Lieut Cdr P G Lachlan MBE RN.

 

June                        Flotilla duties at Rothesay in continuation.

                                (Note : During the period 1949-50 used for support of experimental trials on captured

                                U-Boat using HTP fuel)

 

July .                       Flotilla duties at Rothesay in continuation.

                25th        Captain HF Bone DSO*, DSC* RN, Captain 3rd Submarine Flotilla assumed

                                Command.

                                (Note: HM Submarine Depot Ship MONTCLARE was under refit)

 

August                  Flotilla deployment at Rothesay in continuation.

to

September

 

October

                9th          Deployed at Londonderry with Flotilla for Joint Anti-Submarine School exercises.

                14th        Returned to Rothesay.

 

November              Deployed at Rothesay for Flotilla duties.

to

December

 

1 9 5 0

 

January                  Complement reduced due to temporary manning shortages

                                Rothesay deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

 

February                Rothesay deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

to

March

 

April                       Under refit at Chatham

 

May

                7th          On completion of post refit trials resumed duties at Rothesay.

 

June

                4th          Deployed with Flotilla for Flag Officer Submarines Sunroer(?) War (Exercise SWX5).

                17th        On completion of SWX5 resumed duties at Rothesay.

 

July                         Deployed at Londonderry with Flotilla for Joint Anti-Submarine School exercises.

                                Passage to Chatham.

 

August

                2nd         Leave period and under refit at Chatham

 

September             Under refit

                21st         On completion of post refit trials resumed duties at Londonderry with Flotilla.

 

October                  Londonderry duties in continuation.

to

November

 

December              Deployed at Rothesay with Flotilla.

                                Passage to Chatham for Leave.

                23rd        Malicious damage suspected when sand found in Steering Engine.

 

1 9 5 1

 

January                  Resumed Flotilla duties continuation.

                                Visited Portland with submarines

 

February                Deployed at Rothesay with Flotilla.

                                (Note: During this period further malicious damage discovered in Anchor Winch).

 

March                    Docking and essential defect repair at Chatham.

                21st         New Commanding Officer, Lieut Cdr B C Longbottom RN appointed.

 

April                       Under repair.

 

May                        On completion resumed duties with Flotilla at Rothesay.

 

June                        Took part in Flag Officer Submarines Summer War (Exercise SW6).

 

July                         Deployed with Flotilla at Rothesay.

 

August                  Leave and refit at Chatham

 

September             Deployed for Home Fleet exercises with Flotilla.

                                Passage to Portland from Rothesay.

                                Took part in visits with submarines to Karlskrona and Copenhagen.

                                (Note : HM Submarine Depot Ship MONTCLARE and HM Destroyer ZAMBESI in company.)

 

October                  Deployed with Flotilla at Londonderry for JASS exercises.

 

November              Deployed with Flotilla at Rothesay.

 

December              Passage to Chatham for leave period.

                7th          Court martial for sabotage offences.

                                Able Seaman Thomas Willetts found guilty on 6 charges.

                                Sentenced to 2 years 6 months imprisonment and dismissed the Service.

                                (Note : Subject to confirmation).

 

1 9 5 2

 

January                  Passage to Rothesay to resume duties with Flotilla.

 

February                Rothesay deployment in continuation.

 

March                    Passage to Chatham for Leave period and refit.

                31st         New Commanding Officer, Lieut. Cdr A d'E T Sangster RN appointed.

 

April                       Under refit

to

May

 

June                        Passage to Rothesay to resume duties with Flotilla after post refit trials.

 

June                        Deployed at Rothesay with Flotilla.

to

August

 

September             Flotilla duties including exercises with Home Fleet and visits to Lerwick and Aberdeen with

to                            HM Depot Ship MONTCLARE and submarines.

October

 

November              Deployed at Rothesay and Londonderry with Flotilla.

 

December              Passage to Portsmouth for repair

.                               Under repair and Leave period.

 

1 9 5 3

 

January                  Resumed duties at Rothesay with Flotilla.

                31st         Deployed to assist disabled ferry PRINCESS VICTORIA adrift in Irish Sea during a

                                violent storm.

                                (Note : Ferry had sunk by the time rescue vessels had reached scene of disaster.

                                Only 44 survived out of 176 persons on board.

                                Rescue operations severely limited rescue work.)

 

February                Rothesay deployment in continuation.

to                            Passage to Chatham for routine docking and essential defect repair.

April

 

May                        Passage to Rothesay to resume duties with Flotilla.

                                Prepared for Coronation Review and visits programme.

 

June                        Visited Isle of Man on passage to Spithead.

                                Took part in Coronation Review.

 

July                         Resumed duties at Rothesay.

                                Provided street lining party for Royal visit to Greenock.

 

August                  Leave period at Chatham.

 

September             Passage to Rothesay to rejoin Flotilla.

 

October                  Deployed at Londonderry with Flotilla for anti-submarine exercises.

to

November

 

December              On release from exercises took passage to Chatham for Leave and refit.

 

1 9 5 4

 

January                  Under refit

                                Docking delayed.

 

February                Under refit

to                            Future deployment under consideration

June

 

July                         To be reduced to Reserve status en completion of refit

 

August                  Carried out post refit trials

 

September.            Reducing to Reserve Status.

to

December

 

1 9 5 5

 

January                  Accepted into Reserve at Chatham.

 

February                Selected for conversion for service as Support Ship for Coastal Minesweepers.

                                (See Conversion Notes).

                                Nominated for service in Mediterranean.

                1st           Commanding Officer, Captain RE Hutchins DSC RN appointed.

                                (Also Captain, Minesweepers, Mediterranean).

 

March                    Under conversion at Chatham.

to

June

 

July                         Post refit trials and prepared for foreign service.

to                            Manning Port Division changed to Portsmouth.

August                  Commissioned for duty with Mediterranean Fleet.

                                (Note : This deployment was made to provide support for military operations in Cyprus area

                                where sea patrols were to be carried cut by minesweepers to prevent smuggling of

                                weapons to terrorists).

 

September

                9th          Took passage from Chatham to Malta.

                                Headquarters element of 40 Commando Royal Marines embarked for passage.

                19th        Joined 104th Minesweeping Squadron in Malta.

 

October                  Deployed for support of minesweepers carrying patrols off Cyprus.

                                Based at Famagusta

 

November              Support duties in continuation and visited Beirut for R&R.

                                Deployed with Squadron during minesweeping exercises.

 

December              Deployed in Malta with Squadron.

 

1 9 5 6

 

January                  Deployed during minesweeping exercises with Squadron in central Mediterranean

to                            Visited Bizerta and Messina.

February

 

March                    Deployed with Squadron in Malta

to

April

 

May                        Deployed with Squadron during minesweeping exercises in western Mediterranean.

                                Visited Sardinia.

 

June                        Deployed with Squadron in Malta

to                            Prepared for operations against Egypt after Suez Canal nationalised.

August

 

September             Deployed with Squadron in support of operations in eastern Mediterranean.

                                New Commanding Officer, Captain J H Walwyn OBE RN appointed.

                                (Also Captain, Inshore Flotilla, Mediterranean.

                                Later Rear Admiral CB, OBE RN)

 

October                  Took part in Suez operations for support of Squadron.

to                            Based at Famagusta. (Operation MUSKETEER)

November

 

December

                24th        Returned to Malta with Squadron on release from MUSKETEER.

 

1 9 5 7

 

January                  Deployed with Squadron in Malta.

 

February                Routine docking and essential repairs.

 

March                    Deployed in support of Squadron during minesweeping exercises in the western

                                Mediterranean.

                                Visited Monaco and La Spezia.

 

April                       Deployed with Squadron in Malta.

 

May                        Deployed for support of Squadron during Anti-smuggling and gun-running Patrols

to                            Deployed with Squadron for minesweeping exercises. Based at Famagusta.

June

 

July                         Under refit in Malta.

 

August                  On completion of post refit trials rejoined Squadron.

 

September             Deployed in support of Squadron during minesweeping exercises in Adriatic.

                                Visited Trieste and Bari with snips of Squadron.

 

October                  Deployed in Malta with Squadron.

 

November              Deployed at Famagusta to support minesweepers carrying out patrol duties off Cyprus

                                Visited Beirut for R&R.

                22nd       Assisted in salvage of ss AFRICAN PRINCE

                                (Note: Salvage payments made in 1960 varied between £62 and £1.50).

 

December              Deployed with Squadron in Malta

 

1 9 5 8

 

January                  Routine clocking and essential repair in Malta.

 to                           Resumed Squadron support duties on completion.

February

 

March                    Deployed in support of ships of Squadron during minesweeping exercises in western

                                Mediterranean.

                                Visited Gibraltar and Minorca.

                31st         New Commanding Officer appointed: Captain J S Dalglish CVO RN.

                                (Also Captain, Inshore Flotilla, Mediterranean.)

 

April                       Deployed in support of minesweepers carrying out patrols off Cyprus.

                                Based at Famagusta

                                Provided support during minesweeping exercise..

 

May                        Deployed in western Mediterranean for support of Squadron during exercises.

                                Visited Naples with ships of Squadron.

 

June                        Exercise support in continuation.

                                Visited Majorca.

 

July                         Deployed in Malta with Squadron.

                                Prepared for support of Squadron during exercises in Red Sea..

 

August                  Passage to Aden with Squadron

                                Carried out minesweeping exercises on passage.

 

September             Deployed at Aden.

                                Passage to Aqaba and carried out exercises on passage.

                                Passage to Malta with Squadron.

 

October                  Deployed at Malta with Squadron.

 

November              Deployed in support of ships of Squadron during minesweeping exercises in the

to                            central Mediterranean.

December              Visited Civitaveccia and Benghazi with Squadron.

 

1 9 5 9

 

January                  Under refit in Malta

to

March

 

April                       Resumed support duties with Squadron on completion of post refit trials

 

May                        Deployed in support of Squadron during minesweeping exercises in the western Mediterranean.

to                            Visited Gibraltar, Palma, Majorca and La Spezia.

June

 

July                         Took part with ships of Squadron in Exercise DRAGEX in eastern Mediterranean.

                                Visited Izmir, Turkey with ships of Squadron,

 

August                  Deployed in support of ships of Squadron during minesweeping exercises off coast of Sicily.

                                Visited Augusta with ships of Squadron.

                16th        New Commanding Officer: Captain A T F G Griffin RN appointed.

                                (Also Captain Inshore Flotilla, Mediterranean.

                                Later Admiral Sir Anthony GCB RN).

 

September             Deployed in Malta with Squadron.

 

October                  Nominated for service at Singapore for support of 104th Minesweeping Squadron being

                                transferred to Far East Station.

                21st         Took passage from Malta for Singapore.

 

November              On passage with six CMS of Squadron with calls at Aden, Bombay and Colombo.

 

December              Joined Far East Station as part of Inshore Flotilla, Far East.

                                (Note : Two more CMS joined Squadron after arrival).

 

1 9 6 0

 

January                  Deployed at Singapore in support of Squadron.

to

February

 

March                    Deployed in support of 104th and 120th Minesweeping Squadrons during series of joint

                                exercises in South China Sea.

                                Visited Hong Kong with minesweepers.

 

April                       Deployed at Singapore in support of Squadron.

                                Carried out first trials in Far East of Pilotless Target Aircraft for gunnery firings by surface

                                ships.

 

 May                       Deployed for support of minesweepers during patrols of North Borneo.

                                Visited Sandakan.

                                Provided support for minesweepers during Fleet Exercise DRAGNET.

 

June                        Exercise support in continuation.

                                Visited Bangkok with Fleet units.

                13th        Stood by tug MISS EUROPA towing mv LAKE BURNABY which had grounded 100 miles

                                NE of Sandakan.

                                Continued passage to Singapore after arrival of tug AMBASSADOR.

                                Taken in hand for refit at Singapore.

                29th        New Commanding Officer, Captain D L Davenport OBE RN appointed.

                                (Also Captain Inshore Flotilla, Far East.

                                Later Rear Admiral CB, OBE RN.)

 

July                         Under refit.

to

November

 

December              Post refit trials and prepared for operational support duties.

 

1 9 6 1

 

January                  Visited Penang before support of Squadron ships during minesweeping exercises in Malacca

                                Strait with Royal Malayan Navy.

 

February                Deployed in support of Squadron during exercises of NE coast of Malaya.

                                Flag of CinC, FES worn during MS104 exercises off Pulau Tioman.

                                (Note :Sir Clifford Jarrett new Secretary of the Admiralty visited ship.)

 

March                    Deployed at Hong Kong for support of Squadron during local exercises.

                                Return passage with Squadron ships to Singapore.

 

April                       Deployed at Singapore in support of Squadron.

 

May                        Deployed in support of ships of Squadron during minesweeping operation.

                                (Note: This was to clear Balabak Strait (Paitan Bay) of mines laid by RAAF in WW2 in

                                order to expand timber export from British North Borneo.)

                                Support of MS104 and MS120 lasted 2-3 weeks

.                               No mines found but the channels were widened and confirmed they were safe for

                                future use.

                                US Navy minesweepers also involved for 3 days.

                                R&R period at Sandakan during operation with notable hospitality from British Community

.                               Visited Subic Bay, Luzon Island in Philippines with ships of Squadron on completion of

                                clearance work.

 

July                         Routine docking at Singapore.

 

August                  Carried out Diplomatic visit to Sourabaya, Java with 4 ships of Squadron.

                                Exchanged calls and had sporting fixtures with Indonesian Navy;

                                Ship open to visitors.

                                (Note: This was the last formal visit to Indonesia before KONFRONTASI began in

                                December 1962.)

 

September             Deployed in support of Squadron at Singapore.

                                Visited Jesselton, North Borneo), Kuching and Sibu, Sarawak.

                                (Note: Governor of Sarawak, Sir William Goode on board during stay at Kuching.

                                Visit to Sibu, 150 miles up Rajang River, first by RN ship for 50 years

 

October                  Deployed in support of Squadron ships during minesweeping exercises off Borneo.

                                Visited Hong Kong and Tai Po in New Territories.

 

November              Provided support to ships of Squadron during major SEATO minesweeping exercise in Gulf

to                            of Siam.

December              Based at Sattahip, Eastern Thailand.

                                (Note: US and Royal Thai Navies took part.)

                                On completion visited Bangkok.

                                (Note: Party of 150 went to War Grave Cemeteries at KANCHANABURI and

                                CHUNGKAI.)

                                Visited NHA TRANG in South Vietnam.

                                Prepared for passage to India with ships of Inshore Flotilla.

                                Towed disabled Indonesian trading vessel to Malacca.

                                Spent Xmas at Penang.

 

1 9 6 2

 

January                  Passage to Colombo with call at Madras.

                                Passage to Cochin to collect four minesweepers of Royal Indian Navy.

                                Passage to Trincomalee with ships of Inshore Flotilla and RIN minesweepers.

                                Joined ships taking part in Exercise JET62 at Trincomalee.

 

February                Provided support to minesweepers during Multi-National Exercise in the Malacca Strait off

                                Port Dickson (Exercise MONIJET - Part of larger Exercise JET62).

                                (Statistical Note: Total Distance steamed on return Singapore - 5,100 miles.)

                17th        New Commanding Officer, Captain J M Townley RN appointed.

                                (Also Captain, Inshore Flotilla, Far East.)

 

March                    Provided support to ships of Squadron during minesweeping exercises off Borneo

                                Visited Manila with ships of Squadron.

 

April                       Deployed at Hong Kong with Squadron.

 

May                        Taken hand for refit on return to Singapore.

 

June                        Under refit.

to

July

 

August                  On completion of post refit trials rejoined Inshore Flotilla.

                                Provided support during minesweeping exercises in Gulf of Siam.

                                Visited Saigon.

                                Deployed for patrol off North Borneo.

 

September             Provided support during minesweeping exercise off east coast of Malaya.

                                (Operation PAULA TIOMAN).

 

October                  Passage to Hong Kong

                                Squadron. Visited Subic Bay.

 

November              Visited Bangkok and party went to British War Graves Commission cemetery

 

December              Deployed at Singapore with Flotilla.

                5th          (Note: Indonesian insurgency commenced in Borneo.).

                                Embarked troops for passage to Brunei.

                                Deployed in support of military operations in Borneo.

 

1 9 6 3

 

January                  Deployed with Flotilla in support of operations in Borneo.

                                Carried out interception patrols and landed RM Commando unit.

 

 

February                Routine docking and emergency defect repair at Singapore.

 

March                    Deployed for support of Flotilla off Borneo.

                                Carried cut interception patrols.

 

April                       Passage to Hong Kong for final visit and R&R.

                                Resumed support duties off Borneo.

 

May                        Returned to Singapore and relieved by HMS MANXMAN as Support Ship for Inshore

                                Squadron, Far East.

 

June                        Nominated for reduction to Reserve on arrival in UK.

                                Took passage to Portsmouth via Gann and Aden.

 

July                         Passage through Mediterranean with call at Gibraltar.

                11th        Arrived at Portsmouth to Pay-off.

 

August                  Reducing to Reserve status at Portsmouth.

to                            De-stored and Laid-up

December

 

F i n a l   P h a s e

 

HMS WOODBRIDGE HAVEN remained in Reserve Fleet at Portsmouth until 1965 when she was sold to BISCO for demolition by Hughes Bolcow  The ship arrived in tow at the breakerís yard in Blyth on 12th August 1965.

 

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