“On this day in history” HMS Gravelines placed in commission, 1946

“On this day in history” 14 June 1946, Royal Navy Battle-class destroyer HMS Gravelines (D24) was placed in commission.


Ordered in the 1942 naval estimates, Gravelines was built at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, and launched in November 1944. She was not completed until 1946 (RN priorities towards the end of the war did not call for her immediate completion, and indeed many other Battle-class orders were cancelled) and after acceptance trails she was placed immediately in the Reserve Fleet.

In 1949, Gravelines was brought out of reserve and joined 3rd Destroyer Flotilla serving in the Mediterranean with her sister ships HMS Armada (D14), HMS Vigo (D31), and HMS Saintes (D84). Based in Malta, the flotilla served in continuation with the Mediterranean Fleet based in Malta.

In 1951, Gravelines was detached for service East of Suez, serving at Basra during a crisis over proposals for Iraqi oil nationalization.

Gravelines was in reserve again from 1953 to 1955, when she rejoined 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, serving with the Home Fleet.

In 1958, Gravelines commenced a refit at Devonport, but this was cancelled and she was laid up pending disposal. Gravelines was scrapped at Rosyth in 1961.




“On this day in history” HMSM Saga placed in commision, 1945

“On this day in history” 14 June 1945, Royal Navy S-class submarine HMSM Saga (P257) placed in commission.


HMSM Saga underway. (IWM FL18545)

Saga was built at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead and launched in March 1945. She left the builder’s yard in June, and commissioned at Holy Loch on 14 June 1945, Lt P. Thirsk, RNR commanding.

Saga‘s Royal Navy service was short. She was still undergoing working up trails at Scapa Flow and Holy Loch when the war with Japan ended. On 10 February 1946, Saga collided with the fishing vessel Girl Lena in the English Channel, causing the trawler to sink.

In 1948, Saga was sold to Portugal and renamed NRP Nautilo. She continued to serve in the Marinha de Guerra Portuguesa until 1969.


“On this day in history” Royal Navy battleship HMS Mars placed in commission, 1897

On this day in history 8 June 1897, the Royal Navy Majestic-class battleship HMS Mars was placed in commission.


HMS Mars underway, 1898.

Built by Laird Brothers, Birkenhead, Mars was a pre-dreadnought battleship carrying main armament of four Vickers 12-inch Mk VIII guns mounted in twin turrets. Secondary armament included twelve QF 6-inch guns mounted in casemates and twelve QF 12-pounder guns.

Mars served in the Portsmouth Division of the Channel Fleet and took part in the Fleet Review for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and for Edward VII’s Coronation in 1902.


HMS Mars departing Portsmouth, 1901.

During the First World War, Mars served as guard ship on the Humber, then transferred to the Dover Patrol. In 1915, she had her main armament removed and recommissioned as a troopship for service in the Dardanelles campaign. Later, she served as an accommodation ship at Invergordon. Mars was sold for scrap in 1921.


Accomodation ships Algiers, Akbar (former Temeraire), and Mars at Invergordon.


Former Royal Navy submarine HMS Onyx towed to scrapyard

HMS Onyx has left Barrow-in-Furness and is on her way to the ship breakers at Helensburgh. If nobody could raise the funds to preserve her as a museum ship during the last eight years, then it’s unlikely that anyone is going to step in at the last minute and save her.

Story from the North West Evening Mail follows:

Falklands veteran sub leaves Barrow and embarks on her final voyage
Thursday, 01 May 2014

A SUBMARINE left rusting in docks has been towed away after eight years.

HMS Onyx, an Oberon-class vessel which saw service in the Falklands War, was brought to Barrow in 2006 by businessman Joe Mullen as part of plans to use it as a museum.

Mr Mullen paid £117,000 for the sub after an idea by the Barrow branch of the Submariners Association, led by Terry Spurling, that it could become an interactive centrepiece at a submarine heritage centre.

Yesterday HMS Onyx was towed from Buccleuch Dock, in Barrow.

Mr Spurling said: “It is a hope more than anything that she is saved but at the moment she is going to Helensburgh for scrap.

“I happen to know there are people in Helensburgh trying to do what we tried to do here.

“It would be a tragedy if she was to be scrapped, she’s in such good condition internally and she is one of the Falklands boats.

“She’s one of the last O-boats available for a heritage centre, I do hope she is not scrapped.”

HMS Onyx (S21) was built at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1967. She served throughout the Cold War and saw honourable service during the Falklands War, landing special forces along the coast. Decomissioned in 1991, Onyx was placed on display in Birkenhead by the Warship Preservation Trust. In 2006, the trust went into liquidation and Onyx was sold to Barrow businessman Joe Mullen for £100,000. Funds to preserve Onyx as a museum ship were not forthcoming… and so we reach the end of her story.

Royal Navy Whitby-class frigates

HMS Whitby (F36)
built: Cammell Laird and Co Ltd, Birkenhead
laid down: 30 September 1952
launched: 2 July 1954
commissioned: 10 July 1956
paid off: 1974
fate: sold for scrapping 1979

HMS Torquay (F43)
built: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast
laid down: 11 March 1953
launched: 1 July 1954
commissioned: 10 May 1956
paid off: 1985
fate: sold for scrapping 1987

HMS Scarborough (F63)
built: Vickers Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne and Vickers Armstrongs (Engineers) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness
laid down: 11 September 1953
launched: 4 April 1955
commissioned: 10 May 1957
paid off: 1972
fate: 1977

HMS Tenby (F65)
built: Cammell Laird and Co Ltd, Birkenhead
laid down: 23 June 1953
launched: 4 October 1955
commissioned: 18 December 1957
paid off: 1972
fate: sold for scrapping 1979

HMS Eastbourne (F73)
built: Vickers Armstrongs (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne and Vickers Armstrongs (Engineers) Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness
laid down: 13 January 1954
launched: 29 December 1955
commissioned: 9 January 1958
paid off: 1984
fate: sold for scrapping 1985

HMS Blackpool (F77)
built: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
laid down: 20 December 1954
launched: 14 February 1957
commissioned: 14 August 1958
paid off: 1971
fate: sold for scrapping 1980