Ton-class minesweeper, HMS Beachampton (P1007)
Vehicle design and history:
The Ton class were a group of 119 coastal minesweepers built for the Royal Navy in the 1950s, and would go on to serve in several other navies, such as the South African Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. The ships were intended to meet the requirments to deal with the threat of seabed mines laid in shallow coastal waters, along with rivers and ports and harbours, which was a task the Algerine-class that preceeded them was ill suited for. Because of this the design of the class drew heavily from lessons learned during the course of the second world war, when it had become clear that laying mines in coastal waters was significantly more effective than the deep sea, though based on this analysis the existing fleet minesweepers were not well suited to deal with. Because of this the Naval Construction Department in bath designed a new vessel in 1947, with the first ship being ordered in September of 1950. The main constructor of the class was John I. Thornycroft & Company, although to meet demand Ton-class vessels were also built at fifteen other yards.
All the vessesl were diesel powered, coming to a pisplacement of 440 tons fully laden, and were mainly constructed of aluminium and other non-ferrous materials, including a hull composed of a double layer of mahogany planking. This small displacement along with a shallow draft gave them some protection against both pressure and contact mines, while also allowing them to easily navigate in shallow inshore waters. The primary armament was one Bofors 40mm cannon, although some south african variants also possessed a Oerlikon 20mm cannon behind the funnel. This was also standard initially on the royal navy vessels, though overtime they were removed and replaced by a M2 Browning 0.5 maachine gun. This was paired with sweeping equiptment for both moored and magnetic mines. Initially the class was planned to be named after insects, but this plan was abandoned in 1952, with the Royal Navy vessels instead being named after British towns and villages ending in “-ton”, hence the name of the class. Of the class sixteen were converted into mine hunters, which included the incorporation of active rudders and the instilation of a Type 193 minehunting sonar and associated equipment, this included the addition of an enclosed bridge, earning the bridge crew of these vessels ire when meeting the crew of other ton class vessels. The Ton-class would go on to serve as patrol vessels in Borneo, Malaysia, Norther Ireland and Hong Kong, and the mine hunters proved a significant role in clearing the Suez Canal after the Yom Kippur war, as well as providing the backbone of the Uk’s fishery protection squadron.
With the downsizing of hte Royal Navy fleet in the 1960s. a vast majority of the ships became base ships for the royal navy reserve, and sea cadets, where they were used to train reserve crews for short periods of time without the need to organise a crew of significant size. Five of the class were permanently converted into patrol craft for policing Hong Kong’s territorial waters in 1971. The vessels chosen for this were the ships: Beachampton, Monkton, Wasperton, Wolverton and Yarnton, which were fitted with a second Bofors 40 mm gun aft of the funnel greatly increasing their firepower. In line with naming conventions at the time, they also received new pennant numbers, which were as follows :Beachampton P1007, Monkton P1055, Wasperton P1089, Wolverton P1093 and Yarnton P1096. These ships would go on serve into the mid 1980s when they were subsequently replaced by the Peacock-class corvettes.
HMS Beachampton was completed on the 30th of July 1954, after a build time of 39 months, and would enter comission on the 29th of July 1956 for the Vernon Training Squadron based at Portsmouth. She would serve in the Royal Navy for 27 years, with the first part of her career remaining as a training ship, until going in for refit in 1965. The ships engine upgrade for Deltic engines was paid off on the 31st of January 1959. After her refit she was recommissioned for service in the persion gulf, taking part in a string of patrols, exercises and visits to areas in the gulf region between 1965 and 1971. This would end on the 14th of august 1971, when she along with HMS Yarnton were transfered to the far east, ariving in Hong Kong on the 17th of september of the same year. It was here that they would be converted into patrol craft, with Beachampton serving with the Hong Kong Patrol Craft Squadron from June of 1972 to January of 1985, when she was releaved of Duty and replaced by HMS Starling, a Peacock-class corvette. With the ship paid off on the 4th of January 1985, she was soon sold to Acorn Shipping of London on the 10th of May 1985, and was borken up at Hong Kong shortly there after.
Image below shows layout for H.M.A.S Curlew, another Ton-class in service with the Royal Australian Navy, modified to a similar configuration as the Hong Kong patrol vessels:
Displacement: 440 long tons (447 t)
Length: 152 ft (46 m)
Beam: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Draught: 8 ft (2.4 m)
Propulsion: Napier Deltic engines , producing 3,000 shp (2,200 kW) on each of two shafts
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Armament: 2 × L/60 Bofors 40 mm cannons
Additional Historical images:
Photo of HMS Beachamopton before her conversion into a Patrol boat:
Additional photo of HMS Beachampton on patrol off Hong Kong in 1977:
Photo showing the five Ton-class ships converted into patrol ships steaming in formation off Hong Kong ( HMS Beachampton P1007, HMS Monkton P1055, HMS Wasperton P1089, HMS Wolverton P1093, HMS Yarnton P1096) 1984: