Allied Warships

HMS Seaham (J 123)

Minesweeper of the Bangor class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantJ 123 
ModReciprocating engined 
Built byLobnitz & Co. Ltd. (Renfrew, Scotland) 
Ordered9 Sep 1939 
Laid down15 Oct 1940 
Launched16 Jun 1941 
Commissioned19 Dec 1941 
End service 

Allocated to Fishery Protection services in 1946.
Sold to Burma on 11 August 1947 for use as a relief pilot vessel and survey ship based in Rangoon being renamed Chinthe (Lion).
Sunk in 1948 by an uncharted Japanese mine.


Commands listed for HMS Seaham (J 123)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt. Robert Ernest Brett, RNR1 Nov 194117 Jan 1945
2T/A/Lt.Cdr. Desmond Roberts Hopking, DSC, RNVR17 Jan 19457 Dec 1945

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Notable events involving Seaham include:

11 Jun 1942

Operation Vigorous.

Convoy MW 11 from ports in the Eastern Mediterranean to Malta.

Operation Vigorous in the Eastern Mediterranean took place at the same time of Operation Harpoon in the Western Mediterranean.

11 June 1942.

On 11 June 1942, a diversionary convoy, MW 11C, departed Port Said for Malta. It was made up of the following transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Bhutan (British, 6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Calcutta (British, 8063 GRT, built 1940) and Rembrandt (Dutch, 8126 GRT, built 1941).

The convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Airedale (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN).

The four transports all had an MTB in tow. These were HMS MTB 259, HMS MTB 261, HMS MTB 262 and HMS MTB 264.

The convoy proceeded eastwards and on 12 June the convoy was joined while near Alexandria by the escort destroyer HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

12 June 1942.

On 12 June 1942, convoy MW 11A departed Haifa for Malta. It was made up of the following transports; Ajax (British, 7540 GRT, built 1931), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937), Elizabeth Bakke (British, 5450 GRT, built 1937) and Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925).

On depature from Haifa this part of the convoy was escorted by the detroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN).

Also on 12 June 1942, convoy MW 11B departed Port Said to join up with convoy MW 11A. It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bulkoil (American (tanker), 8071 GRT, built 1942) and Potaro (British, 5410, built 1940).

It was escorted by the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN) and HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN).

13 June 1942.

Convoy MW 11C turned back eastward after dark on the 12th and joined convoys MW 11A and MW 11B near Alexandria on the 13th. The Hunt-class escort destroyers escorting convoy MW 11C were sent to Alexandria to fuel.

The transport City of Calcutta had been damaged by a near miss at 2100C/12 while the convoy was still proceeding to the west. She had been detached and was now escorted to Tobruk by HMS Croome and HMS Exmoor. The four MTB's that were in tow of the four merchant ships of convoy MW 11C, were slipped and also sent to Tobruk due to the bad weather conditions. MTB 259 however was damaged and sunk.

The transport Elizabeth Bakke was unable to keep up with the convoy and was therefore detached from convoy MW 11A to return to Alexandria. The decoy ship Centurion joined the convoy from Alexandria. This ship was disguised as a battleship.

The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, CB, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, RN) and HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, RN) departed Alexandria in the afternoon to relieve all the fleet destroyers which were with the convoy at that time. The rescue ships Antwerp (British, 2957 GRT, built 1920) and Malines (British, 2969 GRT, built 1921) took passage to the convoy with these destroyers. The destroyers they were to relieve were then to proceed to Alexandria to fuel. The corvettes HMS Delphinium (Cdr.(Retd.) R.L. Spalding, RN), HMS Erica (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Riley, RNR), HMS Primula (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.H. Fuller, RNR) and HMS Snapdragon (T/Lt. P.H. Potter, RNR) also joined the convoy escort from Alexandria.

At 1730C/13 the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron, which was in overal command, sailed from Alexandria in HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) with HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers: HMAS Napier, HMAS Nestor, HMAS Nizam, HMAS Norman, HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin, HMS Inconstant, HMS Fortune, HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Hotspur and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton, HMS Airedale, HMS Aldenham, HMS Beaufort, HMS Eridge, HMS Hurworth and HMS Tetcott (Lt. R.H. Rycroft, RN).

14 June 1942.

HMS Erica had to be detached to Mersa Matruh during night of 13th/14th due to defects.

The escort destroyers HMS Croome and HMS Exmoor rejoined the convoy at daylight coming from Tobruk.

The transport Aagtekerk was unable to keep up with the convoy and was ordered to proceed to Tobruk escorted by HMS Tetcott and HMS Primula. She was later attacked by aircraft, set on fire and had to be grounded near Tobruk. She was later declared a total loss.

The minesweepers HMS Boston (Lt. D.H.G. Coughlan, RNR) and HMS Seaham (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Brett, RNR) joined the convoy coming from Tobruk.

During the afternoon and evening the convoy and escort were heavily bombed. The transport Bhutan was hit and sank while the transport Potaro was damaged but she was able to remain with the convoy. The rescue ships picked up crew and passengers from the Bhutan following which they parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Tobruk.

In the early evening it was reported that Italian warships had left Taranto.

15 June 1942.

Rear-Admiral Vian ordered the convoy to turn back at 0145C/15 so that an air attack could launched on the enemy fleet before contact could be made. During the night of the 14th/15th the convoy was constantly illuminated by aircraft flares and was also attacked by E-Boats and submarines. HMS Newcastle was hit forward by an E boat (S 56) torpedo around 0300C/15, her speed being reduced to 24 knots and her forward turret was put out of action. HMS Hasty was torpedoed and damaged also byan E boat (S 55) at 0525C/15 and later had to be scuttled by HMS Hotspur which also rescued her crew, only 12 of the crew of HMS Hasty were lost.

At 0630C/15 the convoy turned west again, but had to turn back to the east at 0930C/15 when the enemy was only 100 miles to the west and air attacks had not developed. At 1115C/15 a Beaufort torpedo bomber striking force reported hits on the two Littorio battleships, and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean ordered the convoy to turn westward once again. However the enemy continued to proceed to the south-east, apparently not reduced in speed. Rear-Admiral Vian, therefore, maintained his course to the eastward.

There were heavy air attacks with mainly Ju-88's and Ju-87's throughout the day and torpedo bombers attacked at dusk. Both Centurion and HMS Birmingham were damaged, but were able to continue. HMS Airedale was hit and she was later scuttled by HMS Aldenham and HMS Hurworth, casualties were fortunately once again slight. HMAS Nestor was also hit and immobilized but she did not sink and taken in tow by HMS Javelin with HMS Beaufort and HMS Eridge escorting the tow.

By 1630C/15 it had been reported that the enemy fleet had turned northward and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean again ordered the convoy to turn to the westward if in any way possible. Shortage of fuel and ammunition, however, did not permit this, and Rear-Admiral Vian was instructed to return to Alexandria with his whole force.

Submarines then intercepted the enemy fleet, but a simultaneous air attack caused the enemy to alter course and unfortunately the attacks could not be pressed home. The heavy cruiser Trento was damaged by the air attack and later sunk by HMS P 35 (Lt. S.L.C. Maydon, RN) while making her way back to Italy. HMS P 35 also reported one torpedo hit on a Littorio-class battleship but this was not the cast, she had missed the Vittorio Veneto.

16 June 1942.

At 0126C/16 HMS Hermione was torpedoed by the German submarine U-205 and sank shortly afterwards taking 88 of her crew with her. HMS Aldenham, HMS Beaufort and HMS Exmoorrescued 498 of her crew.

The efforts to tow the damaged HMAS Nestor had to be abandoned at 0530C/16 and she was scuttled by HMS Javelin who then proceeded to rejoin the 15th Cruiser Squadron and its escort.

During the day several attacks on A/S contacts were carried out by the convoy escort, but there was no evidence of damage or a submarine sunk.

In the early evening ships started to arrive back at Alexandria and all the remaining ships arrived there during the evening except the merchant vessels Bulkoil and Ajax which went on to Port Said escorted by HMS Pakenham, HMS Inconstant, HMS Griffin and HMS Fortune. (1)

12 Jul 1943
The Italian submarine Bronzo was captured off Syracuse, Sicily by the British minesweepers HMS Seaham (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Brett, RNR), HMS Boston (Lt. D.H.G. Coughlan, RNR), HMS Poole (Lt. W.L.G. Dutton, RNR) and HMS Cromarty (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Palmer, DSC, RNZNVR).

Bronzo was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS P 714. On 29 January 1944 she was transferred to the Free French as Narval.

12 Jul 1943
HMS Uganda (Capt. W.G. Andrewes, RN) is still operating in the ' Acid area ' off Sicily.

Around 0430B/12, an enemy air attack took place on the convoy anchorage and the beaches. HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) was damaged off Capo Murro di Porco. HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) later towed the damaged ship to Malta.

At 0802B/12, HMS Uganda opened fire on an enemy position with obeservation from a forward observer but efore results came in fire was shifted to the town of Mellini.

At 1205B/12, HMS Uganda opened fire on enemy infantry under observation of a forward observer who later reported that an enemy tank was also present. No final report on the damage done was received but at least five salvoes had been reported to be within at least 10 yards from the target.

Around 1300B/12, an Italian submarine was seen to surface which was immediately engaged by minesweepers which were patrolling to the seaward of HMS Uganda and HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN). The submarine in question was the Bronzo and the minesweepers were the HMS Seaham (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Brett, RNR), HMS Boston (Lt. D.H.G. Coughlan, RNR), HMS Poole (Lt. W.L.G. Dutton, RNR) and HMS Cromarty (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Palmer, DSC, RNZNVR). After a short battle the submarine surrendered to HMS Seaham which then towed the submarine to Syracuse.

Between 1343B/12 and 1415B/12, first HMS Erebus (Cdr.(Retd.) H.W. D'Arcy-Evans, RN) and then HMS Orion bombarded Mellini.

At 1420B/12, HMS Erebus reported seeing a white flag being hoisted near the lighthouse at Augusta. RHS Kanaris was then ordered to close and ascertain the situation.

At 1425B/12, the minesweepers were ordered to start sweeping an approach channel towards Augusta.

At 1440B/12, RHS Kanaris lowered a boat to pass the boom and find out the situation. HMS Uganda and HMS Orion stood by to bombard if necessary.

At 1503B/12, RHS Kanaris passed the boom at Augusta being the first Allied ship to do so.

At 1515B/12, RHS Kanaris was being fired upon. HMS Uganda and HMS Orion immediately opened fire and carried out a short bombardment of the town.

At 1528B/12, HMS Orion reported that a shore battery was continuing to fire at RHS Kanaris but that she kept it quiet with a round every half minute.

At 1546B/12, HMS Exmoor (Lt. D.T. McBarnet, RN) was ordered to support RHS Kanaris.

At 1630B/12, a small gun was reported to be still active in the town and was now being engaged by the two escort destroyers.

Around 1730B/12, HMS Brocklesby (Lt. K.R.S. Leadlay, RN) approached and then entered Augusta harbour.

At 1750B/12, the three escort destroyers departed the harbour and started laying smoke when they were engaged by a light shore battery.

At 1850B/12, the landing ship HMS Ulster Monarch (Lt.Cdr. N.A.F. Kingscote, RNR) arrived off Augusta but was advised not to enter. HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN), HMS Tetcott (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and RHS Kanaris were ordered to give close support.

Around 1930B/12, HMS Ulster Monarch commenced to land Commandoes outside the harbour. Ten minutes later the destroyers engaged shore targets followed another ten minutes later by HMS Uganda.

At 2020B/12, HMS Ulster Monarch reported she had landed around 300 troops.'

At 2030B/13, the bombarding forces of the Acid and Bark area were ordered to join company. (2)

16 Jul 1943
At 0617B/16, HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN) was torpedoed amidships and heavily damaged off Sicily in position 37°06'N, 16°04'E by the Italian submarine Alagi.

HMS Cleopatra was part of ' Force Q ' at that time together with her sister ship HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN). They had been operating east of Sicily during the night.

At 0920B/16, HMS Cleopatra was joined by the tug HMS Oriana.

At 0940B/16, the escort destroyer HMS Eggesford (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) and minesweepers HMS Poole (Lt. W.L.G. Dutton, RNR) and HMS Seaham (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Brett, RNR) joined as A/S screen.

HMS Euryalus, HMS Quilliam and HMS Quail remained with HMS Cleopatra until about 1530B/16 when they set course to proceed to Malta arriving around 1645B/16. Around the same time the Oriana parted company to return to Syracuse.

HMS Cleopatra limped into Malta around 1800B/16.

One officer and twenty-one ratrings were killed in the attack.


  1. ADM 199/650 + ADM 234/353
  2. ADM 53/118642 + ADM 199/943

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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