HMS Fittleton (M1136)

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Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Fittleton
Builder: J. Samuel White, Southampton
Launched: 5 February 1954
Renamed: HMS Curzon between 1960 to 1975
Fate: Sunk in collision with HMS Mermaid on 20 September 1976
Raised and sold for scrapping
General characteristics
Class & type: Ton-class minesweeper
Displacement: 440 tons
Length: 152 ft (46.3 m)
Beam: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Draught: 8 ft (2.4 m)
Propulsion: Originally Mirrlees diesel, later Napier Deltic, producing 3,000 shp (2,200 kW) on each of two shafts
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Armament: 1x Bofors 40 mm gun
1x Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
1x M2 Browning machine gun

HMS Fittleton was a Ton class minesweeper of the Royal Navy. She was assigned to the Royal Naval Reserve and operated from HMS Sussex, but manned by members of both the Sussex division and the London division (HMS President). She was sunk in a collision with HMS Mermaid on 20 September 1976 whilst on manoeuvres in the North Sea. Twelve volunteer Royal Naval Reserve personnel lost their lives making this the worst peacetime accident involving the Royal Naval Reserve.

Sinking[edit]

The ship was a wooden hulled minesweeper that had been allocated for Royal Naval Reserve training. During a large NATO Exercise, about 80 miles (130 km) north of Texel in the North Sea HMS Mermaid and HMS Fittleton were involved in an exercise involving the two ships sailing close to each other for a line transfer. The Fittleton was caught in a low pressure area that exists near to the hull of a ship underway and was drawn close to the frigate HMS Mermaid by hydrodynamic forces. A minor collision ensued and the Fittleton moved forward to try and exit the situation but instead was hit amidships by the bow of the much larger HMS 'Mermaid' and turned over within a minute.

Some survivors were picked from the sea and German and Dutch vessels joined Royal Navy ships in searching for survivors with divers going onto the upturned hull before it sank some hours later. The following day a marine crane lifted the wreck of the Fittleton out of the water and the ship was taken to Den Helder in the Netherlands where the ship was made watertight and she was then towed back to Chatham Dockyard. Five bodies were found on the ship but seven were missing presumed drowned.

The Fittleton was scrapped the following year and HMS Mermaid was subsequently sold to the Malaysian Navy. A full enquiry into the disaster took place. A memorial window was commissioned for the church at Fittleton in Wiltshire.

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