Wellington as she is today from across the Thames
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Out of service:||1947|
|Fate:||Sold as headquarters ship|
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Owner:||Honourable Company of Master Mariners|
|Status:||Headquarters ship on River Thames|
|Class & type:||Grimsby-class sloop|
HMS Wellington (launched Devonport, 1934) is a Grimsby-class sloop, formerly of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, she served as a convoy escort ship in the North Atlantic. She is now moored alongside the Victoria Embankment, at Temple Pier, on the River Thames in London as the headquarters ship of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners where she is known as HQS Wellington. It was always the ambition of the founding members of the company to have a livery hall. Up to the outbreak of war in 1939, various proposals were examined, including the purchase of a sailing ship, the Archibald Russell.
After the war, it became apparent that the possibility of building a hall in the City of London had been rendered very remote. In 1947, the Grimsby-class sloop Wellington was made available by the Admiralty. The company decided to buy her with money subscribed by the members and convert her to a floating livery hall - an appropriate home for a company of seafarers.
Built at Devonport in 1934, HMS Wellington served in the Pacific mainly on station in New Zealand and China before the Second World War. As built, Wellington mounted two 4.7 inch guns and one 3-inch gun. Additionally, anti-aircraft guns were fitted for self-defence. Depth charges for use against submarines were carried. Wellington served primarily in the North Atlantic on convoy escort duties. She shared in the destruction of one enemy U-boat and was involved in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. A fuller account of Wellington’s war service has been written by Captain A. D. Munro in his book HMS/HQS Wellington. During 1943 she was briefly commanded by Captain John Treasure Jones, at that time a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy Reserve, who would later be the last captain of RMS Queen Mary.
The Grimsby-class anti-submarine sloops of 1933-36, which included HMS Wellington, were the predecessors of the famous Black Swan sloops of 1939, including HMS Starling which sank 14 U-boats, and HMS Amethyst, the hero of the 1949 Yangste Incident. These wartime sloops further evolved during the Battle of the Atlantic into the River and Loch-class ASW frigate types.
HMS President is moored near Wellington on the Embankment. This ship, built as HMS Saxifrage in 1918, was a Flower-class anti-submarine Q-Ship, and is one of the last three surviving warships of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. President was one of the first types of warship built specifically for anti-submarine warfare. Wellington and President together represent the first and second generation ancestors of modern frigates, which are the most numerous type of front-line warship in today's navy.
The 1947 short story "HMS Marlborough Will Enter Harbour" by Nicholas Monsarrat provides a harrowing account of the torpedoing and survival of a convoy escort sloop very similar to HMS Wellington, and presents a vivid picture of wartime life at sea in 1942. Wellington and Marlborough were both military commanders as well as place names, so the real ship may have inspired the fictional name.
After the War, she was converted from being His Majesty’s Ship Wellington to "Head Quarters Ship" HQS Wellington at Chatham Dockyard. The cost of this conversion was met by an appeal to which Lloyd's, Shipping Companies, Livery Companies and many other benefactors generously contributed. It included the installation of a grand wooden staircase taken from the 1906 Isle of Man ferry SS Viper, which was being broken up at the same time. Wellington arrived at her Victoria Embankment berth in December 1948 to continue service as the floating livery hall of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.
In 1991, HQS Wellington was dry-docked at Sheerness for three months during which, apart from extensive steelwork repairs and complete external painting, she received a major refurbishment which included the refitting of all toilet facilities, offices and accommodation areas. For the first time, Wellington was fully fitted with custom-made carpet, and displays were installed of the Company’s marine paintings and artefacts, gold and silver plate, ship models and newly discovered very early 18th century charts.
- Hague, Arnold (1993). Sloops: A History of the 71 Sloops Built in Britain and Australia for the British, Australian and Indian Navies 1926–1946. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-67-3.
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