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Naval News & Reviews

23 March 2016
Author: Ports & Ships


HMS Bronington sunk at her mooring at Vittoria D
Picture by Phil Owen

Britain's last Coniston, or 'Ton' class minesweeper, the former HMS Bronington has sunk at her mooring at Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead, England.

The 63-year old wooden ship has been deteriorating slowly over the years and as far back at 2010 there were warnings that she might sink one day unless urgent further care was taken. That day arrived about a week ago when she settled on the shallow bottom of the dock with her decks awash and water accessing her inner areas.

After settling on her bottom the ship subsequently rolled over onto her side.

HMS Bronington, which incidentally was the only ship to have been captained by Prince Charles during his time in the navy, is rgarded as the last of the 'Ton' class of mineswepers in the Royal Navy. She was launched at the Cook, Welton and Gemmel shipyards in Yorkshire in 1953 and remained in active service until 1988. In the following year the ship was purchased by Salford Quays and opened to the public in 1992. Owevrship later transferred to Mersey Docks & Harbour Company and the ship has been laid up since 2011. The 'Ton' class served not only in the Royal Navy but also in the Australian Navy and the South African Navy. The latter took delivery of ten of these ships of which two, SAS Durban and SAS Windhoek were built specially for the SA Navy, becoming the first new ships to be built directly for the navy. The other eight ships were transferred from the Royal Navy to South Africa. Interestingly, one of these ships remains on display and in the water at Durban's Port Natal Maritime Museum where the ship is currently nearing completion of a refit undertaken by volunteers of the Friends of the Maritime Museum. The museum is open daily (except on Christmas Day and Good Friday) and the minesweeper is accessible at these times.

SAS Durban is very possibly now the only remaining floating 'Ton' class warship.

SAS Durban at the Port Natal Maritime Museum. Picture by Terry Hutson