RogerBW's Blog

HMS Middleton 29 April 2015

The Hunt-class minesweeper HMS Middleton was open to the public at HMS President. No, they didn't let me look at the engines, and I understand she's recently been given new ones anyway. Images follow: cc-by-sa on everything.

She was tied up at the pier, visible from along the bank.

Inside President, there was a minor effort to recruit for the Royal Naval Reserve. Some firefighting kit:


And diving equipment:

A pleasing model of Ledbury, another of the same class.

The obligatory display of small arms for the kids. (And body armour.)

Memorial window for HMS Fittleton, a minesweeper of the RNR sunk in collision with HMS Mermaid in 1976.

Overall views of superstructure.

Aft, upper deck.

Aft, lower deck.

Forward, 30mm gun mount.

Lower aft superstructure and cable drum for magnetic sweep winch.

Controls for magnetic sweep winch.

Warning placard on boarding.

Magnetic sweep winch drum. (As far as I can see this is no longer in use at all.) To the right, another cable drum which was kept shrouded.

Motor for aft drum.

Demonstration of firefighting gear. EDBA breathing apparatus, orange foam bottle, carbon dioxide and foam extingishers; at the back, thermal imaging camera.

Firefighting gear ("as good as civilian firefighters").

Small details of the sort I love.

Recompression chamber.

Compressed air diving gear. Used for low-hazard jobs.

Heliox diving gear, used down to 60m (the placard said 80m) for up to three hours. It's even more expensive than it looks, because there's near zero magnetic signature, so no steel or iron.

Seafox ROV. Which everyone but the divers regards as the primary weapons system. This is the "I" or Inspection round, of which two are carried; there's a camera in the upper starboard rail, and a light source in the upper port. There are also seventeen "M" or Munition rounds aboard, carrying a 1.5kg armour-piercing charge.

The launch rail is hung over the side to put the thing into the water.

Aft upper level, boats on davits and a minigun over the stern.

More storage. These are small ships and every bit of space needs to be used.

Aft superstructure, engine intake and exhaust vents.

Drains and stopcocks.

On the forward deck, more small arms (really not a big part of shipboard operations, but they have to show the things off).

30mm Oerlikon mount (DS30B). Pure optical aiming, manual control. It's really there for the offshore patrol vessel role, which wasn't mentioned at all on the tour; it's nominally capable against aircraft, but only very low and slow ones.

Ammunition hopper.

Traverse warning signs.

Gun controls.

Ship's bell. Things are still done properly.

Ready-use ammunition for the 30mm.

Inflammables locker.

Small arms, including L85, machine gun, and the second minigun. (They're normally mounted port and starboard.)

Ventilation on the foredeck.

View over the bow.

Escape hatch?

From the port side, view up to the superstructure.



Navigation radar and other sensors.

Tower Bridge, because that's where we were.

The Shard, which apparently one is required to love. I don't.

While we were on the way to the next spot, a flight of Chinooks came over.

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 06:05pm on 29 April 2015

    Am I mistaken, but that looks like a 5.56 minigun to me.

  2. Posted by Owen Smith at 07:01pm on 29 April 2015

    The view from the Shard observation deck is worth the money. I hate the building too, but the view is amazing and the lifts are damned fast.

    I'm glad I didn't waste my time on the Middleton tour, you've not seen any of the parts of the ship I would have wanted to see ie. the engineering sections.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 09:38am on 30 April 2015

    Ashley, I believe it's a standard M134 7.62mm.

    Owen, none of the four warship tours I've done recently has let visitors anywhere near engineering spaces. It's a shame, but I think it's a matter of policy. More oddly, they don't let us near bunk or mess spaces either, which I'd have thought they would do if they wanted to talk about life aboard and encourage us to take the shilling.

  4. Posted by Chris at 11:20am on 30 April 2015

    Yer matelot don't see why a bunch of (insert adjectives and nouns of your choice. which you can garner from "Jackspeak" by Rick Jolly and Tugg) should be allowed to (insert again) fossick about in his things, that's why not. Mind your own (adjective) business!

    They resent having to clear up their bulkheads in case of troublemaking journos.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 11:36am on 30 April 2015

    Chris, fair enough about berthing, but (a) I would imagine they could require one space to be presentable for purposes of recruiting and (b) what about the Mess? Both here and aboard Defender, they seemed to be extremely selective about the jobs they talked about: lots of diving, firefighting, damage control, and guns, but rather less of missile and sensor operation, engineering, navigation, and such like.

  6. Posted by chris at 01:00pm on 30 April 2015

    I was never allowed to see the berths; one time I went round a ship my son was serving on I was allowed into the mess, but I was told by him that this was something he was meant not to do and was only getting away with because of special circs and wanting to show me the fox's mask on the wall -- Hunt class, you see, and that would be an excellent reason not to let anyone in there for that class at least -- and I don't recall ever being offered coffee in any of the others, as it were. I did get shown the bridge, and the laundry, and the bit of deck in the chart room where he was sleeping, and the decontamination set-up.

  7. Posted by RogerBW at 01:13pm on 30 April 2015

    Heh. The chaps I was talking with were very polite about the spaciousness (or lack of it) aboard a Hunt.

  8. Posted by Ron at 10:37pm on 06 May 2015

    I've probably been on approx. 2-3 dozen ship tours (it helps when most of the US Pacific Fleet is home ported within a few miles of your house), but the only time I ever saw an engine room was not aboard the US Navy, but a Canadian DDG.

    Typical USN tours include weather decks, pilot house and CIC, and that's about it (and hangar/well decks aboard aviation/amphib ships). DID get to see the mess and berthing one time aboard a San Antonio-class LPD, but that was the lone exception.

    LPD/DDG tour:

    CVN-76 tour:

    Canadian DDG (plus a lot of Blue Angels):

    CV-61 day cruise:

    CVN-68 day cruise:

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