Chediston M1121

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Chediston                                    Curlew

Curlew Saved ? Read about the possibility here.

HMAS Curlew, M1121 Ton Class Minesweeper

Formerly HMS Chediston, update. By Clive Dennison

Members will probably be aware that the Ton Class minehunter HMAS Curlew (formerly HMS Chediston) has recently been purchased by a new owner Mr Kris Mitchell. There has been much on the internet following the sale regarding proposed possible use and any possible restoration of the vessel.

As an association we should be very relieved that the vessel has, in its current state for now, been saved from final demise which could easily have included scrappage, but its future is still uncertain. I have contacted Kris offering support and access to the many original ships drawings and technical information which we have in the Ton Class Association archives, if these could help secure longer term preservation. I have supplied him ( at no cost to me or the TCA ) with digital copies of approximately 80 original Ton class ships drawings , from HMS Kellington and HMS Bronington , these were primarily of electrical power supply systems. I have also provided information from original ships logs which we hold regarding likely fuel consumption for main engine and power generation equipment, which Kris needed for planning any move from Tasmania, most likely via assisted tow.

Kris has been posting numerous photographs and regular videos on two Facebook pages (Ex HMAS Curlew and Ton Class MCMVS) showing ship internals plus postings of his possible plans.

As of 01/08/18, based on the information I have at present, the vessel is still in its long term berth in the small port of Margate south of Hobart Tasmania, Kris has been liaising with Maritime Authorities to obtain certification to leave the port and transfer the vessel to a port on the Australian mainland, possibly Eden NSW, but still I believe to be confirmed.

As for the long term fate and usage of the vessel, Kris has raised several options; his prime usage looks to be to cater for the backpacker hostel / accommodation market, whilst other suggestions of advertising, filming, promotional or even holding navy reunions etc are muted.  He continues to seek sponsorship and other assisted funding. He is genuinely keen to retain and restore as much of the original vessel as possible. He has recently had exposure of the vessels upcoming departure from Tasmania on several Australian media channels , he is also hoping that the vessels eventual arrival in Australia will see an increase in assistance from interested parties and increased manpower to help with the project

There are conflicting views on the actual state of the vessel, particularly Hull and decks etc whilst videos on FB suggest that much of the vessels machinery etc is in reasonable state given its considerable age, there has unfortunately been many varied items removed from the vessel by individuals who thought the vessel was destined for scrappage rather than restoration. Kris is keen to point out that this was not the fault of the previous owner but others not directly involved with the vessel.

Kris is making efforts to recover equipment which was removed from the vessel recently, with some success and some but not all items returned.

The vessel has its main engines still in situ but these will require mods to starting equipment before they can be ran up. Two of the three generators have been ran recently and main switchboard and some electrical supplied tested. Assisted rudder diesels are in situ. The main configuration of the accommodation areas appear unchanged except for some minor items being removed. The 40/60 Bofor was removed some time ago and he is keen to source a replacement! Apparently some do come up for sale on the internet!

I am not sure Kris’s exact business or career background, but it is obvious that he wishes to preserve the heritage and Naval history of what is obviously one of only a very small number of similar vessels; we will watch the progress of the project with great interest.

Clive Dennison

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Latest News December 2017 supplied by Garry Towler

I thought the group would like to know that the former HMAS Curlew a former Royal Navy Ton Class is for sale down here in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and must be moved from its present location at the Margate Marina south of Hobart by the end of the month or it risks being seized and potentially broken up.  I believe the asking price is $300,000 AU. 

She is reported to still be in running order but I imagine out of survey.  She hasn’t been slipped since arriving in Hobart either.

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CHEDISTON, Sold to Australia and re-named ‘CURLEW’ in 1962, is still afloat in Hobart, Tasmania. She was owned by Gary HAMMER but current situation unknown.

HMS CHEDISTON M1121

Laid Down: 30th April 1952
Completed: 28th September 1954
Built By: Montrose Shipyard, Montrose, Angus
Commissioned: October 1954
Paid Off:
Disposal:

Significant Events:
8th October 1954 arrived at Hythe – part of Reserve Fleet
9th November 1954 Allocated to Tay Division RNVR
14th December 1954 At Dundee – part of 101st MSS
21st to 28th April 1955 At Kristiansand, Norway as escort to HM The Queen
11th August 1955 Officially re-named HMS MONTROSE
23rd to 28th July 1956 Exercise WAVEX 4 with 16 other RN Ships 12 of which were Reserve Tenders
February 1957 Reverted to HMS CHEDISTON
21st April 1961 Purchased by Australian Government for £260,000
21st August 1962 Commissioned into Royal Australian Navy as HMAS CURLEW
1967 At Sydney converting to a Mine hunter.
January 1969 Pennant number M1121 amended to 1121

Outline of Operational Career:
14th December 1954 part of 101st MSS at Dundee.
1955 & 56 various exercises and foreign visits.
November 1958 at Chatham awaiting repairs & preservation – reduced to Reserve Fleet based at Hythe. 1959 & 1960 at Hythe fitted with ARK.
21st April 1961 Purchased by Australian Government & towed to Blyth Dry Dock for Australian refit with HMS ALCASTON.
21st August 1962 Commissioned into Royal Australian Navy as HMAS CURLEW.
1st October 1962 Passage from Portsmouth to Gibraltar with five other Tons, purchased by Australia, plus an Australian Naval Tanker.
Arrived Darwin November 1962 via Malta. Port Said, Aden, Colombo, and Singapore.

The Minesweepers, generally speaking, had an uneventful passage from the UK to Australia, but towards the end of the long run there was some ‘fun’ and an unexpected incident outside Sydney Heads. After leaving Townsville, where mail was collected and some personnel went on leave, the force proceeded leisurely down the east coast. Being a few hours ahead of programme the ships paid a short visit to Trial Bay, to ‘tidy up’ and look ship shape before making their formal entry into Sydney. The arrival of the ships in Trial Bay had an amusing aftermath. As the ships anchored about 400 yards off shore, a section of shore watchers, unaware of their identity, thought that a foreign force of ships was invading their area. Many rushed to the District Officer at South West Rock Pilot Station, Mr. N.O. O’Keefe, and agitatedly told him the Indonesians were landing. They were very much relieved when Mr.O’Keefe informed them all was well.

November 1963 In Darwin area for Oceanographic Survey Clearance of channel into Tonoley Harbour, Bougainville where 150 mines had been laid by United States aircraft in 1943.

February 1964 Took part in search for survivors following collision between HMAS MELBOURNE and HMAS VOYAGER.

1970
27/05 Following a full scale alert that a bomb had been planted on a QANTAS 707, the Royal Australian Navy was requested to despatch all available ships to
Sydney and Botany Bay. The guided missile destroyer PERTH steamed 90
miles up the coast from Jervis Bay. The destroyer escorts DERWENT and
TORRENS and the submarine OVENS were exercising off Broken Bay,
another submarine OTWAY proceeded from Sydney harbour. The patrol boat
BOMBARD and the minesweepers CURLEW, SNIPE and HAWK came from
Sydney. By 1800 three destroyers, two submarines, a patrol boat, two
minesweepers and a mine hunter were patrolling 10 square miles of
Botany Bay.

1972
24/09-27/09 Exercise SAPU BERSEH based off Penang with ships of the RN
and RMN.

27/09 The wreckage of a crashed Royal Malaysian Air Force Sabre jet
was located by RAN Mine hunters at the Northern entrance to Penang
Harbour in Malaysia. The aircraft crashed into the sea after the pilot
ejected safely on 27/9. HMAS’s CURLEW and SNIPE were requested to
search for the wreckage. The aircraft was located by high-definition
sonar in 32 feet of water after an 11-hour search.

1975
07/04-12/04 Operation STILL DUSTY based off Port Moresby. A mine hunting
operation carried out in Bootless Bay, near Port Moresby. The operation
was carried out at the request of the Papua New Guinea Government, in preparation for the laying of a telegraphic communications cable from Cairns to Port Moresby by the Australian Overseas Tele-communications Commission and the Papau New Guinea Department of Posts and Telegraphs. The Mine hunters SNIPE and CURLEW and the minesweeper IBIS and men from the 1st Australian Clearance Diving Team found and destroyed 15 mines. During the three-week operation, an area of about 12 sq.km was cleared.

13/05-16/05 Surveying the approaches to Darwin to check the seabed for the effects of Cyclone Tracy. During this operation several sunken trawlers and numerous items of hazardous to shipping were located, most of them victims of Cyclone Tracy and whose fate was previously unknown.

1978
12/03-20/03
At Hobart and in the Hobart areas for exercises. While exercising in New Zealand waters a RAAF F111 fighter-bomber ditched in 50 metres of water in the Hauraki Gulf. HMAS’s CURLEW and MIMBALA were despatched to locate and recover the wreckage. After three weeks the job had been completed and 80% of the aircraft had been recovered, including a section 16 x 4 metres and weighing 8 tonnes and several engine components vital to the determination of the cause of the crash.

2 Responses to Chediston M1121

  1. Last para – 1978 – the second ship was HMAS Kimbla (NOT Mimbala), a boom defense vessel converted to diving tender!

    Location and recovery of an RAAF F111 Aircraft from the seabed of Hauraki Gulf New Zealand. The lift of the largest section of fuselage was undertaken by HMAS Kimbla. Picture here: http://dialabull.net/hunter.html

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