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Mine Clearance

Only 2 mine sweepers (Fermoy & Abingdon) operated in Malta up until the convoy Operation Harpoon in June 1942 when HM Minesweepers
Hebe, Speedy, Hythe and Rye arrived with the convoy.

During 1942 tugs were converted to minesweeping duties. The first of these auxilliary minesweepers were St.Angelo, Andromeda & Justified.

Parachute mines started to be dropped in the Spring of 1941. Both harbours were targetted. One mine landed on the ground near the shelters at the Sliema ferry landing.
At the time the experts suggested it took 23 seconds for the delay mechanism to trigger the 1500 lb of heavy explosive payload.
A look out post was situated on the spur off Manoel Island to log each point of impact these mines made in the water so they could be dealt with.



January 1942. Abingdon was machine gunned in harbour while sweeping for mines.


Converted from a tug to a minesweeper. Photo above taken just prior to WWII from the A.J.Magee collection.


Drifter converted to minesweeping duties. Sunk 24th May 1942 by a mine in the harbour approaches.
The crew which lost their lives were - Debattista, Joseph, Seaman, E/JX 146442, MPK, Farrugia, Vincent L N J C, Able Seaman, E/JX 251984, MPK, Grima, Paul, Stoker, E/KX 117530, MPK, Said, Joseph, Stoker, E/KX 87265, MPK.


Tug converted to a minesweeper. Arrived in Malta in 1935 just before St.Angelo. Sunk by bombing April 1942.


Fleet minesweeper. Hit by a bomb whilst in No.5 drydock. The bomb hit the bridge & went straight through the hull.


A corvette converted to mine clearance 1941.


Arrived in Malta on Operation Harpoon in June 1942. Damaged by Italian gunfire & a mine during Operation Harpoon on sailing to Malta. She required a month in drydock to repair.


Arrived in Malta on Operation Harpoon in June 1942


Another drifter converted to minesweeping duties. In March 1941 she lifted 2 mines in the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour & another using an acoustic hammer in Grand Harbour. This exploded very near to the floating dry dock.


Crewed entirely by a Maltese crew. In May 1941 she was clearing mines in Suda Bay, Crete. In command was Petty Officer Anthony Debattista who was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.


A drifter which was utilised as a minesweeper. Magnetic skid sweep. Armed with 1 Lewis machine gun which was used to fire bursts into the water to neutralise acoustic mines. Also fitted with an acoustic hammer which was lowered over her bow.
On February 19th 1941 lifted a ground mine just outside the breakwater.
In March she swept the submarine
Regent into harbour. She lifted 3 mines in the entrance to Grand Harbour, one of which exploded causing damage to the ship which was beached.


Arrived in Malta on Operation Harpoon in June 1942


Tug converted to minesweeping duties. Arrived in Malta in 1935 where she was based at Fort St.Angelo to take up duties with the Mediterranean Fleet.
Sunk by a mine 30th May 1942 on coming into Grand Harbour after sweeping a channel on the approaches.


Arrived in Malta on Operation Harpoon in June 1942


Photo taken between 1943 - 46 ?
Photo courtesy of Margaret Hodgson


Airship used by the US Navy after the war to clear mines in the sea around Malta.
It would hover low over the sea & put out electric charges into the water.
This photo on show at the Malta Aviation Museum.


A Naval History of Malta 1798 - 1979 Book by Peter Elliott