HMS St. Mellons (W 81)
Rescue Tug of the Saint class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Harland & Wolff Ltd. (Govan, Scotland)|
|Launched||30 Nov 1918|
|Commissioned||30 Dec 1918|
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Notable events involving St. Mellons include:
15 Feb 1940
HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Brazen (Lt.Cdr. M. Culme-Seymour, RN) and HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) arrive at Invergordon. They departed again later the same day escorting the destroyer HMS Duncan (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) that was being towed from Invergordon to Rosyth by the tugs St. Mellons and Norman.
16 Feb 1940
HMS Duncan (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), under tow by the tugs St. Mellons and Norman and their escorting destroyers; HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Brazen (Lt.Cdr. M. Culme-Seymour, RN) and HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) arrive at Rosyth from Invergordon.
11 Apr 1940
Damaging of the destroyer HMS Eclipse.
Around 1630/11, during heavy air attacks on Admiral Forbes main force, the destroyer HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) was hit in the engine room and badly damaged. She was abandoned but later reboarded by men from her sister ship HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) which then took her in tow.
HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) was detached from the Commander-in-Chiefs main force to assist and she took over the tow from HMS Escort. Speed of advance for the tow was only five knots while being screened by HMS Escort and HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN).
At 2015/11 (2115 hours German time), HMS York was attacked with torpedoes by the German submarine U-48 but fortunately all torpedoes prematured.
At 0800/12, the tow was slipped and it appeared to be time to abandon and scuttle HMS Eclipse. However in the end she was taken in tow again by HMS Escort.
In the morning of the 13th the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) joined.
At 1400/14, HMS York parted company and proceeded to Scapa Flow.
On the 16th the tug St. Mellons took over the tow. The destroyers HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN) arrived together with the tug. HMS Hyperion and HMS Hesperus were then detached to Sullom Voe to fuel on completion of which HMS Hesperus rejoined.
Eclipse finally arrived at Lerwick shortly before noon on the 17th.
1 Jun 1940
Sinking of the transport Astronomer.
The transport Astronomer (8401 GRT, built 1917) was en-route from Rosyth to Scapa Flow with naval stores escorted by the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Leicester City (T/Lt. A.R. Cornish, RNR) and HMS Stoke City (Lt.Cdr. N.C.H. Scallan, RNR).
Late in the evening of June, 1st, the Astronomer was hit by one torpedo from the German submarine U-58 but she did not sink.
Early the next day two more torpedoes single torpedoes were fired by the German submarine and one hour after the last hit. The trawlers then picked up the survivors.
A report of the damage to the transport was received at 0100/2 and in response the destroyer HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN) was sent out from Scapa Flow.
At 0215/2 the destroyer HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) departed Scapa Flow to assist HMS Kelvin in the A/S hunt.
The rescue tug St. Mellons departed Scapa Flow but returned after it became apparent that the transport had sunk.
A/S trawler HMS Leicester City obtained an A/S contact in the vicinity at about the time the transport was hit for the last time but she was also busy picking up survivors with together with HMS Stoke City. A total of 104 were picked up by the trawlers which then took them to Aberdeen. HMS Stoke City made a depth charge on a contact she obtained but without result. Apparently this was indeed an attack on U-58
At 0640/2, an aircraft attacked a submarine in position 57°25'N, 00°56'W, twenty five miles south of of the attack position. Destroyers HMS Mashona and HMS Kelvin were ordered to search the area of the aircraft attack but no contact was obtained.
At 1100/2, the destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) and escort destoyer HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) departed Rosyth. HMS Atherstone arrived at Scapa Flow at 2200/2. HMS Encounter was was to join the search for the submarine.
At 1800/2, HMS Atherstone. while en-route to Scapa Flow, reported a line of mines near the sinking position of the Astronomer.
The boom defense vessel HMS Barbican (T/Boom Skr. J.F. Rendall, RNR), escorted by M/S trawler HMS Elm (T/Lt. J. Hutchinson, RNR), was ordered to the area. Barbican recovered the mooring buoys, covered by HMS Encounter and HMS Mashona.
HMS Kelvin returned to Scapa Flow at 0315/3.
HMS Encounter and HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow at 1130/3. (1)
- ADM 199/376
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.