Germans Built Mine Sweepers for RN

One of the crew makes his way from the bridge down to the main deck of HMT NORTHERN SKY. The trawler is pitching and rolling at slow speed along her patrol lines. There is a slight sea running and she ships water continually, but this is mild weather for trawlers.
One of the crew makes his way from the bridge down to the main deck of HMT NORTHERN SKY. The trawler is pitching and rolling at slow speed along her patrol lines. There is a slight sea running and she ships water continually, but this is mild weather for trawlers. Official Royal Navy photograph by Lt. R.G.G. Coote, courtesy of the Imperial War Musuem. 

 

14 steel hulled, coal fired fishing trawlers were built on order in Germany for a London company which could only get blocked credits out of Nazi Germany by using the money to buy something in Nazi Germany. So the company bought trawlers, each one christened with the first name of ‘”Northern.” Hence they became known as “Northern Class trawlers” although they were not purpose built for the Royal Navy.

Northern Foam, Northern Gem, Northern Pride, Northern Dawn, Northern Sky, Northern Chief, Northern Isles, Northern Princess, Northern Gift, Northern Reward, Northern Rover, Northern Spray, Northern Duke, Northern Sun and Northern Wave.

 

after months at sea, the rough wear on the ship is obvious.
HMT Northern Pride circa toward the end of the war. After many years at sea, the rough wear on the ship is obvious. 

HMT Northern Pride was a built in 1936 by Deschimag, Germany. taken over by the admiralty in August 1939. returned to her owner in November 1945. and scrapped at Gateshead in 1964. Photo and caption courtesy of  harwichanddovercourt.co.uk/warships/trawlers/

 

All 14 were requisitioned by the Admiralty and refitted as mine sweepers and later several were refitted as convoy rescue ships. After being taken-over by the Royal Navy, each was designated with the prefix HMT–His Majesty’s Trawler. These were robust ships and many served as rescue and escort ships on the Murmansk run through the Arctic Sea as well as in the North Atlantic. They swept for mines, rescued people and had enough armaments to give a respectable account of themselves.

 

THE BRITISH TRAWLER NORTHERN GEM. 29 AND 30 JULY 1943, WALLASEY TRAWLER BASE. HMT NORTHERN GEM, A CONVERTED FISHING TRAWLER, HAS SERVED AS AN ESCORT FOR MANY CONVOYS, AND HAS RESCUED MANY SURVIVORS FROM SUNKEN CONVOY SHIPS. (A 18410) De-ammunitioning ship. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151161
THE BRITISH TRAWLER NORTHERN GEM. 29 AND 30 JULY 1943, WALLASEY TRAWLER BASE. HMT NORTHERN GEM, A CONVERTED FISHING TRAWLER, HAS SERVED AS AN ESCORT FOR MANY CONVOYS, AND HAS RESCUED MANY SURVIVORS FROM SUNKEN CONVOY SHIPS. (A 18410) De-ammunitioning ship. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151161

Depending on their operational schedule, they would “de-ammunition” the ship before a boiler clean or a refit since the navy did not want the ship filled with live ammunition while it was being worked on.

 

THE BRITISH TRAWLER NORTHERN GEM. 29 AND 30 JULY 1943, WALLASEY TRAWLER BASE. HMT NORTHERN GEM, A CONVERTED FISHING TRAWLER, HAS SERVED AS AN ESCORT FOR MANY CONVOYS, AND HAS RESCUED MANY SURVIVORS FROM SUNKEN CONVOY SHIPS. (A 18413) 'Stand Easy' study of the men of HMT NORTHERN GEM. In the background is another of the Northern Class trawlers leaving base for a further duty spell. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151164
THE BRITISH TRAWLER NORTHERN GEM. 29 AND 30 JULY 1943, WALLASEY TRAWLER BASE. HMT NORTHERN GEM, A CONVERTED FISHING TRAWLER, HAS SERVED AS AN ESCORT FOR MANY CONVOYS, AND HAS RESCUED MANY SURVIVORS FROM SUNKEN CONVOY SHIPS. (A 18413) ‘Stand Easy’ study of the men of HMT NORTHERN GEM. In the background is another of the Northern Class trawlers leaving base for a further duty spell. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151164

 

 

THE BRITISH TRAWLER NORTHERN GEM. 29 AND 30 JULY 1943, WALLASEY TRAWLER BASE. HMT NORTHERN GEM, A CONVERTED FISHING TRAWLER, HAS SERVED AS AN ESCORT FOR MANY CONVOYS, AND HAS RESCUED MANY SURVIVORS FROM SUNKEN CONVOY SHIPS. (A 18411) HMT NORTHERN GEM's crew. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151162
THE BRITISH TRAWLER NORTHERN GEM. 29 AND 30 JULY 1943, WALLASEY TRAWLER BASE. HMT NORTHERN GEM, A CONVERTED FISHING TRAWLER, HAS SERVED AS AN ESCORT FOR MANY CONVOYS, AND HAS RESCUED MANY SURVIVORS FROM SUNKEN CONVOY SHIPS. (A 18411) HMT NORTHERN GEM’s crew. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205151162

 

AT SEA WITH BRITISH MINESWEEPERS. NOVEMBER 1941, ON BOARD A MINESWEEPING TRAWLER OF THE DOVER COMMAND DURING A SWEEP WITH OTHER MINESWEEPING TRAWLERS OF THE COMMAND. (A 6293) A look-out on the after gun platform of a minesweeping trawler watches other ships of the group moving up to take station. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205140428
AT SEA WITH BRITISH MINESWEEPERS. NOVEMBER 1941, ON BOARD A MINESWEEPING TRAWLER OF THE DOVER COMMAND DURING A SWEEP WITH OTHER MINESWEEPING TRAWLERS OF THE COMMAND. (A 6293) A look-out on the after gun platform of a minesweeping trawler watches other ships of the group moving up to take station. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205140428

 

AT SEA WITH BRITISH MINESWEEPERS. NOVEMBER 1941, ON BOARD A MINESWEEPING TRAWLER OF THE DOVER COMMAND DURING A SWEEP WITH OTHER MINESWEEPING TRAWLERS OF THE COMMAND. (A 6304) Minesweeping trawlers in line ahead on patrol off the South coast. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205140438
AT SEA WITH BRITISH MINESWEEPERS. NOVEMBER 1941, ON BOARD A MINESWEEPING TRAWLER OF THE DOVER COMMAND DURING A SWEEP WITH OTHER MINESWEEPING TRAWLERS OF THE COMMAND. (A 6304) Minesweeping trawlers in line ahead on patrol off the South coast. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205140438

 

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/