Allied Warships

HMS Maidstone (F 44)

Submarine Depot Ship of the Maidstone class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine Depot Ship
ClassMaidstone 
PennantF 44 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered 
Laid down17 Aug 1936 
Launched21 Oct 1937 
Commissioned5 May 1938 
End service 
History

Her equipment included a foundry, coppersmiths, plumbers and carpenters work shops. Heavy and light machine shops, electrical and torpedo repair shops and plants for charging submarine batteries. Designed for looking after 9 operational submarines, and capable of supplying over 100 torpedoes and a similar number of mines when required. Besides large workshops, there are repair facilities onboard for all material in the attached submarines and extensive diving and salvage equipment is carried. There were steam laundries, cinema, hospital. chapel. 2 canteens, bakery, barber shop, fully equipt operating theatre and dental surgery.

In September 1939 Maidstone was Depot Ship to the ten submarines of the 1st Submarine Flotilla. In March 1941 she went to Gibraltar. From November 1942 Maidstone was based at Algiers Harbour now the main Allied base in the Mediterranean. In November 1943 she went to the Eastern Fleet. In september 1944 Maidstone and the 8th Submarine Flotilla were transferred from Ceylon to Freemantle in Western Australia to operate in Pacific waters. Late 1945 Maidstone left Fremantle, and en-route to UK the submarine depot ship was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa. Whilst on passage, she was diverted to Macassar to pick up 400 British naval prisoners of war from HMS Exeter, HMS Encounter and HMS Stronghold. In November she arrived at Portsmouth.

1946 Maidstone became mother to the 2nd and 7th, Submarine Flotilla. The 2nd Flotilla comprised operational boats, the latter was specifically a trials and training squadron. Maidstone had a semi-permanent mooring off Monkey Island (Portland) but often put to sea with her brood. In 1951 Maidstone called briefly at Corunna to land a sick rating, but this was not classified as an official visit, although it was the first time a British ship had entered a Spanish harbour since the Spanish Civil War. On 16 June 1955 the submarine HMS Sidon sank in Portland harbour alongside Maidstone twenty minutes after an internal explosion had occurred in the forward torpedo compartment. 13 men lost their lives. A week later, the submarine was raised and the accident was found to be caused by an explosion of the high-test peroxide fuel used in a torpedo. In 1956 Maidstone was the Flag Ship of the C in C Home Fleet. In September 1957, the Russians protested when Maidstone accompanied by the training aircraft carrier HMS Ocean visited Helsinki. In 1959 Maidstone received an extensive refit, allowing her to accommodate nuclear submarines, the 2nd Flotilla was then moved to Devonport. In October 1969 Maidstone was restored and re-commissioned as an accommodation ship for 2,000 troops and sent to Belfast. She arrived under tow at Belfast to serve as barracks for the increased security forces in the area, and for a time as a prison ship for detainees. She retained a small party of naval ship-keepers onboard. On 23 May 1978 Maidstone was broken up for scrap at Rosyth.

 

Commands listed for HMS Maidstone (F 44)

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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Philip Ruck-Keene, RN4 Jan 193814 Nov 1939
2A/Capt. Edward Henry Longsdon, RN20 Nov 193927 May 1940
3Capt. Philip Ruck-Keene, RN27 May 194013 Aug 1940
4Capt. Hugh Meynell Cyril Ionides, RN14 Aug 19409 Sep 1940
5Capt. Oliver Loudon Gordon, RN25 Sep 194010 Mar 1941
6Capt. George Arthur Wallis Voelcker, RN10 Mar 194126 Jun 1942
7A/Capt. George Barney Hamley Fawkes, RN5 Jul 194212 Mar 1944
8Capt. Lancelot Milman Shadwell, RN12 Mar 1944Jan 1946

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Notable events involving Maidstone include:


3 Nov 1939
HMS Maidstone (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Aberdeen (Cdr. H.P. Currey, RN) arrived at Malta. (1)

12 Nov 1939
The submarine depot ship HMS Maidstone (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) departed Gibraltar for Freetown. She is escorted by the light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. T.H. Back, RN). (2)

15 Nov 1939
Around 0630A/15, light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) made rendezvous west of the Canary Islands in approximate position 28°00'N, 20°50'W with the light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) which is escorting the submarine depot ship HMS Maidstone (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) which is on passage from Gibraltar to Freetown. HMS Neptune then took over the escort duties from HMS Capetown. (3)

17 Nov 1939
HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) and HMS Maidstone (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) arrived at Dakar.

HMS Neptune then immediately left again for Freetown. (4)

14 Mar 1940
HMS Maidstone (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) departed Freetown for the U.K. She was escorted by HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) G.B. Lewis, RN). Both ships were to refit in the U.K.

Near Freetown they were escorted by HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN) until 2200/14 after which the destroyers returned to Freetown. (5)

21 Mar 1941
Around 1940A/21, the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and the submarine tender HMS Maidstone (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed the Clyde for Gibraltar. With them was also the troopships Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928) and Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921). They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP).

Around 0800A/22, the destroyer HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN) joined.

Around 1425A/22, the destroyer HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN) joined.

At 1030A/24, HMCS Ottawa and ORP Garland were detached.

At 1800A/24, HMS Ripley and HMCS St. Francis were detached.

At 2050A/26, HMS Dunnottar Castle and the Largs Bay were detached to Freetown.

At 0830A/28, the destroyers HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) joined. (6)

29 Mar 1941
Around 1530A/29, HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Maidstone (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (6)

25 Aug 1944
HMS Surf (Lt. D. Lambert, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee which included a practice attack on HMS Maidstone (Capt. L.M. Shadwell, RN). (7)

25 Aug 1944
On 25 August 1944, the troopship Dunnottar Castle (British, 15007 GRT, built 1936) departed Colombo for Melbourne. She was escorted by the destroyer HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC, RAN) and the frigate HMS Helford (Cdr. C.G. Cuthbertson, DSC, RNR).

On the same day the submarine depot ship HMS Maidstone (Capt. L.M. Shadwell, RN) and the escort carrier HMS Atheling (A/Cdr. H.L. Oliver, RN) departed Trincomalee for Fremantle and Mauritius respectively. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN), HrMs Van Galen (Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Hallifax, RN).

These two groups made rendezvous around 1845FG(-6.5)/26. HMAS Quickmatch was then detached to return to Colombo.

At 0030FG/29, HMAS Nizam, HrMS Van Galen and HMS Pathfinder parted company.

At 0045FG/29, HMS Atheling and HMS Helmford parted company.

This left the Dunnottar Castle and HMS Maidstone proceeding towards Australia escorted by HMS Nigeria.

At 1330H/4, the Dunnottar Castle parted company to proceed to Melbourne.

HMS Maidstone and HMS Nigeria arrived at Fremantle around noon on the 5th.

4 May 1945
HMS Vox (Lt. W.E.I. Littlejohn, DSC, RANVR) conducted attack exercises off Sydney during which HMS Maidstone (Capt. L.M. Shadwell, RN) served as the target. (8)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/108241
  2. ADM 53/107948
  3. ADM 53/107948 + ADM 53/109911 + ADM 199/380
  4. ADM 53/109911
  5. ADM 199/380
  6. ADM 53/113615 + ADM 53/114577 + ADM 53/115052
  7. ADM 173/18905
  8. ADM 173/20352

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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