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Royal Navy Cold War Minelayers

uk 75

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More or less unnoticed in the mid 60s the Royal Navy was able to replace the wartime very fast Minelayer "Manxman" with a new build ship.


Abdiel served nearly to the end of the Cold War in1988. Unlike the famous UK mine countermeasures vessels there is little coverage of minelaying.

I have read that British Rail ferrys were to be used after they had moved troops to Germany. Might have been in Gen. Hackett World War Three.
 

uk 75

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Comprehensive account of UK mines. Modern stuff is right at the end.
Air laying of mines major factor. From 1982 mine ( perhaps Stonefish)developed for RN to replace early 50s types. But after 1992 exercise mines only
 

Hood

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That history shows a pretty lamentable mining capability from the 1970s onwards apart from air-dropped mines. Not buying Stonefish does seem a mistake, but I guess the cutbacks of the time wouldn't allow the funds.
 

TomS

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Well, Abdiel sure wasn't likely to be useful for offensive minelaying, though she could perhaps have been effective in emplacing defensive minefields around British ports if there had been anything worth emplacing. In practice, she was primarily an MCM support ship, with her minelaying confined to emplacing exercise mines in support of training evolutions.

I'm slightly surprised the RN never bought CAPTOR. It seems like a logical extension of GIUK Gap defenses.
 

JFC Fuller

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This is not a topic with which I am overly familiar but I can share a few snippets. A good part of the RN mining role came to an end in the late 1950s, notably a plan to dispatch one of the fast minelayers (HMS Apollo) to the Kattegat, on the outbreak of war, with the intention of bottling up the Soviet Baltic fleet. It seems someone realised that Norway, Denmark and and Germany could perform this role and British funds tied up in it could be utilised elsewhere. Whether there were plans for similar missions at other chokepoints I don't know. This was the end of the fast minelayers, at least in their design role, Ariadne, Apollo and Manxman.

As uk75 points out, this wasn't then end though. HMS Abdiel was built as an "exercise minelayer" in the mid 1960s and the RN maintained a large stockpile of mines in Depots at Milford Haven and Trecwn all the way through to the late 1980s, possibly the early 1990s at Trecwyn. There are also several sources saying that various mines were modernised in the late 1980s, for instance in 1986/87 there are multiple reports of British Aerospace delivering against a £10m contract to modernise the stockpile and apparently the sensor and processing unit in Sea Urchin was based on the target information module installed in updated M Mk 5 and A Mk.12 mines.

It seems the capability survived but rested on a very old stockpile modernised with new sensors and fuses and ships from the training, and possibly other, fleets along with Nimrods to deliver them until sometime in the 1990s.
 
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Grey Havoc

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There has been speculation that the U.S. slipped a few CAPTORs to the Royal Navy under the counter during the trainwreck that was the Carter Administration. In the latter part of the 1980s the two navies were also busily jointly developing a new mid-depth mine. They may have also been working on a next generation CAPTOR mine (nuclear capable of course) possibly a development of the Stingray torpedo though details are scant at best.
 
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