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  • Brian Sandom

HMS Wave

In September 1952 I was serving as a Stoker Mechanic in His Majesty's Ship 'Wave', an Algerine Class Minesweeper of the 5th Minesweeping Flotilla and Fishery Protection Squadron.

On the 29 September 1952 following exercises in the Irish Sea, we anchored in St Ives Bay for the night as the weather forecast was stormy. The anchorage was some 200 metres seaward of Smeatons Pier in St Ives Bay.

The weather then was calm, and the Ships Motor Boat made several trips in shore. I was in my hammock next to a scuttle in the Stokers Mess which is aft on Algerines, when awakened at 0500 to be told we were aground.

Looking out the scuttle I could see into buildings very close. The starboard anchor chain had broken and we were blown ashore before the port one could be dropped. The wind and seas were colossal but as the tide had started to drop we were stranded on the sands but in close proximity to the rocks. A line was taken by hand while the tide was low, across to Smeatons Pier, but when the wind, and tide came up again this line snapped and we were blown on to the rocks. 'Wave' was badly holed in the engine room and fuel tanks enough to drive a car through.

All but 26 of the crew were then taken off by breeches buoy from the boat deck. I was one of the 26 left on board whilst we tried to free ourselves with main engines but this proved fruitless, the engine room flooded and we had to abandon it. The Captain, Commander Robert Everett, then ordered the rest of us ashore, and we were taken off from the starboard waist by breeches buoy. Because of the see sawing of the ship in the storm the breeches buoy line was manned by sightseers on shore so that it could be kept reasonably taut. Unfortunately this was not always possible so a dip in oily water became pretty certain. The tide went down once again and the full extent of the damage could be seen. Meanwhile we were accommodated at Halfar.

Two Boom Defence Vessels and a Destroyer had arrived in the area with Captain Fell, a salvage expert from Devonport. An inflatable balloon was inserted in to the large hole, and engine room filled with empty oil drums to give buoyancy, and on the next high tide she was hauled off by HMS Barbastel, and put alongside Smeaton Pier with a 4 degree list to starboard.

After some sturdier repairs we were towed back to Devonport, although on passage the port anchor chain also snapped. I was one of the towing crew with the job of keeping the boiler room pumped out with an air driven pump. After a lengthy time in the dockyard “Wave” sailed again in her original role. It is believed that she is the only ship to survive the Cornish rocks. I went on to serve in more ships until leaving as a CMEM in 1972.

The Wave incident can be viewed on You Tube -

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