HMS Gleaner (J83)

HMS Gleaner was one of 21 Halcyon-class minesweepers built for the Royal Navy in the 1930s.

Hussar during World War II
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Gleaner
Ordered: 13 March 1936
General characteristics
Class and type: Halcyon-class minesweeper
  • 830 long tons (843 t) standard
  • 1,350 long tons (1,372 t) full
Length: 245 ft 3 in (74.75 m) o/a
Beam: 33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
Draught: 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Range: 6,000 nmi (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 157

Design and description

The Halcyon class designed as a replacement for the preceding Hunt class and varied in size and propulsion. Gleaner displaced 830 long tons (840 t) at standard load and 1,350 long tons (1,370 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 245 feet 3 inches (74.8 m), a beam of 33 feet 6 inches (10.2 m) and a draught of 8 feet 9 inches (2.7 m).[1]

She was powered by two Parsons geared steam turbines, each driving one shaft, using steam provided by two Admiralty three-drum boilers. The engines produced a total of 1,750 shaft horsepower (1,300 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph). Gleaner carried a maximum of 252 long tons (256 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[2] The ship's complement consisted of 80 officers and ratings.[3]

Gleaner was armed with two QF 4-inch (10.2 cm) anti-aircraft guns. She was also equipped with eight .303-inch (7.7 mm) machine guns. Later in her career, the rear 4-inch gun mount was removed as were most of the .303 machine guns, one quadruple mount for Vickers .50 machine guns was added as were up to four single or twin mounts for 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns. For escort work, her minesweeping gear could be exchanged for around 40 depth charges.[4]

Construction and career

Gleaner was completed by William Gray & Company, Hartlepool, as a survey vessel, but she was converted into a minesweeper when the war began.

On 12 February 1940, Gleaner sank German U-boat U-33 (55°25′N 05°07′W) using depth charges and deck gun. The captain was Lt.Cdr. H. P. Price, RN. The British seized some materials from the U-boat, including Enigma machine rotors VI and VII, whose wirings were unknown at the time. The seizure was one of the "pinches" that aided the cryptanalysis of the Enigma.[5]

The British merchant ship Astra II was torpedoed and sunk. The ship rescued 20 survivors on 29 August 1940 (56°09′N 12°14′W). Gleaner rescued 68 survivors from the torpedoed Empire Tourist on 4 March 1944 (73°25′N 22°11′E). She was sold for scrap in 1950.


  1. Lenton 1998, pp. 251–252
  2. Lenton 1998, p. 252
  3. Chesneau 1980, p. 63
  4. Chesneau 1980, p. 63; Lenton 1998, p. 252
  5. Kahn 1991, pp. 107111


  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Kahn, David (1991). Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes, 19391943. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-42739-8.
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7.
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