(J68) was laid down on 8 June 1936 at Devonport Dockyard under the 1935 Programme.
She was launched 10 December 1936 and completed on 17 December 1937. From April to July
1938 she operated in the
Channel and visited south coast ports, she then accompanied the Flotilla on its visit to Fredrikstadt (Oslo
Fjord). On 9 September the ships of the Flotilla were brought up to full
complement, and for two months they were at their war Station (Scapa Flow)
and off the east Scottish coast. (This was the period of the 'Czech Crisis'
when the Prime Minister visited Germany and played for time). By the year's
end SHARPSHOOTER was at Sheerness.
In June 1939 with other ships of the flotilla she took part in the
search for the submarine THETIS, sunk in
Liverpool Bay. She then operated with the flotilla in the Channel, and took
part in the Royal Inspection (Reserve Fleet Review) at Portland on 9th August. At
the outbreak of war on 3 Sept 1939 SHARPSHOOTER
was at her War Station at Scapa. For
the rest of 1939 and into Jan 1940 SHARPSHOOTER operated
as a minesweeper at Scapa, with visits to Port ‘A’ and the Clyde. On 5th
December 1939 she was in collision with a tanker sustaining minor damage. Her
Commanding Officer was told on 23 December 1939 that 'if necessary' his ship
would join the cruiser DORSETSHIRE in the hunt
for the German Pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER
who was ravaging merchant shipping. In Feb./March she refitted at
SHARPSHOOTER proceeded from
Scapa to Dover in May 1940 to take part in Operation 'Dynamo'. She was
involved in a collision on 30/31st May
the cross Channel steamer ST. HELIER which struck SHARPSHOOTER's bows with her
stern, and was badly damaged (cut down foc'sle deck to keel).
off Dunkirk until 1st June and was then towed back
the tug FOREMOST 22
the fifty miles to Dover which took 13
After repairs she was
minesweeping in Home Waters.
It was then decided that the 1st
Flotilla should be at one week's notice for (sweeping) operations, but
should otherwise be available to the CinC Western Approaches for escort
duty. Between 6 August and 10 November she was 'arcticised' - a guarantee of at least
part of her future employment.
of refit, SHARPSHOOTER sailed to Archangel with PQ5 where she carried out
local duties in North Russian waters in December 1941 and January 1942;
these included A/S patrols and escorting incoming convoys and of
course she looked for mines. SHARPSHOOTER
sailed with the homeward-bound QP9 (19 ships) which left Murmansk on
21 March 1942. On 24 March SHARPSHOOTER rammed and sank U655, the first U
Boat to be sunk during a Russian Convoy. SHARPSHOOTER was damaged and proceeded ahead of the
convoy for repairs.
In September 1942 she sailed with PQ18. During
the passage of this convoy the enemy lost three U-boats and about 40
aircraft but managed to sink 13 merchant ships; the survivors of the convoy
reached Archangel on 17 September. SHARPSHOOTER remained there until
November when she returned with QP15 and was damaged in a collision with a
merchant ship at Iceland.
On 30 May 1943 SHARPSHOOTER escorted KMS15 (74 ships) which was one of the preliminary convoys for the planned
amphibious landing on Sicily (Operation 'Husky'). Detaching three ships at
Gibraltar, this convoy entered the Mediterranean with Convoy UGS8A (58
ships). The combined convoy of 129 ships was the largest of the war up to
that time, covering 68 square miles of sea, and screened by 19 escorts.
SHARPSHOOTER took part in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.
SHARPSHOOTER then led a busy life
minesweeping in and off Mediterranean ports from Malta, Italy and the
eastern Med, and they also worked as convoy escorts.
joined the 49th
From 18 February 1944 to the third week in September she escorted Mediterranean
convoys. On 5 April while
temporarily with MKS44, she was damaged by the explosion of a 'Gnat' (German
She refitted at Haifa 10 May to 16 June and
then escorted several more convoys.
SHARPSHOOTER returned for a refit at Chatham in October 1944. On 16th November she sailed
up to Lowestoft for a further month's refit, after which she became a
seagoing training ship for engineering personnel. In mid May 1945
SHARPSHOOTER was converted into a survey ship.
In April 1946 she
sailed to relieve CHALLENGER
who was engaged on Hydrographic survey duty on the China coast.
As she sailed east she performed a small survey in the
area and continued on to Trincomalee via Bombay. On 10 July she departed
Trincomalee and carried out a short survey in the Mergui Archipelago (S.
coast). On 25 July she sailed for Penang to locate wrecks in the southern
approaches to the port. By 3 August she was at Singapore from whence she
departed on the 24th for a month's survey on the Malayan east coast. She
then had a short stay at Singapore before sailing for a variety of survey
duties to occupy her commission.
When SHARPSHOOTER completed
her Far East survey duties she returned to the UK in 1948 for Home Waters
surveying. On 1 July 1953, she was renamed SHACKLETON
- a more appropriate name for a survey ship. It was not until late
1962 that SHACKLETON paid off into Reserve at
Devonport (9 November 1962). She languished in Reserve until 3 November 1965
when she was sold to the West of Scotland Ship Breaking Company, and on 20
November 1965 she arrived at Troon for break-up.