Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Niger
Niger Pre-War
Niger 1939
Niger 1940
Niger 1941
Niger 1942
Niger - Crew


HMS Niger May 1936 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Niger May 1936
Source: Wright & Logan

Summary of History

NIGER (J73) (sixth ship of the name) was one of the two triple-expansion engined 'Halcyons', being similar to SALAMANDER, in dimensions and machinery. She commissioned at Devonport on 4 June 1936. She took part in exercises in the Firth of Clyde in June 1937 then she sailed to the western Mediterranean for patrol duties in Spanish waters in July/August. She then docked and refitted at Devonport for the rest of the year. In Jan1938 NIGER reduced to 2/5 complement and was taken in hand for refit and re-arming (HA replaced the LA 4" guns). She spent June/July visiting south coast ports, and in August she sailed to Copenhagen. With the 1st Flotilla she spent Sept/October off the eastern Scottish coast. NIGER refitted at Devonport in April 1939 and she spent June visiting south coast ports after taking part in the search for the submarine THETIS (sunk in Liverpool Bay) early in the month. She was at her war station on the East Coast when the war started on 3 September 1939. On 7 Oct 1939 while minesweeping off the Swarte Bank, North Sea, the ship was slightly damaged when she was attacked by enemy flying boats. She was attacked again by enemy aircraft on 30 Jan 1940 off Invergordon; 20 bombs were dropped causing negligible damage to the ship but wounding three men.

At the end of May 1940 NIGER took part in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk. Just prior to this (20 May) she had been dive bombed and set on fire off Gravelines. After her exertions off the French coast evacuating some 1,500 men, NIGER sailed to Grimsby in mid June for repairs which lasted until 8 July. On 30 July she collided with the M/S trawler LAUREL off the Humber, being holed on the port quarter, and her degaussing gear being damaged; she returned to Grimsby for repairs. 

In March 1941 NIGER was minesweeping in the Channel with the 1st Flotilla. In April she was reallocated to convoy escort duties in the Western Approaches (and later on with the Home Fleet), a tribute to the versatility of the Class. With SPEEDWELL she was sent up to Iceland for escort duties.  On 12 July NIGER was 'required for special service with SALAMANDER & HALCYON'. She proceeded to Stornoway and Aberdeen (15 - 23 July 1941) to collect her minesweeping gear, and on to Scapa Flow. In late July she departed Scapa for Iceland where she spent part of August providing antisubmarine protection for the port of Seidisfjord.

In late September 1941 she and BRAMBLE were detailed as escorts for the Arctic Convoy PQ2, but her trials were not satisfactory. It was 21 December before she was pronounced fit to sail, but three days later she was '....out of action for five months .... requested for Royal Dockyard for thorough investigation and repair.' In fact she was ready for sea by early February 1942.

On 14 Feb 1942 NIGER met the 13 merchant ships who constituted Convoy PQ11; they sailed a day late from Kirkwall. The return Convoy QP11 (13 ships) sailed on 28 April with a local escort which included NIGER; the cruiser EDINBURGH lent close support. Following the sinking of Edinburgh the 'Halcyons' took her survivors into Polyarnoe.

NIGER sailed for the UK with Convoy QP13 (35 ships), leaving Murmansk on 27 June as S.O. escort, which by an error of navigation caused by the bad weather, strayed into an allied minefield off Iceland and at 2240 on 5 July 1942 NIGER blew up and sank in position 66.55N, 22.20W. Fog had reduced visibility to 500 yards but HUSSAR eventually obtained a shore fix and led the remaining ships of the convoy (four had been sunk by mines) out of the minefield and reached Reykjavik on 7 July. The Commanding Officer, 8 officers and 140 ratings perished when NIGER sank; the large casualty list is probably explained by the fact that the ship was carrying naval passengers home from North Russia. 

Source: Article from the World Ship Society’s publication ‘Warship’ THE WAR OF THE HALCYONS 1939-1945  R A Ruegg (supplemented with additional information)

See also www.naval-history.net

HMS Niger - Halcyon Class Minesweeper N73

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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012