Shipsearcher Identification Section (SIS) staff search extensively for satellite views of some of the last survivors of famous classes of warships. During the Second World War, the British Algerine fleet or ocean-going minesweeper design formed an important class of Allied warship. At 225 feet long and about 1,300 tons displacement, they were larger than other designs, such as the Bangor or Bathurst sweepers.
This new class could be constructed by commercial shipyards – an important feature for speeding up wartime production of the vital hulls. More than half of the 110 ships were built in Canadian shipyards: Port Arthur Shipbuilding, Toronto Shipbuilding, and Redfern Construction. These ships were all powered by reciprocating engines, while some of the British-built ships were turbine-driven. In addition to regular minesweeping duties, ships were quickly pressed into service as ocean escorts, helping to bulk up protection for the vital transatlantic convoys. The dozen Royal Canadian Navy units spent most of their wartime duty in this role, providing important service alongside River class frigates and Flower class corvettes.
HMS Minstrel J-445, was one of the last ships launched from the Toronto, Ontario shipyards of Redfern Construction Company in 1945, as the war ended. Minstrel was transferred to the Royal Thai Navy In 1947 as HTMS Phosamton (or “Phosampton” depending on the source). With most of her sister-ships scrapped in the 1960s, her service stretched on and on into the early 2000s. According to 1980s editions of Jane’s Fighting Ships, she was given an engineering upgrade and modified with a large classroom deckhouse over the quarterdeck, serving as a training vessel.
Most online sources still call the Phosamton the last active Algerine, serving out of Samut Prakan naval base. However, the Navypedia entry notes it was stricken (removed from service) in 2017, with other sources suggesting it was retired in 2012. A Thai news source had a more accurate updated location that we were able to look up, and images online confirm the location. This minesweeper has been located nearby at Samet Ngam since at least 2013, and shipsearcher staff very much hope that it will be saved from scrapping. However, it has been languishing in a deteriorated condition. More recent views show a large barge moored alongside. As the ship is reported to be resting on the bottom at her berth, the barge may be alongside to commence dismantling the venerable sweeper in situ. Thailand has gone to lengths to preserve other contemporary warships, after their long second careers with the Royal Thai Navy, so there is still hope for this last Algerine.
We don’t often “confirm” ship views, as many ships are pretty obvious, and if we are wrong, very few visitors to our site have ever corrected us! In this case, we sketched out the outline of the satellite view, tracing major features of the ship. We then compared this with online sources and plans in Ken MacPherson’s excellent source book on the topic Minesweepers of the Royal Canadian Navy, 1938-1945, which were themselves made from plans now held by Library and Archives Canada. It is always exciting to identify even a single survivor of a bygone era, lingering on into the present, as this allows us to explore the history of the whole class of vessels, and pester the Shipsearcher staff historian to contextualize or interpret our finds!
Check out our Royal Thai Navy pages for other views of the Phosamton, and other veteran ships, originally from a variety of navies, that are being preserved.
5 thoughts on “The Loneliest Minesweeper?”
Yes it is the Phosamton at Samet Ngam. We live in Chanthaburi, Series of my photos here: https://thai-boats.tumblr.com/tagged/HTMS-Phosamton
Very nice photos. Is she still gradually being restored? Can I use one of the photos you took to show her current status, with credit to you and pointing back to your site? Cheers!
Hi. Welcome to use any photos or information on my Tumblr pages.
In 2011-12 there was a restoration of Minstrel/Phosamton underway, sandblasting and repainting. Due to a change of government, military coup, the work had ceased about 2013-14 and there has been minimal progress since.
I’ve climbed all over it, and inside, just ignore the ‘no entry’ signage.
Samet Ngam is its ‘spiritual’ resting place as it was from here in the 1767 King Taksin rebuilt his fleet and sailed to drive the invading Burmese out from their base in the Battle of Pho Sam Ton. Samet Ngam has a large shrine dedicated to King Taksin, a museum also. Saket Ngam was an early trading port, there is a preserved ship hull dating to 1300s.
I went back to see HTMS Phosamton twice late last year. Now we’ll settled in the riverbed with water flowing through rust holes in the sides. I didn’t go on board as there are warning signs and a risk of injury falling through the rusted deck.
I’ve added photos from those September and December visits, same link and tags from previous post.
Afraid this looks to be the end of Minstrel/ Phosamton, in such bad shape now could not even be towed to see as a dive wreck.
That is sad news.