Word War I Minesweeper
When World War I broke out, the British Admiralty faced the challenge of insufficient ships suitable for anti-submarine operations. As part of the Emergency War Programme, they swiftly constructed smaller anti-submarine vessels, including the Arabis-class sloops, which were the third class of mine-sweeping sloops built for the Royal Navy under the larger “Flower class.”
HMS Nasturtium was one of 36 Arabis-class sloops intended for mine-sweeping duties in European waters. She was laid down by A. McMillan & Sons, Ltd., Dumbarton, Scotland, on 1 July 1915 and launched on 21 December of the same year. With an overall length of 81.6 meters, she had a crew complement of 79 men.
HMS Nasturtium’s service period was brief, during which she was based in Malta. In March 1916, when the Minneapolis was torpedoed by U35, Nasturtium was among the ships that came to her aid. A few days later, Nasturtium was assigned to escort HMS Implacable. In April 1916, Nasturtium departed Malta on patrol but was quickly recalled to search for German submarines and mines in the vicinity.
On the 27th of April, around 7:45 p.m., approximately 5 to 6 miles from St. Elmo light, Nasturtium struck a mine that exploded 7 feet below the waterline on her starboard side, near the foremost funnel. HMS Sheldrake attempted to tow Nasturtium, but the operation was challenging due to her heavy list, darkness, and a heavy swell. HMS Wallflower and HMY Aegusa also arrived to provide assistance but tragically, HMY Aegusa exploded and sank during the operation.
At 2 a.m. on Friday, 28 April, the remaining crew, including the captain, abandoned the forecastle as Nasturtium’s list had noticeably increased. She slowly rolled over onto her port side, with both masts submerged. She remained in that position for another 10 minutes before rearing her bow in the air and sinking slowly around 2:45 a.m.
- Delicate and protected marine flora