Former HMS Bronington, Last of the Royal Navy’s Ton-Class, Sinks Next to Dock in England


A historic minesweeper formerly belonging to the Royal Navy has sunk while moored at Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead, England where it has been laid up for years.

The Bronington, one of the last vessels in the Royal Navy’s Ton-class, was discovered to have sank sometime between Thursday and Friday.

A witness told gCaptain on Friday that he last saw the vessel afloat Tuesday, but by Friday the ship had partially sank next to the dock in an upright position and was starting to roll onto its side.


The HMS Bronington was launched for the Royal Navy by Cook, Welton, and Gemmel shipbuilders in Yorkshire, England in 1953 and remained in active service until 1988. In 1989 the vessel was purchased by the Bronington Trust, a charity dedicated to her preservation and display to the public. The minesweeper was brought to Salford Quays and later opened to the public in 1992, but ownership eventually transferred to Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and the ship has been been laid up at Vittoria Docks since 2011.

Between 1953 and 1960, about 119 of the wooden-hulled Ton class minesweepers were delivered to the Royal Navy and later used by other navies.

More photos of the Bronington can be found on Phil Owen’s website.


Reported by Gcaptain


  1. It is always sad to see RN ships end up like this, as ex RN myself from the the 50s, I have seen ships I commissioned from new, used as target practice and sunk. When you have served aboard fighting ships, you get a sense that you owe them something, and to let them just rot away seems senseless to me.

    I would more than be willing to help restore ships like this for the public to be able to go aboard and see what they where like.

    1. I have just had a phone call from the princes trust. On phone for over an hour and gave them a plan. Which they are keen to hear more. We need to form a committe as this is day one and already the ball is rolling

  2. Wilton, first GRP warship, still floats around high-water at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where she is HQ ship of the Essex Yacht Club. She has been extensively modified both internally and externally to provide large accommodation spaces for the members.

  3. Surprised nobody has mentioned that Prince Charles was the Commanding Officer of Bronington in 1976. Also, if Wilton is still afloat (see above) then that must now be the last Ton….. although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of one being used as a house-boat somewhere.
    Just one more point – the writer of the article at the top really should learn the difference between ‘sank’ and ‘sunk’.

  4. Do you think the government will spend any money on getting her restored?.
    Sorry, stupid question I know. Really sad to see her like this. I dont suppose the Queens lad would have any influence at all?.

  5. It was indeed the first command of Prince Charles. I believe that it was the first occasion he ever really felt ‘free’ when he took her to sea. I recall him being held in high regard by the Ships Company and supplementing the victuals with the occasional salmon brought back from a weekends away at Balmoral! I was based in HMS Lochinvar at Port Edgar providing maintenance services to the ship and I remember most of the Senior Rates serving with HRH at that time. I was seconded to her for two weeks whilst her erstwhile Electrical Officer, (P.O. EL. Gordon Sales), was on leave. The ‘Tons’ were small but hardy and generally happy ships. I never regretted a moment of the eight years or so that I was associated with the ‘Tons’ so it is with great sadness that I view that photograph of Bronington as she is now. I also worked on the Wilton when she was part of the Task Force sent to clear the Suez Canal in 1974. She was a ‘Ton’ in almost every respect of configuration except for the GRP hull structure, of course. Great workhorses of the RN.
    I accompanied Brecon and Ledbury to the South Atlantic in 1982 as part of the FSU 01, (NP2100), then normally based at Rosyth. Whilst there were great improvements with these first ‘Hunt’ class MWV’s over the ‘Tons’ there was, to me, something lacking in the ‘soul’ of them! Nostalgia on my part perhaps!
    I will be pleased to hear of any wooden ‘Tons’ still afloat in service anywhere and I hope that Wilton is doing us proud in her new role.
    Yours aye,
    Jim Croysdale

  6. Not the first thing to be “lost” from Liverpool & Mersey docks but perhaps the saddest. I served on board for my 2 weeks RNR during Granada Patrol, not as you ‘d think in the Caribean but off Ireland stopping & searching for illegal arms. She was a very tidy and shiny ship having been HRH former command & I recall a really sound crew. My “grot” for the fortnight was a camp bed in the Mine Hunting office. The crew made me welcome & the C.O was a most pleasant man, an example to many I have known who were not so. If the Bronington can be salvaged, which should be an easy lift, a survey would reveal how far gone she is. If basically sound in the Hull preservation for what is a small ship should be possible. It only needs people of the right calibre tomake it so. Also a new home with the facilities to get her into cover i.e. slip & scaffold Poly shed would suffice.

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