Naval visitor to the port in 1960

By Derek Longly

HMS Watchful entered service for the Royal Navy when she was launched as a 'ley' class inshore minesweeper under the name HMS Broomley on 14th April 1953. 

She was one of a series of eleven ships, was 100 foot long by 21 foot beam and her Paxman diesels could give her a speed of 13 knots.  Her normal complement was two officers and 13 ratings.

The vessel was re-named HMS Watchful in 1959 and at some point, possibly within a short time of her re-naming, became a fishery protection vessel.  She reached the end of her days when she was decommissioned and sold out of service in 1968 being broken up in Rotterdam.

The ship's name plate, which is clearly visible in the photos, is interesting as it indicates that she was in some way connected with the China Station between 1856 and 1860 this possibly referring to service undertaken by a predecessor of the same name.

On the 21st May 1960 HMS Watchful called at Newhaven on a courtesy visit and the pictures record the event.  On the one hand the crew of the ship pose proudly for the camera and then it was the turn for the visitors to do so. 

It would be interesting to learn whether any of today's residents of the town recognise any of the people who were on board the ship that day.

Photo:The crew of HMS Watchful

The crew of HMS Watchful

Derek Longly collection

Photo:A happy group of visitors on board

A happy group of visitors on board

Derek Longly collection

This page was added by Derek Longly on 07/07/2012.
Comments about this page

The plate with the name on it is the battle honours board - hence the reference back to a previous ship of the same name. It would only have been in place whilst alongside in harbour. There is a decent picture of the ship under way on Flikr

By John Sweatman
On 15/10/2012

It was with great pleasure that I found your website today especially the page that reports on the visit of HMS Watchful.

I served on board and am in the picture on display. The ships company always enjoyed visiting Newhaven after completing a Fishery Protection Patrol in the channel usually after a visit to one of the Channel Islands letting the local fishermen we were around and the French fishermen to behave.

Two weeks ago I was contacted out of the blue by the son of another crew member who wondered if I knew his father. I will now tell him of your website.

Many thanks for bringing back so many happy memories.

By Bob Dean
On 07/02/2018

A silly question. But was this ship the same ship deployed as fisheries protection prior to 1960. I'm interested because my late dad served on her in the late 1950's. 

By Michael Hegarty
On 26/07/2022

Not a silly question at all, Michael!

Yes, you're correct. HMS Watchful was launched as HMS Broomley in 1953, but renamed in 1959. She was allocated to the Fishery Protection Squadron. She was eventually scrapped in 1968.

By Andy Gilbert
On 27/07/2022

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