HMS Medusa - (ML1387)

ML1387, HMS Medusa, is a Harbour Defence Motor Launch built in Poole in 1943, one of 480 vessels designed to provide an offshore anti-submarine screen for harbours. Entirely built of wood, and powered by diesel engines, they were not fast but had huge endurance. The orginal concept was for them to be transported to where they were needed as deck cargo but soon they were making the passages themselves from the UK to the Mediterranean, West Indies, South Africa and the Far East.

The Medusa Trust, a registered charity, exists to preserve HMS Medusa, ML1387, for future generations. Our mission is to keep Medusa operational and at sea for as long as possible as a tribute to the veterans, education of the public and inspiration of the young.

As well as the vessel they maintain an extensive archive of documents, photographs and records of all the 480 HDMLs and their crews. You can find it on Medusa's website under the Archive tab. They are always keen to receive new material and records of experiences on these vessels.

Medusa's importance to the nation's maritime heritage is recognised by her inclusion in the National Historic Fleet.

Medusa has undergone a major refit mainly funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund. The work has been done in conjunction with The Maritime Workshop of Gosport and has provided an opportunity to young shipwrights to learn and practise traditional shipbuilding skills. Medusa was re-launched on 1 March 2010 and re-dedicated at a ceremony attended by HRH the Princess Royal on 21 October 2010. At this ceremony Medusa was presented with the first of the new Historic Ships Red Ensigns.

Medusa is entirely funded by donations and operated by volunteers. If you would like to help with crewing, maintenance or just be part of the Medusa team, please go to the Support Group page on this web site.

If you wish to make a donation, you can do so via MyDonate using the link at the top of this page or send a cheque to "the Medusa Trust" to the address at the bottom of this page.

We would like to thank all those companies who helped us during the refit and continue to support Medusa, please follow this link to see the full list.

Medusa operates out of Haslar Marina, Gosport. She is certificated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for commercial use, and, as well as a programme of visits to UK and French ports, takes Royal Navy CCF cadets to sea for seamanship and navigation training.


R A Newman, Hamworthy, Dorset 29/12/43

Wartime Activities
27/7/43 Laid down

20/10/43 Launched

29/12/43 Commissioned

Based on HMS Hornet 6/12/43 - 6/3/44

HDML (Foreign Service) Pool based at Poole
Caught in a storm off Pembrokeshire whilst escorting a convoy on her way to working up in the Clyde. Piloted into Milford Haven by the coxswain who was a local fisherman.

149th HDML Flotilla
Based on HMS Forte 6/4/44 - 1/9/44

Operation Fabius I - Practice assault by Task Force O at Slapton Sands, Devon. Operational orders indicated expected attacks by German aircraft, surface craft and submarines. Part of escort force protecting Force O during the exercise. Force consists of 9 USN Destroyers, 2 USN Destroyer Escorts, 6 RN Destroyers, 10 USN PCs, 9 Frigates, 3 Trawlers plus the following Coastal Forces vessels

ML 118, ML 153, ML 163, ML 187, ML 189, ML 190
ML 191, ML 194, ML 214, ML 230, ML 304, ML 907
HDML 1387, HDML 1409
Grey Fox, Grey Shark, Grey Seal, Grey Owl

Medusa at D-Day

6/44 Operation Neptune (Naval element of D-Day)
Invasion of Normandy

Part of 149th ML Flotilla

ML1295, ML1309, ML1383, ML1387, ML1389, ML1391, ML1392, ML1393, ML1407, ML1409, ML1421. ML1422

5-6/6/44 Channel Marker for Omaha Beach on D-Day.
(Beacon position 50 05N 000 46 44W)
From the Operational Orders for D-Day
HDML 1383 and HDML 1387 are identified as the Channel Identification Group. They are to proceed from Portland independently in time to reach Approach Channels 3 and 4 respectively by H Hour - 13. The approaches are marked by FH 830 acoustic beacons previously laid by ML 147, ML 151 and ML 198 Operation Enthrone

HDML 1383 and HDML 1387 are to transmit 3 or 4 as appropriate at 30 second intervals on a shielded blue signal lamp through the night. By day they are to fly a large international code numeral flag. HDML 1383 and HDML 1387 are to remain on station until 2300 on D-Day.

Proceeds to the assault anchorage after the first landings in Normandy and distributes instructions to other units.

Returned to Portsmouth for convoy escort duties.

On completion of escorting a convoy to the blockship harbour at Courseulles (Juno Beach) in bad weather, attempted to put to sea to avoid the drifting barges and other craft but holed the Asdic dome on a rock in the western entrance. Reached Portsmouth for drydocking with both power and hand pumps being used to keep her afloat. Repaired and returned to convoy escort duties.

Based on HMS Hornet 2/9/44 - 30/11/44

Based on HMS Wildfire 1/12/44 - 31/8/45

Acted as escort for 185th Auxilliary Minesweeping Flotilla based on the Medway.

Escorted two water barges from Southend Pier to Ostend and then patrolled to Scheveningen, Holland and on to Ijmuiden which was still occupied by German forces waiting to surrender. HDML 1387 accepts the surrender of German forces in Ijmuiden. An armed sentry, in best uniform is placed to patrol the jetty but he trips over a warp and drops the boat's only rifle into the harbour.

HDML 1387 takes a party of senior officers up the North Sea Canal to Amsterdam as part of the surrender process. Negotiated a sunken blockship by sending the boat away, with AB Harry Andrew embarked, to take soundings around the wreck to find a channel and was the first allied vessel to enter the city.

Returned to Ijmuiden and then took passage to Rosyth.

Based on HMS Marshall Soult 1/9/45 - 29/1/46

Medusa post war

10/45 Refitted and redesignated FDB 76 at William Osborne's yard at Littlehampton, Sussex Redesignated as a Fast Despatch Boat (FDB 76)

2/46 Delivered to Cardiff University Naval Division as the last act of the wartime crew

2/47 Transferred to Severn Division RNVR Unit

8/49 Transferred to London Division RNVR Unit as HMS Thames
Redesignated as a Seaward Defence Motor Launch (SDML 3516)

11/50 Prepared for transfer to Iran but the transfer was delayed.

4/52 Temporarily allocated to the Hydrographic Department and attached to the Survey Training Unit at Chatham.
4/53 The transfer to Iran is cancelled. Allocation to the Hydrographic Department is made permanent
1956-57 Independent surveys of the west coast of the United Kingdom

1958-60 Independent surveys of the east coast

3/59 Collided, in fog off Ramsgate, with the Dutch coaster Jan Brons (480 tons) and was out of action for three months
3/60 Transferred to Plymouth to work between Torbay and the Solway Firth.

30/11/65 Paid off for disposal at Devonport. A fire breaks out in the messdeck and causes significant damage.
ML 1387 is moored in Weston Mill Lake, Devonport.

1968 Privately owned as Medusa and moved to Portland. In the first four years as a motor yacht, made 36 crossings of the English Channel. 12/02/70 Iranian destroyer Artemiz (ex HMS Sluys) drags her anchors during a gale in Portland Harbour and collides with Medusa. One of the destroyers anchors fouls Medusa's anchor chain and in freeing it Medusa is cast loose. Medusa is within 100 feet of the rocky shore when the crew board her, start the engines and steer her out of trouble.
1972 Restoration starts. Extensive repairs to the hull are made and the superstructure is rebuilt. Medusa eventually makes voyages to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Brussels. 30-31/7/77 Chartered for a military exercise. Transported SAS Reserve and Territorial Army troops to Worbarrow Bay for a night assault.
9/80 Chartered by the BBC for the series'Private Schultz'

10/85 Handed over to Gosport Borough Council to become part of the proposed Coastal Forces Museum. The Gannet Society becomes responsible for maintenance and further restoration. Medusa is berthed on the trials pier belonging to Vosper Thornycroft.
7/91 Chartered by the BBC for an episode of 'Lovejoy' to enact a burial at sea.
1991 Vosper Thornycroft relinquish their lease on the pier and Medusa eventually finds a new home in Gunwharf Creek, Portsmouth.

20/10/93 On the 50th annivesary of her launch Medusa visited her builder's yard in Poole which was by then owned by Dean & Dyball the construction company. Maurice Liddiard, her wartime Commanding Officer, took passage from Portsmouth to Poole. On arrival at Poole Bar, the boat was boarded by a civic party including the Mayor of Poole (Admiral of the port) and the mayoress. The mayor took the helm for a time. This was the first, but not the last time, that the boat flew the flag of the Admiral of the Port of Poole. The Mayor cut the 50th Anniversary cake and a Medusa crest was swapped for a Poole Dolphin.

1994 (With Fantasia ex HDML 1410) Attended the D-Day 50th Anniversary Commemorations.
Acted as escort for HMY Britannia for passage from Netley to Portsmouth.
6/6/94 Present at both Omaha and Juno Beaches where the crew held short remembrance ceremonies
1995 Gunwharf has been sold and Medusa moves to Number 1 Basin in Portsmouth Naval Base where she moors alongside Minerva (M33), a World War One Monitor, also being restored.
8/97 Became training tender to the Southampton Unit of the Maritime Volunteer Service.
2003 Core list vessel in National Historic Ships Register. Operated by the Medusa Trust and based in Southampton
June 2004 Lead vessel for D-Day 60th aniversary fleet sailing from Portsmouth
2005 Participated in the Fleet review to mark the 200th aniversay of Trafalgar.
2005-10 Major refit funded by the Heritage Lottery in conjunction with the Maritime Workshop and 15 apprentice shipwrights.

2010 Back in service. New ensign presented by HRH The Princess Royal.
2011 Escort for First Sea Lord for review of First Patrol Boat Squadron
2012 Participated in the Queens Jubilee parade on the Thames.
2014 D Day 70th commemorations. Visit from veterans and HRH princess Royal before returning to D Day beached and Caen.
2016 Dunkirk to take part in the filming of “Dunkirk”. Harry Styles on board.
2017 Joined fleet exercise with the Royal Navy first patrol boat squadron and visited Grandcamp Maisy (Omaha) for D day commemoration

Museum info:
Address: Haslar Marina, Gosport, Hampshire, UK
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