Few villages can claim the distinction of having a Royal Navy ship named after them and for that ship still to be in service. But the village of Cattistock has that honour. Or, more correctly perhaps, the Cattistock Hunt has the honour because HMS CATTISTOCK (M31) is a Hunt Class Minehunter all of which are named after hunts. She is the third Royal Navy ship to be fortunate enough to bear the name of our village.
Launched in 1981, HMS CATTISTOCK is a mine counter-measures vessel whose role is to detect and destroy mines and other sea bed anomalies. Displacing just 750 tons and powered by 2 diesel engines she has a maximum speed of about 17 knots and a ship’s company of 45 comprising 6 officers and 39 ratings. She is of GRP construction with a minimal magnetic signature to safeguard her from magnetic mines. Mines are detected using very high definition sonar and destroyed by placing an explosive charge beside them.
At the time of writing HMS CATTISTOCK is in home waters as part of a NATO Mine Countermeasures Group with ships from Germany, Denmark and Norway. The current Commanding Officer is Lieutenant Commander Chris Easterbrook. Due to the RN’s Mine countermeasures roulement programme the current ship’s company is liable to deploy at relatively short notice to other mine hunters stationed in trouble spots around the world. The policy is to move the men, not the ships, which makes logistical and financial sense.
The first HMS CATTISTOCK was a First World War minesweeper. In those days minesweeping was exactly that. Minesweepers towed steel trawl wires supported by paravanes with explosive cutting devices to cut the wires of moored mines which were then sunk or blown up by gunfire. There were no hi-tech sonars in those days. Mindful of the old naval adage “Every ship is a minesweeper – once” these ships were at least designed for the job.
The Second HMS CATTISTOCK (L35) was a World War 2 destroyer that served with distinction throughout the war. She was present off the Normandy beaches on D-Day and subsequently badly damaged by shellfire with many casualties. After repair she served until the end of the war. This picture shows HMS CATTISTOCK entering Hamburg in July 1945.
Fortunately we see quite a lot of our adopted ship. If in home waters members of the ship’s company attend both Remembrance Sunday and the annual Carol Service in Cattistock and recently they’ve turned up at the Knob Throwing too. It’s not just a one way street because there are often opportunities for villagers to visit the ship at sea and in harbour.