On the bridge of HMS Curzon (Sussex Division) during a 1972 RNR exercise in the English Channel, with HMS Thames (London Division) and HMS Solent (Wessex Division)
Photo from Naval News Summary publication of Oct 1972, copyright free
The names of the vessels quoted above are those given to the vessels when in RNR service and the same name could be given to several vessels.
The original RN names for these vessels are as follows
• HMS Curzon was the RNR name given to HMS Fittleton between 1960 and 1976
• HMS Thames was the RNR name given to HMS Woolaston between 1969 and 1975
• HMS Solent was the RNR name given to HMS Crofton
HMS Curzon reverted back to HMS Fittleton in 1976 the year she was lost in a collision with HMS Mermaid
HMS Fittleton was a Ton class minesweeper of the Royal Navy. She was assigned to the Royal Naval Reserve and operated from HMS Sussex, but manned by members of both the Sussex division and the London division (HMS President). She was sunk in a collision with HMS Mermaid on 20 September 1976 whilst on manoeuvres in the North Sea. Twelve volunteer Royal Naval Reserve personnel lost their lives making this the worst peacetime accident involving the Royal Naval Reserve.
The ship was a wooden hulled minesweeper that had been converted for Royal Naval Reserve training and supply work. About 80 miles north of Texel in the North Sea HMS Mermaid and HMS Fittleton were involved in an exercise involving the two ships sailing close to each other. The Fittleton was caught in a bow wave and was drawn close to HMS Mermaid by hydrodynamic forces. A collision ensued and the Fittleton turned over within a minute.
Some survivors were picked from the sea and German and Dutch vessels joined Royal Navy ships in searching for survivors with divers going into the upturned hull. The following day a marine crane lifted the wreck of the Fittleton out of the water and the ship was taken to Den Helder in the Netherlands where the ship was made watertight and she was then towed back to Chatham Dockyard. Five bodies were found on the ship but seven were missing presumed drowned.
The Fittleton was scrapped the following year and HMS Mermaid was sold out of service. A full enquiry into the disaster took place. A memorial window was commissioned for the church at Fittleton in Wiltshire