BYMS’s were built in the United States and transferred the Royal Navy under the Lend-lease Programme. “British Yard Mine Sweepers” are so called because they were built to the same design as the US Navy’s “Yard Mine Sweepers”.

Crews for the BYMS’s would sail to the United States, often on the Queen Mary, which could sail unescorted because of her greater speed, to collect their vessel. They would then have the formidable task of sailing their small vessel back across the Atlantic Ocean, often in winter. 

BYMS 2188, Flotilla 171 in 43, 170/206 in 44, 170 in 45.

Built by: Greenport Basin and Construction Co., Greenport, Long Island, New York, USA.
Laid down:  22 July 1942.
Launched:  26 September 1942.
Completed and transferred to Royal Navy: 30 March 1943
Reclassified: HMS J-988 later  HMS BYMS-2188.

Assigned to the Nore Command, Flotilla 170 in 1944.

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On the journey back to the United Kingdom, BYMS 2188 called in a Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. German U-boats had laid mines at the mouth of Bedford Basin, blocking the entrance to Halifax Harbour.

The 170th MSF (Mine Sweeping Flotilla) which included BYMS 2188, was attached to the Royal Canadian Navy for a short time and cleared 18 mines from the harbour approaches.

No sooner were these mines cleared, when a second minefield was laid by German U-boats outside of St johns, Newfoundland.

Sixteen mines were swept from the approaches to St Johns. But it was winter and the minesweepers were iced in.

BYMS 2188 was finally able to return to Canada and eventually crossed the Atlantic via the Azores.

BYMS 2188 at Ijmuiden, Holland. From the collection of Engineman Gordon Hunter.

Watch these short videos about the Wildfire III Minesweepers.
D-day minesweepers:
Clearing the Scheldt:
The Relief of Holland:  

BYMS, British Yard Mine Sweeper were all built to the same design. The only variation was one of appearance in the number of exhaust stacks.  Note, the Acoustic “hammer” on the bow in the up position used to sweep for acoustic mines and the drum on the stern for the LL cables used to detonate magnetic mines.

​​BYMS 2188 at Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Taken by Gordon Hunter 

​BYMS 2188
British Yard Mine Sweeper 2188.
Nore Command, World War Two 1939 to 1945.

Gordon Hunter in the engine-room​ of BYMS 2188


30 March 43, Completed.
5 June 43, Boston.
7 June to 15 Oct 43, Halifax.
18 June 43, St John’s
22 Feb 44, St John’s.
22 Feb to 9 May 44, Halifax. Crossed the Atlantic to Horta in the Azores (Island group) and on to Southern England.
19 May 44, Azores.
25 and 26 May 44, Londonderry.
27 May to 24 June, Swansea.
25 June to 18 July 44, Portland.
18 July 44. France.
19 and 20 Aug 44, Portland.
20 to 31 Aug 44, Plymouth.
5 Sep 44, France.
7 Sep 44, Southend.
8 Sep to 31 Oct 44 Humber
2 Nov 44, Sheerness.
25 Dec 44, Humber.
13 June to 17 July 45 Humber.
26 Aug 45. Cuxhaven (Hamburg Germany.) Although the War in Europe is over, mines still need clearing from German harbours and ports. It was necessary to ensure the Elba was cleared as quickly as possibly as considerable quantities of food would be required if Germany was to avoid starvation.
27 Aug 45 Humber.
1 Jan 47, returned to United States Navy.
7 Feb 47, sold to Holland.

BYMS 2188 took part in the D-day landings sweeping ahead of the Allied invasion fleet.

BYMS 2188 arrived off Cherbourg to start sweeping. Suddenly shells started to fall around her. This was unexpected as the Americans had informed the Royal Navy that Cherbourg had been taken. But one Fort remained in the hands on the enemy.

Chief Petty Officer Davies recalls, “When we arrived the next morning the fort was in ruins, having been pounded by rocket carrying RAF Tempests. (an improved version of the Hawker Typhoon).

Every night the Germans would mine the entrance to Cherbourg Harbour. Each day the minesweeping flotillas would clear the mines.

Sadly, the body of an American soldier floated back and forth on the tide for three days until it was recovered.

MID (Mentioned in Despatches) 
Gerard  CHRISTIANS, LT/KX109929. Chief Engineman. BYMS 2188.

16 January 1945. MID awarded for gallantry and skill in minesweeping operations off the coast of France. Cherbourg approaches.

DSM (Distinguished Service Medal.)

3 April 1945. DSM awarded for great gallantry and endurance in clearing the estuary of the Scheldt of mines during the period of October to November 1944.

Skipper Lieut., R.N.R., R. E. Hannaford (act) (In Command.)  31 Mar 43.
Temp Skipper, R. N. R., L.  Burgess, May 43.
Temp Skipper, R. N. R., J. Mackay, 31 Mar 43.

Skipper Lieut., R.N.R., R. E. Hannaford (act) (In Command.)  31 Mar 43
Temp Skipper, R. N. R., L.  Burgess, May 43
Temp Skipper, R. N. R., J. Mackay, 31 Mar 43.

Skipper Lieut., R.N.R., R. E. Hannaford (act) (In Command.)  31 Mar 43
Temp Skipper, R. N. R., J. Mackay, 31 Mar 43.
Temp Skipper, R. N. R., E. E. Priestley, 7 May 45