HMNZS Santon (M1178) was a Ton class minesweeper that operated in the Royal Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), and the Argentine Navy. Built for the Royal Navy by Fleetlands Shipyards of Portsmouth, the minesweeper was launched on 18 August 1955 and commissioned as HMS Santon. She was named after a small village in Humberside.
The minesweeper was commissioned in the RNZN from 1965 to 1966, when she was returned to the United Kingdom. She was later transferred to the Argentine Navy, and operated as ARA Chubat (M3).
The New Zealand Era
Early in 1965, Indonesia was employing a policy of confrontation against Malaysia. New Zealand agreed to assist Malaysia by deploying two Royal Navy minesweepers then in reserve at Singapore. These were commissioned into the RNZN on 10 April 1965 and joined the Royal Navy's 11th Minesweeping squadron (also Ton class), taking part part in anti-infiltration patrols in Malaysian waters.
In her first year Santon, together with her sister ship Hickleton, carried out 200 patrols, with 20 incidents involving intruding Indonesians, often taking as prisoners those aboard the intercepted craft.
In April 1966, Santon assisted in the rescue of the crew of the wrecked Panamanian freighter Carina. By the time the Indonesian confrontation policy ended in August 1966, Santon had steamed 67,400 miles. Following the withdrawal of Commonwealth ships from the anti-infiltration patrols, the RNZN crew took her back to England, where she paid off in reserve at Portsmouth in November 1966.
HMNZS Santon and sister ship HMNZS Hickleton are the only commissioned RNZN ships never to have visited NZ.
The story of HMNZS Santon and HMNZS Hickleton are in the book A Kiwi on our Funnel