The Medusa Trust





HMS Medusa, ML1387, is a Harbour Defence Motor Launch (HDML)

  • Built in Poole in 1943 by RA Newman, she is now the last of 464 vessels of her class that is in original and seagoing condition. HDMLs were designed to provide an offshore anti-submarine screen for harbours but were used for convoy escort, offensive operations and agent landing and recovery.
  • Entirely built of wood and powered by diesel engines she is not fast (12 Knots) but has huge endurance (2500 miles).
  • Medusa's importance to the UK's martime heritage is recognised by her inclusion in the 200 vessels of the National Historic Fleet  (National historic Ships UK).
  • Medusa operates out of Haslar Marina, Gosport. She is fully certificated (Cat 3) by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for commercial use.



Picture courtesy Four Elements Photography


The Medusa Trust, a registered charity, preserves and operates Medusa for future generations.  Our mission is to keep Medusa operational and and at sea as:-


  • An inspiration to the young - we provide training days for Royal Navy cadets, CCF and Sea Cadets to maintain and pass on the unique skills of operating a small ship.
  • A tribute to the veterans - we maintain an extensive archive recording the story of each of the 464 HDMLs and their crews.  HDML Archive. We are always keen to receive new material to add to the archive.
  • A living museum of Coastal Forces history - by our many appearances at ports along the South Coast, Normandy and the Channel Islands.


Medusa and D Day


Medusa was the first Allied warship positioned off Omaha beach in Normandy, arriving on the afternoon of 5th June 1944, 12 hours before the American landings, acting as a marker to show the entrance to a narrow swept channel through the minefield guarding the beaches.

The video below tells a little of her vital role at D-Day. Further video in the video archive.

More detail can be found on the Medusa History pages.


Medusa and VE day


Medusa took the surrender of the German troops at ijmuiden on the 5th May 1945 and then went on up the canal to Amsterdam, the first Allied vessel to arrive there.  Read the full story.


Medusa's refit.


Work to keep Medusa looking smart and seaworthy is an ongoing task.  Between 2005 and 2010 she underwent a major refit funded mainly by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The work was done in conjunction with The Maritime Workshop of Gosport and had a strong educational element with a team of apprentice shipwrights playing a major role in the restoration.  Wherever possible reclaimed materials were used in the resoration and the project completed without the felling of a single new tree.


Medusa was relaunched on 1 March 2010 and a rededication service in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal was held to mark her return to operational service in October 2010.  At this ceremony, Medusa was presented with the new National Historic Fleet Red Ensign.


Maintaining Medusa


Medusa costs about £20,000 a year to maintain and operate.  She is entirely funded by donationas and crewed and maintained 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 he Virgin Money Giving 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 in company with the ships of the Roya Navy First Patrol Boat Squadron

Medusa Trust Trustees

Alan Watson OBE, Chairman and Captain of Medusa.

Lord Strathalmond

Julian James, Esq

Commodore Laurie Hopkins, LVO, RN.

Alan Watson, Pine House, 59 Merdon Avenue, Chandlers Ford, Hants SO53 1GD, Tel 07836 364960
E mail

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Where is Medusa?

You can track our location when we are at sea

on AIS, just follow the link below.  We normally shut the system down when on our berth in Haslar Marina.

Medusa AIS

Corona Virus


Regretably the Corona Virus outbreak means we have had to cancel all public events on Medusa until the end of May.  Our planned trip to the Channel Islands for the 75th aniversay of the liberation has been cancelled as has the visit to the D day beaches in June.


Latest News.


 Finally we have been able to get to sea in Medusa. Our first two trips were sea trials and crew refresher; the second included a visit to Cowes.


On the third we had the company of Shan Merritt and her husband.  Shan's father was the wartime captain of ML1392, now known as Sarinda.  The following weekend on the 5th we had the company of Gemma and Simon Robins who are the current owners of Sarinda.....their film of the trip is on for "ship happens" or follow the link below.


Gemma and Simon on board Medusa



  The following day we were alongside HMS Warrior for the 6th June commemoration.


We are still planning to do our West country cruise and, weather permitting, will be in Yarmouth 1 July, Weymouth 2 July, Dartmouth 3/4 July and Plymouth 5/6/7 July.


There is much to do to prepare and a big thank you to Solent Welding and Fabrication in Fareham for making a special spanner for us.


News 2020.


Christmas 2020 newsletter


Read about Medusa and VE day


The 2020 Spring newsletter is fianlly here with a roundup of Medusa activities and the results of some research on her wartime activities.



News 2019.


Each year seems to get busier.  We again visited France for the D day 75th after welcoming veterans at Portsmouth. 6th June was spent at Pegasus bridge where we had 480 visitors to Medusa in a day.  We then went on to Grandcamp Maisy, Cherbourg and St Peter Port from where we took a party of cadets across to Sark and back.  We are building links with cadet organisations, particularly Warsash Sea Cadets, Gosport Sea Cadets and a number of CCF sections.


We had the pleasure of Tom Cunliffe aboard filming a piece on the Medusa story, well worth a watch.


Tom Cunliffe on Medusa.



News 2018

Another busy year.  Spring saw the usual lift and paint.  We were again used for filming, this time in a programme entitled "The forgotten heroes" about the 51st Highland Division who were trapped in France post Dunkirk and the efforts to rescue them.


This year Medusa returned to Dartmouth for the first time since the 1980s and berthed at Sandquay, part of the RN College, where she last berthed in 1944.


A joint project with Portsmouth University means that our 1960 Decca set again displays our position.  We have a box that takes in GPS and converts it to decca to drive the dials.  Fortunately we kept our Decca charts so we are now the only vessel in the world that can navigate by Decca.


Spring newsletter


Summer Newsletter


Christmas Newsletter



News 2017

Medusa starred in the Dunkirk film released this year. She could be seen in the background several times but her main role was taking Harry Styles from the old mole out to the destroyer waiting offshore (approx 30 mins into the film).

Medusa also featured in the History Channel production "Combat Ships" in Episode 4, "Ships that saved D day" which covers her crucial role marking the minefield off Omaha beach.


This year we took part in the D-Day commemoration at Grandcamp Maisy.  This and more in our newsletters below.


The list of surviving HDMLs has been updated, sadly it gets shorter each time.


Christmas 2017 Newsletter

Spring 2017 Newsletter


News Archive

You can read older news articles in our news archive




Affiliated to the National Museum Of the Royal Navy






Heritage Lottery Fund


The Prism Fund