NO less than in the land operations, the fight at sea was also an engineers’ war. The new methods and techniques, some only invented and perfected as the war proceeded, called for special ships to perform difficult and hazardous operations and at the same time protect themselves from enemy attack. The need for powerful rescue tugs became apparent even before the full weight of the submarine
attack was felt.
Before the war the firm had designed for the Overseas Towage and Salvage Corporation the most powerful tugs afloat in an attempt to gain for this country a lead in this class of vessel and to remove the stigma under which British shipping has lain of having to go to a foreign country for any very heavy salvage or towing operation.
When war came these plans were placed at the disposal of the
Admiralty, who adopted them with suitable modifications. Eight tugs
were ordered and all were built at Leith. The service they were able to
render the country fully justified the confidence of the designers.
H.M.S. ” Loch Insh,” a Frigate, saw a good deal of service in the
Atlantic. She sank one submarine on her own account and shared in
the sinking of another.
H.M.S. ” Windrush ” and H.M.S. ” Glenarm “-two more Leith Frigates—were presented to the Free French and became respectively
” L’Aventure ” and ” Strule.”
M.V. ” Cubahama.” The building and delivering of this fine 15-knot ship to her United States owners in 1938 caused a mild furore in British
shipbuilding circles. Built specially for the West Indies banana trade, this ship was requisitioned by the Air Branch of the U.S. Navy and eventually purchased outright and re-named ” U.S. Kaula.” Whilst attached to the Naval Air Arm, the ship rendered very useful service in the Pacific campaigns and took part in some epoch-making battles.
This means that Robb ships are now serving in no fewer than six Allied Navies—the Royal Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, the United States Navy, the Free French Navy, and the Chinese Navy, giving fine support for their merchant ships carrying supplies across every ocean.
H.M. Frigate ” Derg” was amongst the ships of the British Pacific Fleet present during the signing of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.
It was interesting to learn from her Commander that ” Derg ;:
withstood one of the heaviest Atlantic gales experienced during all the
To H.M.S. ” Nith,” a Frigate, fell the distinction of being selected as a Headquarters ship for D-Day operations.
During one specially fierce bombing attack the ship was hit and
nine men were killed.
Repairs were effected at Cowes and ” Nith ” then went to the Far East, where she was prominent in the operation which led up to the
capture of Rangoon. Here again she had the position of honour as the
H.Q. ship of Captain M. J. Murphy, R.N., N.O.I.C., Rangoon.
Another of our ships to claim a U-boat as a certain ” kill” was H.M.S. ” Ness,” who attacked her victim off the Spanish coast in 1943. This was the first of the famous River Class Frigates commissioned from Leith.