The History of Leith

January 4, 2011

Operation Pluto

H.M.S. ” Bustler ” was one of the tugs mainly responsible for towing the ” Conun” pipe-laying drum loaded with 1500 tons of steel pipes across the Channel in connection with the great” Pluto ” operation for the invasion of Normandy.

Model experiments at the National Physical Laboratory had indicated
that the ” Bustler ” class was one of the only two types of tug
which could provide the necessary power to achieve the desired operational laying-speed of five to six knots. Eventually it was found
necessary to use two tugs keeping station abreast for the longer
distances, though from Dungeness to Boulogne only one was used. The
” Bustler ” was accompanied in the task of towing the vital petrol-line
across the Channel by H.M.S. “Marauder.”
A remarkable tow, which would have been impossible but for the
very powerful tugs this Company built for the Royal Navy, was also
carried out by ” Bustler,” the first to be completed. At the end of 1943
a large and badly needed 14,000 ton merchant ship, ” Durham,” was
lying at Gibraltar with a big hole in her bows, most of her stern missing,
and other severe damage.
It was ” Bustler’s ” job to get her back to England through 1500
miles of water infested by submarines. She set off with her charge with
a trawler and a corvette in attendance. Submarine attacks sometimes
reached three in twenty-four hours, and in addition to fighting off these, the little convoy had to skirt round our own minefields. The big ship, drawing 52 feet by the stern, was veering all over the place, but the tow was successfully completed.
” Bustler’s ” Commanding Officer was then Lieut.-Commander E.
Bond, R.N.R. Her present Chief Officer says, ” ‘ Bustler ‘ is a fine
ship and in our opinion the finest equipped and most comfortable ocean
tug afloat.”

source-Leith built ships on War Service

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