Builder: Short Brothers Ltd, Sunderland, United Kingdom
Displacement: 7,850 GRT
length: 431 ft
Beam: 56 ft
Draught: 26 ft 9 in
Speed: 11 Knots
Crew complement: 450+
A/Capt. Malcolm Farquhar, RN 18 July 1945
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No images of SOLWAY FIRTH available - this is her sister ship BEAULY FIRTH at Fremantle, March 9th 1946 Photo: State library of Victoria H91.250/1382
Ordered from the shipyard of Short Brothers Ltd, Sunderland as the 7,339 GRT cargo ship EMPIRE LAGOS for the Ministry of War Transport, her keel was laid down on January 22nd 1944. Subsequently requisitioned by the Admiralty for completion as an Aircraft Engine Repair Ship. She was one of five 'Moray Firth' class repair ships building in British yards (BEAULY FIRTH, CUILLIN SOUND, HOLM SOUND, MORAY FIRTH and SOLWAY FIRTH) that were planned as Aviation Repair Ships for deployment with the Fleet Train of British Pacific Fleet (BPF).
She was launched on October 31st 1944; it is unclear if the outfitting was carried out by the Short Brothers yard or whether she was moved to another yard for completion. This work included her being outfitted with general, and specialist aircraft workshops and engine test bays1.
She commissioned as HMS SOLWAY FIRTH on July 18th 1945, Captain Malcolm Farquhar, RN in command. She was named for the body of water that stretches from he estuary of the River Nith, south of Dumfries into the Irish sea. The firth forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria to the South and Dumfries and Galloway to the North.
sister ships of
the 'Moray Firth' class SOLWAY
FIRTH carried two large twin engine lighters for ferrying engines and stores to
and from the aircraft carriers or from shore bases. Defective engines passed
through the various workshops before being test run in one of the two, hangar
like, athwartships test bays on the aft of the ship. When testing engines the
ship would move to a remote anchorage to run them up to full power; this was a
very noisy job so it had to be done away from populated areas, also the force of
the thrust generated by the test propellers coming out of the fully open test
bay were sufficient to drive the ship in a circle around her anchor or to veer
off course if attempted underway.
Although she was commissioned only two
days after her sister ship HMS MORAY FIRTH, there is no record of her sailing from the UK. The July 1945 Navy List details
14 officers appointed to the ship.
The ship appears to have been
placed in the Reserve Fleet and later put up for disposal. In March 1947
work began to convert her back into a cargo carrier in Amsterdam, by
Amsterdamsche Droogdok Mij. NV. for the Skibs A/S Kongsberg and renamed
KONGSBERG. Operated by A G Olsen, Norway. Sold in 1955 to Rederi A/B Borgtramp
and renamed OLOFSBORG. Operated under the management of J A Zachariassen,
Finland. Sold in 1959 to Polish Steamship Co, Szczecin and renamed HUTA FLORIAN.
Arrived on 26 August 1971 at Bilbao, Spain for scrapping.
Various ship departments
These images are of HMS MORAY FIRTH, all three ships of this type were identical in layout, but equipment differed for supported engine types
|In-line engine test rig||Engine test rig control room||Engineering workshop||Blacksmith's shop|
|Carpenter's shop||Electro-Chemical shop||General workshop||General workshop|
|Workshop, function not known||Workshop, function not known||Workshop, function not known||Workshop, function not known|
|Workshop, function not known||Workshop, function not known||Workshop, function not known||Engine repair shop|
|Engine repair shop||Ship's galley||Ship's laundry||Officer's mess|
Click on an image to see a larger version
These images are of HMS. MORAY FIRTH and are from the collection of David Nairn who served on the ship as a Sub-Lieut (A) R.N.V.R. The images are supplied by his daughter and son-in-law, Margaret Nairn and John Struthers. Further HMS Moray Firth images can be found at bit.ly/hmsmorayfirth
1. Records are sketchy for the six Aviation Repair Ships built for the Fleet Air Arm, however there ware two distinct types – Component repair, and Engine Repair. It is highly probable that these ships specialised in either British or American types. What evidence exists suggests the following assignments:
Deer Sound = Component*
Holm Sound = Component* -British airframes and component types
Cuillin Sound = Component
Beauly Firth = Engine* -British in-line Engines
Moray Firth = Engine* - British in-line Engines
Solway Firth = Engine* - American Radial engines?
7521/45 —Complement Amendments (N/G.013545/45.—27 Dec. 1945.) which states:
H.M. Ships “Beauly Firth” , “Moray Firth” and “Solway Firth” as Aircraft Engine Repair Ships (Admiralty Letter N.15743/44 of 5 July, 1944).
H.M.S. “Deer Sound” as Aircraft Component Repair Ship (Admiralty Letter N .29837/43 of 7 March, 1944).
H.M.S. “Holm Sound” as Aircraft Component Repair Ship (Admiralty Letter N .32706/44 of 8 January 1945).
Last modified: 11 May 2018