Aircraft Engine Repair Ship
Pennant No. B328

Battle Honours

None

 

Specifications

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+

Commanding Officers:

A/Capt. Malcolm Farquhar, RN 18 July 1945
 

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H.M.S. SOLWAY FIRTH

 

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

 

Early history

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.

Like her 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.
 

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

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.
 

Post War

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
     
Wardroom  

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


 

Notes:

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?

 

*See AFO 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).

 



Primary information sources

Last modified: 11 May 2018