The Steam Ship LONDON was another fine Ship built at the Leith Shipyards of Hawthorns & Co, Shipbuilders and Engineers, before the yard was taken over by Henry Robb Shipbuilders in 1924.
A ship ordered by the Dundee, Perth & London Steamship Co for passenger trade use on the East Coast Route of the British Isles.
On 29 August 1937 she was sunk after a collision off the Humber and subsequently raised and repaired.
Two years later she was identified by the Admiralty as a vessel of some potential and use.
On 28 August 1939 she first requisitioned, by the Admiralty, for use as an examination vessel, and in October 1939 was renamed Holdfast. Returned to her owners in August 1940 and then re-requisitioned in January 1942.
The Admiralty had once more turned there attention to the SS LONDON and could see her use once converted as a cable/pipe layer.
Gutted and refitted by Green, Siley and Weir Ltd.; this involved the fitting of two 30 ft dia cable tanks each capable of holding 15 statute miles of 2 inch HAIS pipeline. Cable machinery loaned by the GPO was installed by Johnson and Phillips.
Following a series of tests it was finally decided to carry out a full trial with the laying of a pipeline across the Bristol Channel between Swansea and Ilfracombe, a distance of 45 miles.
As HMS HOLDFAST she was to play a massive part in the up-coming invasion of the European mainland, as no matter the outcome of the three allied armies landing on D-Day they would need fuel and this would be more fuel than could be supplied by ships full of "jerry cans" filled with petrol.
The amount of fuel required by three armies and the support could only be supplied by a pipeline, and thus "Operation Pluto" was organised and executed perfectly, an operation on which the future of World War Two depended and it was on of the ships built at the Leith Shipyards of Hawthorns & Co which made this all possible.
At the end of the war HMS HOLDFAST was transferred to the Ministry of War Transport, and she was renamed Empire Taw, and used along with other vessels in the recovery of the various pipes laid.
We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along