The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1939 to 1945 HMRT BUSTLER - Yard No 321- Bustler Class Rescue Tug - Royal Navy - Built 1941

Leith Shipyards

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HMRT BUSTLER - Yard No 321- Bustler Class Rescue Tug - Royal Navy - Built 1941



 The Ocean Salvage and Rescue Tug BUSTLER was the lead ship of the BUSTLER Class tugs.
 HMRT BUSTLER a "Bustler Class" Rescue Tug.  
Owners   Royal Navy
Registered     Keel Laid    01/02/1941
Type of Ship    Ocean Rescue/Salvage Tug Launched    04/12/1941
Ship Details          
Length Overall    205' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    190' 0" Weather    
Beam    38' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     19' 0"      
Draught    16' 11"      
G.R.T.    1100 tons      
Complement     42 Officers and Men      

 2 x 8 cylinder Diesels (Atlas Polar)

BHP 3020

Props    1      
Speed    16 knots      
Armament    1 x 12 pdr AA gun, 1 x 2 pdr AA, 2  x 20 mm AA  and 4 x Lewis .303 machine guns      
Other known names   1973-Mocni, 1975-Smjeli    
Current Status   Broken up in Yogoslavia 1989    
Content on HMRT BUSTLER will be added as and when available. 
HMRT BUSTLER (A240) Ship No 321
 (Photo credits to RFA Plymouth)
Ships History

Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, in the case of a ship for the Royal Navy this meant she also had to be commissioned as fit for purpose, once commissioned she was then considered ready for action and would take her place in the fleet.

 The BUSTLER Class of tug was designed and built in the shipyards of Leith, and Henry Robb where to provide 8 ships of this Class for the Royal Navy, making them the first RN Fleet Tugs powered by 2 x 8 cylinder diesel engines. The tugs were ordered in pairs. Oil fuel capacity was 405 tons which gave a range of about 1700 miles. As completed, the Class was armed with 1 x 12 pdr AA gun, 1 x 2 pdr AA, 2  x 20 mm AA  and 4 x Lewis .303 machine guns and had a complement of 42. They were designed for ocean towing, salvage and rescue and had a 30 ton bollard pull but were not suitable for harbour work. Early in the War they were involved in trials of pressure-minesweeping methods, where a dumb barge was towed behind the tug with the aim of exploding mines intended for merchant ships and warships. Unfortunately the pressure wave created by the tug alone was sufficient to detonate the mines, so the trials were abandoned. Post-War, the Class was ideal for commercial charter and eventually 6 of the Class saw service as Royal Fleet Auxiliaries.

HMRT BUSTLER was launched from the yard on 4th of December 1941, and was soon commissioned and put straight to work in the battle of the Atlantic. She was involved in many daring rescues including the rescue of the Empire Treasure after she lost her propeller. BUSTLER towed the Empire Treasure over 1900 nm in gale force winds to bring her safely back to port.

She was the lead ship of her class and was to serve throughout the war, saving many hundreds of lives and many thousands of tons of precious cargo and much needed shipping. With a useful working life of 48 years she was a real testement to her builders.

To be continued.

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.


Tales from the Ship

Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.

Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.

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0 #2 ray gill 2014-12-18 12:35
I sailed on the bustler in 1967 with philpots and burt the cook and joe dixon
+6 #1 Richard Codd 2011-12-09 14:02
my father John Codd served on the Bustler during ww2 Stories include attempting rescue of HMS Ark Royal off Gibralter and towing HMS Manxman after she had been torpedoed

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