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.