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.
His Majesties Rescue Tug HESPERIA was one of the eight in number of Bustler Class Ocean going seep sea rescue tugs built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb, she saw service in the Mediterranean theatre during World War II.
While trying to save a tow off the coast of Libya in a violent storm she was driven into the shore and declared a total constructive lose in February 1945.
She was towing an Admiralty Dry Dock No 24 along with another tug called the "Empire Sandy" and while the Empire Sandy managed to slip the tow HESPERIA was not so fortunate.
Amazingly the other tug working alongside her is still going strong and is in fact a converted vessel with masts now doing adventure cruises around the Great Lakes out of Totonto in Canada.
Very close in design to the "Bustler Class" with the same elliptical stern the old tugs did look very much like old time schooners from midships aft, a pedigree running through the design of a lot of old ships if it looks good then in general it is good.
For more on the "Empire Sandy" just click on the highlighted name.
She was the only one of the Leith built tugs lost during World War II and that was to the weather and not to the enemy.
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.