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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The Admiralty was in fact Henry Robb shipyards largest customer, mostly due to the warship building requirements of World War II.

Aside from warships the Leith Shipyards were called upon to also build some much needed Ocean Going Rescue Tugs.



HMRT BUSTLER lead ship of the "Bustler Class" Ship No 321

Ocean Going Tug Boats during World War II

TUG BOATS did vital work on the North Atlantic Convoy route, during the Battle of the Atlantic, from 1941 to 1944 during World War II helping stricken ships - boosting the war effort by saving hundreds of warships and their crews.

The Royal Navy's Rescue Tug Section was set up at the beginning of the war to provide suitable ocean-going tugs to save torpedoed ships. This was dangerous work requiring the greatest skills to ensure that ships were brought to safe havens despite bad weather, the presence of submarines and enemy aircraft.

At the start there were only four Royal Navy tugs and eight civilian requisitions available for deep-sea work. However, these inadequacies were remedied by concerted action.

By the end of the war, due to newly-built additions from British and US shipyards, this number had grown to more than 80. With 10% of this number built in the Leith shipyards.



Eight of the tugs built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb where of the "Bustler Class" a class of tug that the shipyard at Leith had put a lot of work into the design of, and once accepted by the Admiralty full production of the first four went into force.

The tugs were His Majestys Rescue Tugs, HMRT BUSTLER, HMRT SAMSONIA, HMRT GROWLER AND HMRT HESPERIA all built and launched in 1941/42.

The remaining four rescue tugs were all built in 1944/45 and were named


The rescue tugs were largely manned by Merchant Navy crews serving under Royal Navy orders.



From 1941 they were based at Campbeltown, Scotland, and from 1943 a rescue tug was attached to every transatlantic convoy..

By the end of the war the "Campbeltown Navy" had helped to save more than three million tons of Allied shipping, over 250 warships and hundreds of Allied seamen, mostly in the North Atlantic.

Twenty rescue tugs were lost on active service. Almost one quarter, a high price to pay.

A total of Eight of "The Bustler Class" were built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland.

The Bustler Class Tugs built in Henry Robb were to serve in a few battle zones around the oceans and provided first class service during the conflict, and some were to go on to feature in rescues World Wide.

To be continued.


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