Part of the Acorn Archive
Hearts of Oak
Visitors to Mount’s Bay
The Last days of HMS WARSPITE
HMS VALIANT and WARSPITE
Picture taken by a second cousin, with her new Carbine camera
in September 1919
From a postcard
On the 23rd April 1947, she went aground in Mounts Bay, Cornwall, en route to the breakers. Minus her guns, WARSPITE was under tow from tugs BUSTLER and METINDA III, heading from Portsmouth to the breakers yard on the Clyde.
A southwest gale swept up on the 21st April. BUSTLER’s hawser parted, just to the south and fifteen miles off Wolf Rock Lighthouse. The storm raged, and the three vessels ( battling for 20 hours already ) drifted closer in towards Mount’s Bay. At noon, METINDA III had to slip her hawser.
The crew on WARSPITE dropped anchor. It did not hold.
Fifty minutes later she was on Mountamopus Ledge, a mile to the southwest of Cudden Point. The 30,000 ton battleship had been driven about thirty miles by the raging sea and high winds. Penlee lifeboat attended and advised that flood tide would refloat WARSPITE; the lifeboat returned to Newlyn harbour as the seas were too rough for a return to the lifeboat house.
Huge waves of thirty feet swept over the battleship, taking her closer to the shore, and driving her on to the rocks at Cudden Ledges, Prussia Cove. The lifeboat returned and managed to get into the narrow 40 yard channel to the landward port side of WARSPITE, and got two lines aboard, the lifeboat rising and falling twenty feet with the waves. It was impossible to stand on deck; the boat crew had to kneel. The lifeboat engines were continually being set full ahead and full astern, to keep the lines, and to prevent the lifeboat from being thrown on the rocks.
It took 35 minutes to get the eight man towing crew (including Captain Baxter) off WARSPITE; it was 8 o’clock when the arrived at Newlyn harbour. The storm had done more damage to WARSPITE than she had received in the two World Wars. It was decided to dismantle her where she lay.
However, after she had been partially dismantled and then lighter, she was eventually moved, towed by tugs ENGLISHMAN and BRAHMAN, and beached at Marazion, and it took ten more years to demolish her; some parts of her remain to this day.
But that is not the end of the story, for on 5th July 1950, the trawler BARNET (part of the salvage team of vessels) was holed overnight, whilst tied up alongside the WARSPITE. Admiraly tug FREEBOOTER came to assist, but could not stop the invasion of water.
Then on 11th November 1950, in a SW gale, Falmouth tug MASTERMAN, also involved with the salvage operation, struck Hogus Rocks, in heavy seas. Her sister tug TRADESMAN, towing MASTERMAN free, received damage, and she had to be towed back by tug SUPERMAN.
Not content with all of that, there was another casualty awarded. One of the ships employed
to take away the scrap metal from her was the Dutch steamship Albatros.
ALBATROS [Signal Letters PCGD]
Built in 1913 by W. Rubertus, Groningen, for G. Drent, Groningen
115 grt; 131 dwt; 91.1 x 19.45 x 8.6 feet
Engines replaced in 1927 with 2cyl x2 (300x350) Hollandia, Smit/Bolnes, Kinderdijk; 98bhp; 8.5 knots
1920 R. Boerma Gebrs., Groningen.
1936 R. Broerken GW Scheepswerf Westerbroek.
1936 H. Meertens, Delfzijl.
During WWII, she was used as a defence balloon barrage ship,
to protect the skies of New Brighton (near Wallesey), Liverpool.
1945 Returned to owners.
23rd December 1952; She was being used to carry scrap from HMS Warspite, being scrapped in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall. Under way from Penzance to Hull, Albatros went aground in thick mist to the West of St.Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight; The crew were rescued, but the ship lost; she broke up in time, on the shore.
Warspite April 1947
Warspite October 1947
Warspite being positioned off Marazion
by Tugs BRAHMAN and ENGLISHMAN
Slowly being dismantled; about 1949
Notes on WARSPITE’s Tugs
BUSTLER; HMRT; Bustler Class
946 grt; 205 ft x 40.4 ft x 16.9 ft
Single screw; Atlas Polar Engines; 3020 bhp; 4000 ihp; Bollard Pull 30 tons
Built 1941 Henry Robb Ltd, Leith; Yard Nr 321
June 1942 Delivered to Admiralty; Pennant W 72 / A 240
1946 Metal Industries Ltd, Leith
1973 Brodospas Split; Renamed MOCNI; Yugoslav; Signal Letters YTQM
1975 Renamed SMJELI (see MASTERMAN, for previous SMJELI)
1995 No longer in Lloyds Register
[She was a sister to TURMOIL, which hit the headlines in 1951,
when she was involved in the FLYING ENTERPRISE incident]
METINDA III Empire tug; Modified Warrior Roach Class
IMO 5389580; Official No. 169193. Call sign MNLQ.
593 grt; 137.1 ft x 33.1 ft x 15.1 ft
Single screw; Aitchison, Blair Ltd Engine; 1080 ihp; Bollard Pull 15 tons
Built 1945 Clelands (Successors) Ltd, Willington Quay, Tyneside. Yard Nr 73
as EMPIRE ROSA; completed as EMPIRE JEAN
Managers : William Watkins Ltd
1946 Metal Industries Ltd, Glasgow; Renamed METINDA III
1961 Spanish Navy; Renamed RA 3
1980 Renamed AR 33
1982 Scrapped, Cartageña
ENGLISHMAN; Empire Tug; Englishman Larch Class
IMO 5071561; ON 169167; Signal Letters MQTC
Built 1942 Clelands (Successors) Ltd, Willington; Yard Nr 66
479 grt; 136.0 ft x 30.1 ft x 15.3 ft
Engines Walker Brothers (Wigan) Ltd; 1400 ihp
1947 Risdon Beazley Ltd, Southampton
1948 Renamed ASHFORD
1952 Great Lakes Paper Co Ltd, Port Arthur; Renamed CHRIS M;
Signal Letters VDYQ
1970 Gravel and Lake Services Ltd, Port Arthur
1974 Strathearne Terminals (Hamilton) Ltd, Port Arthur
1979 Joyce E. Rogers; Renamed EMPIRE SANDY
1982 Converted into a ferry
1983 Empire Sandy Inc, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
1985 Converted to 3 masted 434 grt schooner
Built 1938 Cochrane & Sons Ltd, Selby
208 grt; 101 ft x 20 ft
Single screw steam, 850 ihp
Owners United Towing Co, Hull
[United Towing Co Ltd, comprised the united companies, formed in 1921, of City Steam Towing Co Ltd, T Gray & Co Ltd, Humber Towing Co Ltd, Premier Tug Co Ltd, T C Spink (tug owner) and Troy Steam Tug Co Ltd. The group owned 39 tugs, 16 of which were those of T Gray, and the names of the tugs in the fleet continued T Gray’s suffix MAN; in 1939 the fleet comprised 22 tugs, including three of the nation’s five seagoing tugs]
1945 Thames Services (Marine) Ltd, Gravesend
1948 J.H. Pigott & Son Ltd, Grimsby; Scrapped after an accident at sea
FREEBOOTER HMRT; Brigand Class
Built 1940 Fleming & Ferguson Ltd, Paisley, Scotland
Commissioned : 29th April 1941; Pennant W01
1949 Complete Refit; Based at Devonport
December 1959 Sold off
1961 Scrapped at Genoa
MASTERMAN Empire tug; Englishman Larch Class
IMO 5332484; ON 164910
Built 1941 Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Goole; Yard Nr 353
as EMPIRE LARCH; Registered Goole; Signal Letters BCKR
482 grt; 142.5 ft x 30.1 ft x 15.2 ft
Single screw, Amos and Smith Ltd Engine; 200 nhp; 1,350 ihp; Sp 10kN
1946 United Towing Co Ltd, Hull; Renamed MASTERMAN
Registered Hull; Signal Letters MAPD
1962 Brodospas, Split; Renamed SMJELI;
Yugolslav flag; Registered Split; Signal Letters YTNJ
1973 Scrapped, Split
TRADESMAN Empire tug; Modified Englishman Larch Class
IMO 5367025; ON 169182
Built 1944 Clelands (Successors) Ltd, Willington Quay; Yard Nr 70
as EMPIRE JULIA; Registered Newcastle; Signal Letters MKYW
592 grt; 143.2 ft x 33.1 ft x 15.1 ft
Single screw; Ailsa Shipbuilding Co Ltd Engine; 191 nhp; 1150 ihp; Sp 13kN
1946 United Towing Co Hull; Renamed TRADESMAN; Registered Hull
1963 Nicolas E. Vernicos Shipping Co Ltd; Renamed VERNICOS KITTY
Greek flag; Registered Piraeus; ON 2373; Signal Letters SYTV
1973 Metan Agir Celik Izabe Sanayii, Turkey
1974 Scrapped at Kartal, Turkey
Laid down in 1933, but not commissioned until 1939.
359 ton Seagoing Tug (one of five in the country at the outbreak of war)
Owners United Towing Co, Hull
Builder, History and Fate unknown.
Reference : W H Mitchell and L A Sawyer; The Empire Ships
and Reports in the Cornishman Newspaper