Type: Motor Torpedo Boat
Beam: 14ft 9ins
Draft: 3ft 6ins
Displacement: 33 tons
Engine: 2 x Cummins Diesels
Construction: Double- and triple-diagonal Mahogany
Builder: Vosper, Portsmouth
MTB's (Motor Torpedo Boats) were developed to be able to mount a quick response to threats from any sea-going vessel, either warship or submarine. MTB 102 was designed under the designation 'Vosper private venture boat' by Commander Peter du Cane CBE, Managing Director of Vosper Ltd., in 1936. She was completed and launched in May 1937 and ran trials on The Solent.
When she was bought by the Admiralty and brought into service she was called MTB 102 (the 100 prefix denotes a prototype vessel), and 102 was actually the first MTB of the modern era. She was crewed by two officers and eight men and during 1939 and 1940 she saw active service mainly in the English Channel. During 'Operation Dynamo', the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force, she crossed the Channel no less than seven times.
When the destroyer 'Keith' was disabled by a bomb from a Stuka dive bomber, MTB 102 was used by Rear Admiral Wake-Walker as his flagship for the last two nights of the operation. (As she carried no Rear Admirals flag, one of the crew made one from a Navy dishcloth so that MTB 102 proudly flew the 'proper' flag!) MTB 102 was the third to last warship to leave Dunkirk.
In 1943, she was transferred to 615 Water Transport Company, R.A.S.C. and renamed 'Vimy'. In 1944 she carried Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower to review the ships assembled on the South Coast for the D-Day landings and so saw both the end of the desperate evacuation of the British Forces from Europe and the start of their determined return. At the end of the war MTB 102 was sold off along with most other small Naval craft.
She was converted to a private motor cruiser, fitted with two Perkins P6 Diesel engines, and used around the North Sea. After twenty years she was resold and in 1976 was found by a Norfolk Scout Group whilst being converted into a houseboat. She was in need of a lot of attention but was saved by them from an ignominious fate.
In 1976, Kelso Films agreed to refurbish '102 as a World War II MTB for the film 'The Eagle Has Landed' and returned her as a fully operational sea-going vessel. She also took part in a Dutch film called 'Soldier Of Orange'.
'102 took part in the Queens Silver Jubilee Pageant on the river Thames and in 1979, 1984 and 1986 she represented 'Yesterdays Navy' at Portsmouth Navy Days. In 1985 and 1990 she participated in the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships quinquennial crossing to Dunkirk. During the latter crossing a single Spitfire passed over the fleet and waggled its wings - a gesture that Spitfires had made during the evacuation to boost the morale of the soldiers. She went again in 1995 and once again carried Commander Christopher Dreyer, her skipper during the evacuation, who piloted her into Dunkirk as he had done so many years before.
1986 saw her honoured by an inspection by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of the launch of her 50th Anniversary Appeal and she also recently starred in the Channel 4 series 'Classic Ships'.
Length - 68ft overall, Beam - 14ft 9ins, Draft - 3ft 9ins. Built of double diagonal mahogany on Canadian rock elm. Original power - 3 x 1,100hp Isotta Fraschini 57litre petrol engines Speed - 48kts light, 43kts - loaded and armed - the fastest wartime British Naval vessel in service.
Armament - A single torpedo tube was first fitted, firing through the stem via a hatch in the bow. The long bulge of the casing can still be seen, as can traces of the hatch. A second torpedo was delivered to the tube by a rail on the aft deck. It was found during trials that greater accuracy and reliability could be achieved with two side tubes and her original arrangement was permanently changed to two 21inch tubes, angled at 10 degrees from the centre line. The side decks were 'scalloped' to take them. She also took part in depth-charge and machine-gun tests and was fitted with a 20mm cannon made by Oerlikon, a Swiss company.
Maintenance - Spares for her Isotta engines became more difficult to obtain, particularly after the Italians formed their alliance with Germany. Most MTB's were powered by American built Packard marine engines. During private ownership the original engines were replaced with two Perkins P6 Diesels. In 1983 major work was carried out on the hull and decks and it was apparent that the old P6's were going to be the next problem. Generously, Perkins came to the rescue in 1985 by providing two turbo-charged V8 engines.
Rough weather during the 1990 return exposed the need for further extensive strengthening and reinforcement to the hull and en-route to the VJ celebration in 1995 the port engine failed, and the trip was abandoned. In 1996, the diamond anniversary of her design, Cummins Marine supplied new 'Diamond Series' Diesels to take her into her seventh decade. MTB 102 is one of the very few World War II Royal Navy vessels still afloat and is thought to be the only Royal Navy vessel involved in the evacuation that has survived.
Sat, 03/03/2012 - 16:58 — Richard basey
In the years 2011, 2012 MTB102 is under the command of the Commodore ADLS, Richard Basey, and will be leading the ADLS at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II. This will be the 6th time that MTB102 has been involved with the Monarch.
Sun, 06/12/2009 - 13:23 — Richard basey
In 2003 MTB102 was re-engined again with two 600hp Cummins Diesels giving her a top speed of 27 knots. She is regularly seen around the East and South coasts and has been used by all the major television channels. In 2005 MTB102 followed the fast frigates on the sail past for HM The Queen at the International Fleet Review at Spithead.
In order to safeguard the future of MTB102 the MTB102 Trust has taken over Newson’s boatyard at Lowestoft where a collection of military powerboats is being established.
Tue, 02/03/2010 - 13:01
102's present whereabouts
Where is MTB 102 berthed now please.