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Motor Minesweepers fitting out at Husbands 1941

Although the Motor Minesweepers lacked the power to tow sweeps for contact mines they were suitable for handling equipment for combating magnetic mines and later were fitted with an acoustic hammer on an "A" frame over the bows for countering the acoustic mine. The suitability of wood for their construction was illustrated when one of the vessels built at the yard was damaged by a mine which witnesses claimed lifted it clear of the water, but due to the wood's natural flexibility, the damage was repairable. The crew were not quite so fortunate, they all had broken ankles.

The Motor Minesweepers had limited use post war so they were quickly scrapped, but Husbands did convert two for the Salvesen Whaling Fleet for the duty of towing dead whales to the factory ship.

The MFV's (Motor Fishing Vessels ) were smaller vessels based on the Seine net fishing boats. Also of wooden construction, they were widely used as tenders, small store carriers and a variety of other uses. Their smaller size meant that 5 or 6 of them could be built diagonally in each shed at the same time. They were launched sideways.

When the MFV's were completed "ferry crews" were used to take them to their destination. The officer in charge of one such crew, who made several trips from Marchwood was C.H.Lightoller who as a 2nd Officer had survived the sinking of the Titanic. These small vessels were much more useful after the war, a number remained in Naval or Army (RCT) service and many were converted as fishing boats. A few still survive to the present day.

In addition to building wooden warships, Husbands were also fully involved with the repair and maintenance of a wide variety of ships. They repaired a large number of damaged Landing Craft but because these were steel hulled they had to bring in boilermakers from other shipyards. This didn't always work out too well as the strong union background of these workers created problems when repairs needed to be done quickly.

After D-Day Husbands were fully engaged with the maintenance of the U.S.Army vessels tasked with laying the "Pluto" oil pipeline across the Channel. The American armed services had expanded so rapidly that many of the men involved in this job had little or no marine experience, so the yard had to carry out some basic training with them.

Post war, construction of boats decreased, but the firm expanded its shiprepair interests and the name became Husbands Ltd. Even today however, they have a reputation for repairing wooden vessels and sailing ships of this type can often be seen at their yard.

We are indebted to Mr. Richard Husband for his help in producing this article and hope it has given some insight into the wartime activities of one of our area's shipyards. So many such companies have disappeared over the years that it is a reflection of the strength of this family firm that it has continued in service until the present day.


A letter was sent by the Ministry of Defence in July 1982 to Mr B W Husbands refering to the Falklands crisis. Click here to download the letter in an Adobe Acrobat file (127kb)

MFV 819 seen in May 2004 at Kemps Quay, Southampton.
Now named "Sreenuous" ex "Cragoustan". Ordered from Fairmile and built by Thompson E Balfour,Boness,West Lothian in 1945.
(Courtesy Phil Simons. Photo courtesy R Hellyer)

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