Aircraft Component Repair Ship
Pennant No. B319

On a Field gold: A holm oak (Ilex) proper.

Battle Honours




Builder:  William Gray & Co. Hartlepool, United Kingdom

Displacement: 7,339 GRT

length: 431 ft

Beam: 56 ft

Draught: 26 ft 9 in

Speed: 11 Knots

Crew complement: 450+

Commanding Officers:

Commander. W.S. Byles, RD, RNR Mar 1945 10 Oct 1945

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H.M.S. HOLM SOUND at sea after completion. Photo: © IWM (FL 13933)


Early history

Her keel was laid down as the 7,339 GRT cargo ship EMPIRE LABUAN for the Ministry of War Transport, yard number 1166, at William Gray & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool., on November 4th 1943. She was launched on September 5th 1944 and requisitioned by the Admiralty for completion as a component Repair Ship. She was one of five 'Moray Firth' class repair ships building in British yards (BEAULY FIRTH, CUILLIN SOUND, HOLM SOUND, MORAY FIRTH and SOLWAY FIRTH) that were planned as Aviation Repair Ships for deployment with the Fleet Train of the British Pacific Fleet.

She was completed by William Gray & Co Ltd in November 1944 and moved up the coast to South Sheilds1 to be outfitted with specialist workshops and equipment for the support of British airframes and component types2 Fairey Barracuda, Fairey Firefly, and Supermarine Seafire. Like her sister ships DEER SOUND and CUILLIN SOUND the HOLM SOUND carried two large, twin engine, lighters for ferrying airframes to and from the aircraft carriers or from shore bases.

She commissioned as HMS HOLM SOUND, at South Shields, in March 1945, Commander, W. S.  ByJes RD RNR in command. She was named for the stretch of water between Burray, Lamb Holm and Mainland Orkney, Scotland.

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

She remained alongside at South Shields throughout the summer months and did not sail for Australia until November 22nd 1945. She called at Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Aden, Bombay, Cochin, Colombo, and the Cocos Islands. She crossed the equator on January 26th 1946 and docked in Freemantle on February 9th. Another Aviation Repair Ship, HMS DEER SOUND docked in Fremantle the day before but her stay was short, sailing on the 10th for the U.K.

The ship was berthed at D shed, Victoria Quay before moving to No. 8 berth, North Wharf on the 13th. On the 20th she was joined by the Dutch sloop VAN KINSBERGEN which was moored alongside, she had moved from F Shed, Victoria Quay to make room for the Liner DOMINION MONARCH. There is no evidence to suggest that HOLM SOUND operated in her capacity as a component Repair Ship after leaving the U.K., on her arrival in Fremantle she was alongside for a fortnight before work began loading stores for the return home. [It is assumed that she was deemed no longer needed in her role as a BPF repair ship before leaving Ceylon, and was cleared of air stores and workshop machinery, either in Ceylon or dumped overboard at sea, to make room for cargo for the return voyage.]

Food for Britain Ship

Over 5,000 cases of goods were embarked from the Lord Mayor's Food for Britain appeal3; the largest consignment of gift food for Britain dispatched from the port on any one ship, this comprised mostly of tinned meats and fats and was collected through the generosity of the people of Western Australia and the city of Perth.

HMS HOLM SOUND sailed for the U.K. on Sunday 3 March 1946 retracing her route via Aden and Gibraltar; she reached the UK on April 26, 1946 and docked at Portsmouth.


After unloading her cargo of food the ship was decommissioned and laid up at Boness, on the Firth of Forth  by the summer of 1946. and put up for disposal She was sold in 1949 to Aviation & Shipping Ltd., reconverted to a cargo ship band renamed AVISBAY, under the management of Purvis Shipping Co Ltd, London. Sold in 1950 to Elder Dempster Lines, Liverpool and renamed PRAH. Sold in 1959 to Atlanska Plovidba, Yugoslavia and renamed NAPRIJED. Arrived at Split for scrapping on 13 May 1969.



1. Moved to an un-named shipyard for outfitting, most of her crew joined her at South Shields.

2. Records are sketchy for the six Aviation Repair Ships built for the Fleet Air Arm, however there ware two distinct types  – Component repair, and Engine Repair. It is highly probable that these ships specialised in either British or American types. What evidence exists suggests the following assignments:


Deer Sound = Component*
Holm Sound = Component* -British airframes and component types
Cuillin Sound = Component
Beauly Firth = Engine*  -British in-line Engines
Moray Firth = Engine*

Solway Firth = Engine*


*See AFO 7521/45 —Complement Amendments (N/G.013545/45.—27 Dec. 1945.) which states:
H.M. Ships “Beauly Firth” , “Moray Firth” and “Solway Firth” as Aircraft Engine Repair Ships (Admiralty Letter N.15743/44 of 5 July, 1944).
H.M.S. “Deer Sound” as Aircraft Component Repair Ship (Admiralty Letter N .29837/43 of 7 March, 1944).
H.M.S. “Holm Sound” as Aircraft Component Repair Ship (Admiralty Letter N .32706/44 of 8 January 1945).


3. Originally an appeal made by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne in September 1945 to send food to Britain in Mercy Food Shipments. The appeal became nation-wide but was still called the Lord Mayor's Food for Britain appeal.

Primary information sources

Last modified: 11 May 2018