The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans



Aircraft Engine Repair Ship

No badge issued for this vessel

Pennant No. B327


Battle Honours







Builder: Redhead & Sons Ltd. South Shields, United Kingdom

Displacement: 6,924 tons

Length: 431 ft

Beam: 56 ft

Draught: 26 ft 6 in

Speed: 11 Knots

 Crew complement: 450+


Commanding Officers

Captain William Thomas Fitzgerald R.D. RNR 16.07.1945 -04.1946  





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Photo: © IWM (FL 16404)

Early history

Originally laid down as the EMPIRE PITCAIRN for the Ministry of War Transport on February 13th 1944 at the Redhead & Sons Ltd. Shipyard, South Shields, England, Yard Number 542, she was launched on July 10th 1944.

Subsequently requisitioned by the Admiralty for conversion into the an Aircraft Engine Repair Ships. She was one of five 'Moray Firth' class repair ships building in British yards1 (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 British Pacific Fleet (BPF).

HMS MORAY FIRTH was the only 'Moray Firth' class repair ship to be completed by a single shipbuilder, her sister ship BEAULY FIRTH, also built by Redhead & Sons Ltd., was completed by Palmers and Co. at Hebburn. She was outfitted with general, and specialist aircraft workshops and engine test bays; it is believed she was tasked with repairing British Rolls-Royce ‘Merlin’ engines1.

She commissioned as HMS MORAY FIRTH on July 16th 1945, Captain William Thomas Fitzgerald R.D. RNR in command. She was designed for Engines to be passed through the various workshops before being test run in one of the two, hangar like, athwartships test bays on the aft of the ship. When testing engines the ship had to move to a remote anchorage to run them up to full power; this was a very noisy job so it had to be done away from populated areas, also the force of the thrush generated by the test propellers coming out of the fully open test bay were sufficient to drive the ship in a circle around her anchor or to veer off course if attempted underway.

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

Although she was commissioned only two days before her sister ship HMS SOLWAY FIRTH, there is no record of her sailing from the UK. The July 1945 Navy List details 18 officers appointed to the ship.

Post War

In December 1947 she was purchased from the Admiralty by Stag Line Ltd. for £80,500 and converted to a dry cargo ship by Tvne Dock Engineering Co. Ltd., South Shields at a cost of £98,597 and renamed LINARIA. She entered service inApril 1948. November 1954 Sold to Chellew Navigation Co. Ltd., London (later renamed Esk Shipping Co Ltd for £230,000 and renamed ESKGLEN. Sold 1961 to Fortune Shipping Co. Ltd., Hong Kong and renamed MARINE FORTUNE, before being sold on to Herald Shipping Co. Ltd. (World Wide (Shipping) Ltd. managers) Hong Kong. Sold to Japanese shipbreakers and arrived at Yokosuka June 8th 1967 to be broken up.

The officers of H.M.S. MORAY FIRTH

Various ship departments

Thes images below are of the interior of HMS MORAY FIRTH; all three ships of this type were identical in layout, but equipment differed for supported engine types  Click an image to enlarge it.

In-line engine test rig

Engine test rig control room

Engineering workshop

Blacksmith's shop

Carpenter's shop

Electro-Chemical shop

General workshop

General workshop

Workshop, function not known

Workshop, function not known

Workshop, function not known

Workshop, function not known

Workshop, function not known

Workshop, function not known

Workshop, function not known

Engine repair shop

Engine repair shop

Ship's galley

Ship's laundry

Officer's mess


Dedication ceremony order of service

Dedication ceremony order of service

These images are of HMS. MORAY FIRTH and are from the collection of David Nairn who served on the ship as a Sub-Lieut (A) R.N.V.R. The images are supplied by his daughter and son-in-law, Margaret Nairn and John Struthers. Further HMS Moray Firth images can be found at

1. 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* - British in-line Engines
Solway Firth = Engine* - American Radial engines?

*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).


Last modified: 16 June 2020


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Peter Moray Malin
Oct 2017
My father was an officer on this ship, he was a lieutenant in the fleet airarm and an engineer during it participation in the fleet that sailed as part of the fleet that waw going towards japan. |My knowledge is that they reached suez when the bomb was dropped on hiroshima ending the war.My middle name was chosen from his involvement there.
Phillip Needham
Feb 2017
First Poster
Phillip Needham (Doncaster) says...
My father, Thomas James Needham sailed on the ship's last journey from Belfast to Portsmouth. The captain decided that as it would e his last voyage he would sail around the Scottish isle and down the east coast.
On leaving Belfast there we no dock hands available to cast of so he told all crew to clear the decks. He then on full power manovered from the dock causing the Hauser's to snap and fly back across the deck.
My father was in the Royal Navy on Dems duty as a guest gunner on wings of the bridge
When off Flambrough head be sunk two mines using the first officers 303 rifle after abortive efforts by the officer.
When in Portsmouth they had leave the harbour to test the aircraft engines because of the noise.
He remembered the Moray Firth with affection.
Page 1 of 1


Search RN Research Archive materials on-line


HM Ships COLOSSUS, GLORY, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE. GLORY did not arrive in Sydney until August 16th.


At the end of June 1945, the Admiralty implemented a new system of classification for carrier air wings, adopting the American practice one carrier would embark a single Carrier Air Group (CAG) which would encompass all the ships squadrons.


Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.


The reminiscences of

Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .

Drafted to

Coming home

In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.

Gordon Theaker