The two Mystery Ships in March jumped out at me as soon as I saw them. One is Kye Torrent, the former RMAS torpedo recovery vessel Torrent A127, which I helped build during the summer of 1971 at the Clelands Shipyard, a small yard which was part of the Swan Hunter Shipbuilding conglomerate in Howden, Northumberland. Her sistership, which was built almost simultaneously, was Torrid A128.
These were torpedo recovery vessels with a centerline stern ramp to pull the torpedoes up to the main deck for return to the submarine base. A small boom was mounted from a foremast and a hydraulic crane was mounted aft. Two tracks carried the torpedoes along the sides of the main deck. Both participated in the Falkland Islands campaign as minesweepers. Only these two were built in this class.
While in RMAS service, they were painted like the other vessel in the photo, Torch, former A141, which was built about seven years later by Hall Russell of Aberdeen as a larger (660 tons against 468 tons), faster and more sea kindly and efficient torpedo recovery vessel. She was one of four Tornado class vessels and is still wearing RMAS colours, so she may by in reserve awaiting sale. Torrent was acquired by Kye Marine as a survey vessel in 2001 and renamed Kye Torrent.
As an American naval architecture student, I wanted an adventure building steel ships, and I got it – three months under the kind tutelage of Clelands foremen. The Clelands yard is still used as a fabricating facility for offshore energy structures.
Brent Dibner, Chestnut Hill, USA