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MTB-71 - 60 FT VOSPER MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS:
Type: 60ft Vosper MTB
Service: Royal Navy
Builders: Vosper Ltd. Portsmouth.
Year Built: 1940
Number Built: 4
Displacement: 25.0 Tons
Length: 59½ ft
Beam: 15¼ ft
Draught: 3½ ft
Hull: Mahogany
Engines: 2x 11 5Ohp Isotta Frasehini eng.
Max Speed: 39 knots

In May 1939 Norway ordered eight MTBs from Britain. Four, MTB 5-8, were 60ft Vosper type, built at Portsmouth. MTB 5 and 6 were commissioned by the Royal Norwegian Navy in May 1940, but MTB 7 and 8 were taken over for the Royal Navy in May and became the RN MTB 71 and 72.

The Vosper 60ft type were of traditional MTB hard chine form. They were constructed using frames of Honduras Mahogany with topside planking of double thickness mahogany. The bottom planking was of triple thickness mahogany. Powered by twin Isotta Fraschini petrol engines each rated at 1,150 bhp at 1,800 rpm, the MTBs could attain a maximum speed of 39 knots and a steady cruising speed of 35 knots. Each carried about 1,500 gallons of fuel which gave them a range of 450 miles. MTB 71 had a crew of 2 officers and 8 men. The craft were heavily armed with 2 x 18" Mark XI torpedoes in tubes, a twin 0.303" Lewis machine gun mount in a turret aft of the bridge, and 2 x single 0.303" Lewis machine guns on mountings over the torpedo tubes. As with most craft of this size the armament varied during the war. The twin 0.303" Lewis MGs were later replaced by a twin 0.5" Mark V Fraser-Nash power operated turret with 0.5" Mark III Vickers machine guns and the single MGs over the tubes were later replaced by 0.303" Vickers, gas operated machine guns. MTB 71 was initially fitted for Asdic and originally had provision for 4 x depth charges, later reduced to two. The craft was fitted with radar about 1942 when the bipod mast was removed and replaced by a pole mast fitted to starboard.

MTB 71 was laid down at Vosper's Broad Street, Camber Yard, on 28 July 1939, with the Vosper Yard Number 2019 and commissioned on 2 June 1940. Although Vosper give the hand over date as 5 June, she was not accepted by the Royal Navy until 2 July 1940. She then joined the 11th MTB Flotilla which was based at HMS wasp at Dover under Dover Command. The craft however operated off station including from Portsmouth, on occasions. On the 11 September 1940, MTB 71 was damaged including a fire in her wheelhouse, during an air attack and heavy bombardment of Dover. She was subsequently under repair at Whitstable for about four months which was completed on 9 January 1941. According to a Portsmouth Command action report, on the night of 21/22 June 1941, she was off Etaples when there was an indecisive action where no torpedo targets were seen. MTB 71 sustained slight, superficial damage during the action with enemy escorts and the Petty Officer Stoker was killed.

A further action is recorded on the night of 23/24 July 1941, when units of the 11th MTB Flotilla were off Berck Buoy. A large enemy tanker in tow, escorted by three trawlers was intercepted. During the action MTB 71 was holed by a shell, below the waterline, amidships, which resulted in the flooding of one compartment. She was out of action for about 2 months with repairs completed by the end of September 1941.

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