Turmoil – Bustler Class Rescue Tug

15th September 1963 visiting Leith Docks. She was collecting the flamer and would collect another two boats elsewhere and tow all three to Falmouth.

The Turmoil, Order Number 337, Keel laid 14.7.44, Launched 11.5.45, Sailed 24.8.45 built to specifications which I have described previously (see my post on BUSTLER RESCUE TUGS for details of these and those of her sister ships). The order book also notes that the specifications included the ability to carry 25 days fuel. The order book has a note, obviously written in later showing she had been renamed, Nisos Kerkyra.

Her most famous involvement was in the heroic struggle to save the Flying Enterprise. The Turmoil had been trying to tow the crippled American freighter into Falmouth in heavy seas against all the odds. The Flying Enterprise had left Hamburg on 21st December 1951 for the USA with a cargo of pig iron, coffee, rags, VW cars, antiques and naphthalene along with 10 passengers. Some people have speculated that the cargo included more valuable items as well, such as gold and/or zirconium.

On 25th December she was caught in a storm and suffered damage including a crack across the weather deck and her cargo shifted. By the time an SOS was sent on 28th December she was listing 45 degrees to port. Help was offered by SS Southland and USS General AW Greely and on 29th December the crew and passengers were evacuated. One male passenger’s life was lost, the others reached safety, but Captain Kurt Carlsen refused to leave his ship.

The USS John W Weeks relieved the other merchant ships on 2nd January 1952 and when the Turmoil arrived on 3rd January, she was guided by the searchlights from her to the Flying Enterprise. Struggling to take the Flying Enterprise, which was now listing at 60 degrees, in tow Kenneth Dancy, the Turmoil’s mate transferred to the Flying Enterprise on 4th January and they managed to set up a tow and began the long, 300 nautical miles, journey to Falmouth.

The USS Willard Keith relieved the John W Weeks and the French tug Abeille 25 came to help with the rescue effort. The struggle came to a head on 10th January when the tow line parted only 41 nautical miles from Falmouth. The “Satellite” and tugs “Englishman” (Turmoil’s renamed sister the Reward?) and Dexterous joined in the fray.

Eventually, with only the funnels visible and unable to stay on board any longer when the pressure burst open the wheelhouse door, Dancy and Carlsen swam for the Turmoil. The Flying Enterprise sank just after 4.00 in the afternoon to whistle, siren and foghorn salutes from the watching flotilla.

Some have suggested that heading for Cork, which was a closer harbour, would have been a better idea, but we shall never know whether that would have saved the Flying Enterprise or not.

Lloyds awarded Captain Carlsen the VC for heroism, Kenneth Dancy was awarded a medal for Industrial Heroism by the Daily Herald and the crew of the Turmoil were also rewarded for their valour at a luncheon given in their honour.

Time Magazine has an article with some of the radio messages and other details available online. You can find it here: TIME MAGAZINE ON FLYING ENTERPRISE .

My thanks to John Stewart of www.oldleither.com who sent me the two pictures above to use in my blog some considerable time ago when I began my research.

  1. You may also be interested in: Bustler Tug Model in Museum

 Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2011

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About Ruth Macadam

Great Granddaughter of Henry Robb. School teacher.
This entry was posted in British Shipbuilding, British War Ships, Henry Robb, Leith docks, Leith Shipbuilding, Robb's Ships, Scottish Shipbuilding, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Turmoil – Bustler Class Rescue Tug

  1. c.d. barnes says:

    we all know about the turmoil but not much about the Dexterous which lost the brasian
    battleship san paullo where six lives was lost by being breach?? up the channel,for scrap
    turmoil was pride of the fleet but other tugs were just good

  2. If you want to know about the heroic role of the Turmoil and other Rescue Tugs in WWII then visit http://www.maydaytugsofwar.com/. These RN Rescue Tugs, and the MN tugs that sailed alongside them and did the same job, built the two breakwaters at Normandy under enemy fire and then constructed the Mulberry harbours which allowed the allied army to be resupplied. This and other feats of incredible seamanship and bravery are a little known story of the war at sea

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