David’s photo of No3 Basin sparked an excellent response

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jpns-22-07-17 retro July 2017

Sea rescue - Leading Aircrewman Diver Chris Crossley winches one of the teenagers to the safety of a Solent search and rescue helicopter.

THIS WEEK IN 1976: Helicopter rescues three from sea

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David Janes’s photograph earlier this week of ships in No3 Basin in Portsmouth dockyard in the late 1940s, provoked much interest.

He asked if readers could identify the ships, and Trev Roland, of Titchfield Common, was one of the first to respond.

He said the destroyer in the foreground (pennant number R02) is HMS Zest launched by Vosper Thornycroft in October 1943.

Trev said she was converted to a Type 15 anti-submarine frigate between 1954 and 1956. Post-conversion her pennant number changed to F102.

She was scrapped in Dalmuir, Scotland in August 1970.

He added: ‘The ship outboard of HMS Zest is the ex-German destroyer Z38. She was transferred to the Royal Navy at the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945. She commissioned as the RN destroyer HMS Nonsuch between 1945 and 1949.’

He said that Z37 was scuttled in Bordeaux in August 1944, Z39 transferred to the US Navy in May 1945 and Z38 were the only German destroyers to mount twin 5.9 inch guns in a single turret forward.

Trev continued: ‘The submarine in the right-hand corner of the photograph appears to be a British U class vessel as she has a raised casing forward and cut down casing aft.

‘The fleet carrier in the right hand corner of the photograph (in front of the submarine) appears to be a later unit of the Illustrious class (HMS Indomitable, HMS Implacable or HMS Indefatigable).

‘Behind the aircraft carrier, alongside the old 240-ton crane is a Landing Ship Tank (LST) and Bar class boom defence vessel.

‘The black-hulled vessel on the far side of the basin is almost certainly a Wave Class tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

‘The hulls of most RFA tankers in the late 1940s and early 1950s were painted black, with battleship grey upper works/superstructure.’

And he concluded: ‘The ships and their appearance suggest the photograph was taken in the late 1940s.

‘The date will be no later than 1949 as HMS Nonsuch was sold for scrap in that year.’

Mike Noonan got in touch to say he was pretty sure the barge to the right of the two destroyers was a Landing Barge Kitchen, built for the D-Day landings.

He said: ‘This one was used to feed crews of warships in refit with their own galley shut down.’

He said he was guessing that the carrier might be HMS Victorious just commencing a long refit.