Historic Motor Gun Boat Restoration by Berthon
Berthon Boat Company in Lymington UK was awarded the contract by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust for the restoration and re-engining of Motor Gun Boat 81 (MGB 81).
Berthon’s history with the Motor Gun Boats (MGB) and Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) goes all the way back to 1939, when numerous MGB and MTB hulls and complete boats were built or fitted out at the Hampshire boat yard during World War Two.
This adaptable hull design allowed the vessel to be converted between a torpedo and gun boat variant depending on missions. MGB 81 is a 71.5ft Motor Gun Boat built by the British Powerboat Company for the Royal Navy and launched on 26 June 1942. MGB 81 had a chine hull form using double-diagonal mahogany sides and a triple diagonal mahogany bottom.
When built, she was among the fastest boat of her type in the world and capable of speeds in excess of 42 knots, but considering her age, with the new engines she will be limited to 34 knots. MGB 81 and her sister vessels were involved in action in the English Channel, attacking enemy torpedo boats and landing secret agents on occupied soil.
MGB 81 is unique as she is the only restored and operational example of a Royal Navy Coastal Forces MGB which saw active service in WW2. As a result of the restoration techniques used, she will retain most of her original performance capabilities but will now be stronger, lighter and require less maintenance.
The refit included stripping her from stem to stern, and replacing the structural frames and longitudinal stringers in pairs so as to safeguard the original hull and fittings and keep it as original as possible. One of the largest jobs included replacing the 3 MAN 835hp engines with 3 new FPT C13 825hp diesel engines. Both Berthon and the PNBPT wanted to keep MGB 81 as original as possible. However the replacement engines will be more reliable, fuel efficient and lighter than the originals.
CONGRATULATIONS to all the team at Berthon for their excellent work preparing MGB 81 for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day
IMAGE CREDIT: Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust / Berthon Boat Company
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