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Ships Taken Up From Trade

Atlantic Conveyor is refuelled by RFA Tidepool during her journey South
Atlantic Conveyor is refuelled by RFA Tidepool during her journey South

Although the Royal Navy was normally supported on most of its normal peacetime operations by the ships and personnel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the scale and distance from bases of Operation Corporate made it clear that further shipping would be necessary.  This was provided by Ships Taken Up From Trade, or the unlovely term, STUFT.

These ships came from all parts of the merchant fleet – from the giant Queen Elizabeth II to small tugs.  They were pressed into service in a large number of roles.  A few of these were as troop transports, solid stores carriers, tankers and repair ships as well as many others.  In order to make them fit for their new purposes, significant and rapid work was necessary.  This was probably most marked in passenger liners such as Canberra which needed accommodation changed to suit troops rather than cruise passengers, the fitting of improvised flight decks, refuelling rigs and improved communications.

STUFT ships were not confined to remote areas.  Several sailed into San Carlos with the amphibious force on 21 May and came under fire.  Even in remote areas attack was possible, the tanker British Wye surviving an air attack.  The contribution of these ships was great demonstrating an import facet of maritime power.