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HMS Dasher

Touring the waters in and around Glasgow is a fascinating experience on many levels. One of the things we love most is the mystery. Though we consider ourselves fairly knowledgeable about Scotland’s history as related to her waterways, there is still plenty that we don’t know. Taking boat tours out onto the rivers, canals and lochs give us an opportunity to look a little more deeply into the past.

One excellent example of the many mysteries this area holds is the WWII-era explosion of the aircraft carrier Dasher. We know the vessel exploded shortly after being pressed into military service. We don’t know why it exploded or what happened to the bodies of those men lost at sea in the tragedy. Many people – especially family members of those lost – would really love to know what actually happened on that fateful day in 1943.

A Doomed Vessel

The Dasher was never designed or built to be a military vessel. Rather, it was supposed to be a merchant vessel ferrying goods across the Atlantic from the US. But British military officials decided to convert the ship into a makeshift aircraft carrier in order to support the air war against Germany.

As detailed by the Scotsman, the Dasher was commissioned as part of the Royal Navy in July of 1942. As a converted vessel rather than a purpose-built aircraft carrier, the Royal Navy decided to use the ship as an escort carrier rather than one directly involved in attacking the enemy. She was noticeably slower and smaller than her purpose-built counterparts.

At some point during her second mission, the Dasher began experiencing engine problems. It was on her way back to port for repairs that she inexplicably exploded in the Firth of Clyde, just off the coast of Ardrossan. Three-hundred-and-seventy-five of the 528 crew members perished.

Some historians believe the Dasher was a doomed vessel from the beginning. Indeed, documents released in the decades since suggest that the ship was not even up to Royal Navy standards. The ship was so poorly constructed that its diesel tanks were constantly leaking, which many now believe led to the explosion.

The Water Is Alive with History

Clyde Cruises doesn’t have any regular cruises out to the site of the Dasher explosion, but we do offer a fair number of tours that explore some of the most historic areas in and around the River Clyde. If we’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s the fact that our region’s waterways are alive with history.

Cruising along the west coast offers a veritable ‘goldmine’ of historic castles that played an integral role in what Scotland has become. Cruising the River Clyde and its many canals offer a fresh and invigorating new look into how these waterways contributed to the development of our local area. In short, there’s a lot to see on our waterways. Clyde Cruises is thrilled to be able to bring it to you.

Sources:

  1. Scotsman – http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/clyde-sinking-of-hms-dasher-continues-to-puzzle-historians-1-4354070
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