of the Operation. In July the second wave of the build-up force arrived in S.S.
Charlton Star, the third wave arriving later in H.T. Cheshire.
Up to November over 20,000 tons of cargo, including some 600 vehicles and cranes, tractors, graders, cement mixers, bulldozers and so on, were transported to the area. The T.E.S. Ben
Wyvis, built to Government specifications during the war for the carriage of particularly heavy and awkward cargoes, has been invaluable for this task. She and her sister ships are the only ships of this type in the world and carry derricks capable of lifting 120 tons. For "Grapple" she has carried Landing Craft, Pontoons, Lighters and a Dredger besides much of the heavy military equipment mentioned just above. Two other ships belonging to the Ben Line Steamers Ltd. have also been used: the S.S.
Ben Rinnes and the S.S. Ben Nevis. These are very similar to the "Liberty" ships of the last war. They were in fact built in America during the war to a British design. Besides these, the S.S.
Pinehill and S.S. Beech Hill have been chartered as cargo ships.
To maintain the Force on the island ships capable of supplying fresh provisions and fuel oil had to be brought into action. For this it was not necessary to charter special ships since the Admiralty already possessed ships for the job, known as Royal Fleet Auxiliaries. The
R.F.A.'s Fort Constantine, Fort Beauharnois and Fort
Rosalie, built in Canada in 1944-45, were acquired, amongst other vessels of the same class, for use as Issuing Ships for the Fleet Train of the British Pacific Fleet and their role in "Grapple" is the same.
Fort Constantine and Fort Beauharnois are equipped with large refrigerated spaces and so can supply plenty of fresh provisions, while
Fort Rosalie is equipped for carrying ammunition. Their deck and any spare hold space can also be used for carrying other items of stores-you can be sure that every available square inch has been used!
All these Fort Class vessels are named after a string of forts between Canada and New Orleans erected by the French in the eighteenth century to contain the British settlers on the West Atlantic sea-board.
Of the tankers, the R.F.A.'s Wave Prince, Wave Ruler and
Wave Victor can carry 9,000 tons of oil. They were built in Britain just too late for use in the war, but the
Wave Prince was engaged for a long period in the Korean operations. Although when they were built they were considered quite large ships, they have been dwarfed in recent years by the new tankers, but nevertheless they are capable of fuelling three warships at sea at the same time: one on each beam and one astern. They have been used to carry bulk aircraft fuel as well as fuel for the other ships taking part, and of course they will continue in this role throughout the Operation. A fourth, smaller tanker, the
R.F.A. Gold Ranger, is also out there. She is a motor vessel, built in 1940-41 and able to carry 3,500 tons of fuel. She finished the war in the van of the East Indies Fleet and was present at the reoccupation of Akyab, Rangoon, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies.In the last-named area she found and towed back to Singapore the
R.F.A. Ebonol, which was originally lost in Hong Kong in 1941 and which had been salvaged and put into service by the Japanese. Since the end of the war she has spent most of her time in the Far East and, like the
Wave Prince, took part in the Korean War.