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From War To Peace

The Conversion of Naval Vessels after Two World Wars, from Seaforth Publishing

Title: From War to Peace
Author: Nick Robins
Publisher: Seaforth
ISBN: 978-1-3990-0958-4

The Conversion of Naval Vessels after Two World Wars. The sub-title tells you exactly what you'll find in this really interesting new book from Seaforth Publishing. A 176-page hardback, though it is also available in e-book formats as well if you prefer that. Purely a personal opinion, but I prefer a physical book that I can pick off the shelf whenever I need to refer to it, I just can't get used to the e-book thing but that's simply my preference.
The book is divided across 15 chapters, the first of which sets out the various pros and cons of converting warships into peacetime use, under the broad heading of Beating Swords into Ploughshares. There weren't conversions of major warships, most are destroyers, Corvettes, Frigates, landing ships/craft, patrol craft and small tugs, minesweepers and so on. There is a chapter featuring some early examples from the 19th Century, but then 2 chapters on conversions after the Great War, plus another considering some conversions of surrendered German naval vessels. That leaves the remaining 9 chapters to consider the various types and conversions done after the end of WW2. Among the various convoy escorts that were suitable for conversion are some of the smaller Escort Carriers, a number of which had been freighters that were converted to create the escort carriers during the war, and once hostilities were over, a number went back to their original roles. Landing craft also feature as they made ideal candidates for use as RO-RO ferries, while the smaller Tank Landing Craft also made excellent conversions for ferries across estuaries or between islands and the mainland. Among the many different types of conversions were pleasure boats that operated from a number of British coastal resorts after the war. I wonder how many of their passengers at that time realised the history of the boats they were sailing on. Smaller boats such tugs and trawlers were easy enough to be taken on by commercial interests for their intended roles, but others even made it to be turned into luxury private yachts, such as HMCA Stormont which was converted in the mid-1950s for Aristotle Onassis.
Well illustrated with archive photos throughout, with not only some showing ships in their wartime form, but so many in their converted format of civilian service, and despite new superstructures, still clearly displaying their warship hulls. With the volume of surplus vessels after WW2 it is little wonder that they offered a cheaper alternative to building a new vessel from scratch and no doubt encouraged some commercial businesses to actually start up after the war. Fascinating reading and the photos add so much to show what happened to the many small ships that had seen so much suddenly found themselves out of a job as the war ended.
Thanks to Seaforth Publishing for our review copy.


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