MTB 102

Your Heritage - Afloat

Registered Charity: 1114950 Company Number: 3272289


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Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB's), were developed to be able to mount a quick response to threats from any seagoing vessel either warship or submarine.

MTB 102 was designed (under the designation Vosper Private Venture Boat) by Commander Peter Du Cane CBE, Managing Director of Vosper Ltd., in 1936. She was completed and launched in 1937, and ran trials on the Solent.

When she was bought by the Admiralty and brought into service she was called MTB 102 (the 100 prefix denoting a prototype vessel, making her the first MTB of the modern era.) She was crewed by two officers and eight men, and during 1939 and 1940 she saw active service mainly in the English Channel.

During 'Operation Dynamo', the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and Allies from Dunkirk, she crossed the channel eight times. When the Destroyer HMS Keith was disabled by a bomb from a Stuka, Rear Admiral Wake-Walker transferred to MTB 102, using her as his flagship for the last two nights of the operation directing the incoming and outgoing vessels at Dunkirk from the bridge. As she carried no Rear Admirals flag, one was created with an Admiralty dishcloth and some red paint, allowing her to fly the appropriate flag. MTB 102 was the third to last vessel to leave Dunkirk, ending her crucial and distinguished service during the evacuation under the command of Lt. Christopher Dreyer.

In 1943, she was transferred to 615 Water Transport Co. RASC, and renamed 'Vimy'.

In 1944 she carried Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower on their review of the ships assembled on the south coast for the D-Day landings, thus seeing the desperate evacuation of troops from Europe and their determined return.

At the end of the war, like most other small naval craft, she was sold off and converted to a private motor cruiser, fitted with two Perkins P.6 Diesels and used around the North Sea.

After 20 years she was resold, and during her conversion to a houseboat she was found by a Norfolk Scout Group in 1973. She was in need of a lot of attention, but had been saved from an ignominious fate.

Kelso Films agreed to refurbish 102 as a WWII MTB for their 1976 film 'The Eagle Has Landed' starring Michael Caine, after filming, she was returned as a fully operational sea going vessel. She was also used in a Dutch film 'Soldier of Orange' (also known as 'Survival Run') which starred Rutger Hauer. 102 was a participant in Her Majesty The Queen's Silver Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames, and in 1979, 1984 and 1986 she represented 'Yesterdays Navy' at Portsmouth Navy Days.

The return to Dunkirk, for the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships anniversary crossings, has been made every five years since 1985.

H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, honoured the vessel with an inspection on the launch of our 50th Anniversary Appeal.

Never far from television cameras, she has appeared in the Channel 4 series Classic Ships and ITVs Vintage and Veteran series and BBCs War Walks.


Length 68', beam 14'9", draft 3'9". Built of double diagonal Honduras Mahogany on Canadian Rock Elm, and powered by three Isotta Fraschini 57 litre petrol engines each of 1100hp. giving a speed of 48 knots light and 43 knots loaded and armed, this made her the fastest wartime British naval vessel in service.

Originally a single torpedo was fired through the stem, through a hatch in the bow. A second torpedo was loaded from rails on the after deck, the location of the torpedo tube is evident from the long bulge on the fore deck. It was discovered during trials that better accuracy and reliability could be achieved with two side tubes, and the original torpedo arrangement was changed to two 21" tubes. These were angled out at 10° from the centreline, with the side decks being scalloped. She was also involved in the trials for depth-charges, machine guns and the Swiss made Oerlikon 20mm cannon.

The original engines were replaced with two perkins P6 diesels while in private ownership. The Italian engines became difficult to maintain because of the lack of spares resulting from Italys' alliance with Germany during the war and most MTBs were powered by Packard engines made in America.

Maintenance and upkeep is largely carried out on a voluntary basis, but in 1983 it became necessary for major work to be carried out on the hull and decks, and £20,000 was spent to ensure that 102 remained a sound and seaworthy boat. It then became apparent that the old engines were going to be the next problem, but in 1985 Perkins Engines Ltd. came to the rescue with the generous provision of two turbo-charged V8 engines.

However, maintenance upkeep and preservation of this unique vessel remains expensive, and in 1990 after rough weather during the return to Dunkirk, further extensive work was carried out to reinforce the hull and decks, at a cost of £50,000. In 1995, enroute to the V.J. Day celebrations, the port engine seized and the journey had to be abondoned. The filming for Chanel 4s' 'Classic Ships' was conducted on just one engine, and then in 1996 Cummins Marine supplied new 'Diamond Series' diesel engines to, appropriately enough, take 102 into her Diamond Anniversary year. In 2002 two specially tuned high output Cummins L10 600h.p. engines have been fitted.

She is one of only a few WWII Royal Navy vessels still afloat, and is thought to be the only Royal Navy vessel that took part in the Dunkirk evacuation which has survived.

The MTB 102 Trust has now been set up to obtain major sponsorship and finance to keep this unique vessel operating for as long as possible, and your support is vital for this to succeed.


Every year 102 undergoes her winter refit in Suffolk to get her ready for her appearances during the coming year. Between January and April she is normally to be found inside her large heated workshop at Oulton Broad having her annual check up. This is an ideal opportunuity for visitors to see her out of the water without the crowds normally found at her public appearances.

We are always happy to welcome interested visitors but, please, telephone first to check availability.

Please see below to find our location.


Telephone: +44 (0) 7921 389158

Provisional Events List 2020 (More to be added)

All events subject to weather and sea conditions.

21st to 25th May
ADLS Dunkirk Return
15th to 16th August
Southampton, Mayflower 400 Celebrations



Association of Dunkirk Little Ships

.Coastal Forces Heritage Trust.

British Military Powerboat Trust

Coastal Forces Veterans

Medway Queen Preservation Society

The Steam Tug "Challenge"

Copyright © MTB102 Trust 2004.
Sept 2016: See 102 at sea with HMS Trumpeter and HMS Explorer
Sept 2014: See a video shot during 102's visit to the Thames Festival
June 2012: MTB102 starts the Queen's Jubilee Pageant
MTB102 was the first vessel to move in the Pageant and as she got under way
the radio message from Mark Towens, PLA Deputy Harbour Master and Senior PLA Officer afloat, was
"MTB102 is under way. The pageant has started".

Thus began the sixth time that MTB102 had taken part in an event with the Monarch.

It was a very proud moment for the MTB102 Trust as we led the Dunkirk Little Ships' Flotilla down the Thames.
The event was covered by many TV broadcasters. If you want to see some of the coverage,
- Click HERE for footage from Anglia TV (ITN)
- Click HERE for footage from BBC Look East.

Most recent edit: Wednesday January 15th 2020.