Thiarian Auxiliaries – Part 1
This summary includes all ship-sized auxiliaries of the Thiarian Navy and Coast Guard. Not included are hundreds of auxiliary boats operated by both services (traffic boats, lighters, barges, harbour tugs, buoy and lighthouse tenders, harbour patrol craft, floating dredgers, small sail training ships, picket boats, torpedo catchers and the like); these were often locally purchased or refitted from civilian vessels from a multitude of sources. Their variants go into the hundreds and quite exceed both the scope of this thread and my patience to draw them all.
1. Training ships
Like most navies in that era, the Thiarians did not have any purpose-built training vessels in 1918, relying on retired warships for training duties. In Thiaria’s case, some very old specimens remained in service for a long time, because many of the newest vessels had to be ceded to the victors of the Great War. By the mid-1920s however, funds for two ‘Cadet Training Sloops’ which were in fact small cruisers, were made available. Besides the specialized training ships described below, many other warships were at some point employed for training; this use is specified under the appropriate sections.
1.1. LT Neamhspleachas
The premier gunnery training ship of the Thiarian fleet in the 1930s and 1940s was the retired pre-dreadnought battleship LT Neamhspleachas (Independence) of 1908 and 1916-18 war fame. After retiring from active service in the mid-1920s, she was refitted for training service in 1928-29. She landed her main belt, replacing it with a thinner 165mm strake, and the 165mm gun turrets. The fore and aft ones were replaced with new 140/55 twins, the center ones with two twin 100mm AA guns on either side. Eight 37mm/50 guns in four open twin mounts made up the close range AA armanent. All fire control systems currently in use with the Thiarian fleet were installed. The aft funnel was removed and new boilers for 12.000 hp were installed; the totally refurbished engines now were good for 15 knots.
In 1936, the cranes were replaced with larger ones and facilities to operate two floatplanes were embarked. Space restrictions however ruled out the installation of catapults.
During the war, radar and sixteen 20mm guns were added; LT Neamhspleachas continued to train gunners, spotters and radar operators throughout the war.
In 1945, Neamhspleachas was decommissioned, disarmed and hulked, but her hull was still sound, and she served as ammunition and explosives depot. For this role, she was moored outside the naval base at Nuatearman; all ships that went to dock there in the postwar years came alongside of Neamhspleachas first and disembarked their ammunition.
She fell into disuse during the mid-1960s and slowly rotted away, but her hull held, and she petulantly remained afloat. In 1980 a private club was formed with the purpose of purchasing her, restoring her to her 1908 condition and turning her into a museum. The Navy realized the value such a monument would have for the service’s image and recruitment effort and donated the hull for free. An early form of crowdfunding provided much of the money required for her restoration, and the government lavishly subsidized the project. Between 1982 and 1988, the hull was carefully refurbished to her 1908 state, and every system was replicated to original plans. LT Neamhspleachas was opened as a museum in 1990 in Carriolar and has since become one of the main attractions of the Thiarian capital; in 2007, she had her lower hull painted in the Navy’s new dark blue protective colour to combat corrosion.
She remains there to this day and can be visited for Chros 22,-- per adult (60,-- per family of 4). Together with the Japanese Mikasa and the Greek Georgios Averof, she is one of only three surviving pre-dreadnought age capital ships worldwide.
1.2. LT Muirbhreid
Officially classed as an engineering training ship, the former armoured cruiser LT Muirbhreid (Dreadnought) was employed as a cruiser till 1931 with very few modifications; then she was taken in hand and virtually gutted in 1931-3. The refit saw her reboilered with boilers of four different types. Only the center shaft retained her old VTE engines, while the wing shafts received turbines, again of two different types. Design speed remained 22 knots. Of her original armament, only the four 195/45 guns remained; she however received six single 130mm destroyer guns, four 75mm DP guns and fourt 37mm AA guns with the associated fire control systems and could act as a TV for destroyer gun crews as well. Remarkably, her superstructure was little changed.
In this shape, she served till 1945 with very few modifications; 1943 saw the installation of radar and eight 20mm guns.
Muirbhreid was abandoned during the civil war in a small port on Thiaria’s east coast; she remained there for three years, ignored and rotting, and became leaky. In 1948, she capsized during a storm. She was broken up where she lay, bit for little bit, till 1954.
By the mid-1920s, Thiaria’s cruiser force was a motley collection of obsolete vessels which had seen hard war use. Two protected cruisers of 1902 vintage were used as cadet training ships, but they were in poor shape and had notoriously uncomfortable habitability. Replacing them with purpose-built cadet training ships was not considered using up any of the tight cruiser tonnage allotted to Thiaria by the Treaty of Norfolk, so CSCA was ordered to design hulls which were not cruisers, but could be turned into such at short notice. Like the later Japanese Katori-class, which they certainly inspired (and physically resembled, being the first Thiarian warships since the early 1910s without a forward tripod mast), they were fitted with a COSAD type propulsion; the diesels were installed in a way that allowed rapid replacement if more advanced ones became available, an option that was exercised several times during the life of these ships. 250 cadets could be embarked. Both were unarmoured except for splinter protection to the main gun turrets. Officially, they were rated at 3.000 ts and 18 kts speed, with four 140mm LA guns, four 100mm AA guns, four 37mm AA guns and six 559mm torpedo tubes. In fact, they displaced 4.200 tons and were capable of 24 knots; they had the specified armament, but were fitted for another two 140mm guns and a catapult, which were to be installed as soon as the political climate allowed.
They were laid down in 1926 and 1927 at the CSCA yard and both commissioned in 1929. They were named for Thiaria’s national saints, Naomh Siobhan (St.Joan of Ark) and Naomh Padraig (St.Patrick). Between 1930 and 1933, Naomh Siobhan was painted in a pre-1908 black-green-buff livery to commemorate the Centennial of Thiaria’s formal independence from France in 1930.
After a decade of valuable service which produced many of the brilliant junior officers which fought with distinction against often overwhelming odds in the Second World War, both still mounted their original armament in 1940 because upgunning them would have required to curtail the construction of ‘real’ cruisers. They however did receive the planned aviation equipment, HF/DF, depth-charges (in racks aft and for one K-gun on each side), hydrophones and ASDIC for ASW training; they were also fitted with four quad 13mm AAMGs.
In the initial phase of the war, both were pressed in active service after the fleet had taken heavy losses; they were used as convoy escort flagships. During a desperate sortie of Patagonian destroyers shortly before Patagonia’s collapse in 1941, Naomh Padraig was thrice torpedoed and lost with heavy casualties. Naomh Siobhan had been damaged by Patagonian cruiser and destroyer gunfire in the same week, but survived; during repairs, she was fitted with radar and comprehensively rearmed, although to a different pattern than originally planned: Her whole main armament was landed, and eight 130mm DP guns were fitted. Eight single fully automatic 37mm/70 guns and six twin 20mm cannon made up the light AA fit. The torpedo tubes, ASW gear and the aircraft were retained, turning her into a fully capable escort cruiser. Nevertheless, the military situation was sufficiently stabilized when she re-emerged in February 1942 that she reverted to training duty.
The last wartime cadet class graduated late in 1943; afterwards, Naomh Siobhan was again sent to the front as a convoy escort. She was lost in action in May 1944 during a British airstrike after shooting down 11 enemy planes.
2. Netlayers and Net Tenders
When the Thiarians started to build up their shipbuilding capacity in the mid-1920s, they also ordered four specialized netlayers to quickly fortify ports or temporary bases. They used the same hulls as the Spiorad-Naomh-class survey ships and the Tir-Parthas-class minelayers and were named for Bays: Bauaine, Ba Galbruith, Ceas Croi and Urlar Adhmaid. All were built by CTS. Their armament consisted of a single 75mm gun aft and four 8mm AAMGs, and they were diesel-powered for a speed of 16 knots.
During the war, they received a single 37/70 forward (1942/3) and four twin 20mm autocannon (1941/2). The last four were already completed to this standard.
Bauaine was lost on an air-dropped mine in Montevideo 1943 and Ba Galbruith by a Brazilian airstrike at the same place, only a few months later. The other two were sold to private buyers in 1948.
These small net tenders were built under the 1936, 1938 and 1940 programmes (4 each) by small private yards (CDO, Meara, Loingshigh&Rian and Payeur). They had twin-screw trawler hulls for maximum maneuverability and were unarmed except for four 13mm AAMGs. Like the larger Netlayers, they were named for Bays: Bagorm, Ba na Saifire, Ba na Bleith, Ba Lonrach, Ba na Radharc, Baghainimh, Bafuar, Baceilte, Ba na Mhuice, Ba Dhraiochta, Bamiofar and Baciuin. Although they could lay nets if required, their purpose was mainly servicing existing boom and net defences around major bases.
Ba na Bleith, Bafuar and Ba Dhraiochta were lost in action, and Bagorm and Ba na Saifire were scuttled in Montevideo in 1944. The remainder was kept in service in supporting roles and not phased out before the mid-/late 1960s.
3. Aviation support ships
In the early 1930s, the Thiarian naval ministry tried to economize auxiliary production by ordering several hull designs which were carefully crafted to fill several different requirements. The largest of these, dubbed the ‘Large Standard Hull’ yielded not only the Priomhaire-class amphibious assault ships, but also the Maighdean-class aviation support ships. These vessels displaced nearly 15.000 tons and were good for 24 knots. They had four catapults and two obliquely arranged cranes aft. There were two hangars on two deck levels: One aft in the hull, and one in the main superstructure. They could serve all types of Thiarian floatplanes up to and including large twin-engined patrol flying boats; their normal complement of twelve scout fighters and 24 recon floatplanes was frequently varied. Armament consisted of eight 100mm AA guns in four twin mounts (two superfiring forward, two abreast the superstructure) and twelve semi-automatic 37mm cannon (three twin mounts abreast forward and aft); although these ships could have accommodated the quad automatic 37/70, these guns were reserved for ‘true’ warships and not installed. Their task was to provide recon cover, spotting and some basic air defense and ASW screening to the battlefleet without counting against Thiaria’s tonnage allowance of true aircraft carriers. They also carried extensive repair facilities for airplanes and a huge aviation fuel supply, enabling them to act as service units for carrier battlegroups as well. Two hulls were built by CSCA: LT Maighdean (the constellation Virgin) was laid down in 1936 and completed in 1939 and LT Saighdeoir (Sagittarius) was laid down in 1937 and also completed late in 1939.
Both were assigned Thiaria’s main battlefleet of four battleships in 1940; Saighdeoir was very severely damaged in February 1940 by British carrier planes and nearly sank. She was taken in hand for reconstruction to an escort carrier and re-emerged as such late in 1942; her general design provided the basis for the successful Feinics-class light fleet aircraft carriers. Maighdean was slated for a similar refit, but she was needed to provide recon and spotting for the battlefleet throughout 1941 and 1942 and could not be spared before mid-1943. Before any work could be done, she was however sunk by an aerial torpedo by a British Albacore and gunfire from the heavy cruisers HMS Lancaster and Fife. By that time, she had received twenty-eight 20mm cannon and a complete – if rather clumsily arranged – radar suite.
These four small seaplane tenders were half-sisters of the Uibhreasail-class minelayers; like these, they considerably exceeded their design speed of 20 knots (24 with dirty hulls was usually attained). They had half the armament of the minelayers (a twin 100mm AA mount and three twin 37mm cannon) and could accommodate four floatplanes (later three larger ones). Their designed task was establishing floatplane bases on suitable islands; unlike their larger sisters they were not meant to accompany fleets. Like all Thiarian aviation ships, they received names more or less closely associated with the realm of Astronomy: Gealain (Aurora), Realtra (Galaxy), Dreige (Meteor) and Tuarceatha (Rainbow). Two each were laid down in 1934 and 1935 by the CTS yard and completed in 1936 and 1937, respectively.
Their intended role was already obsolete when the war started; all four were pressed into convoy escort service from day one of the war, providing some basic air cover in the absence of escort carriers. Gealain and Dreige were early war losses, sank by Patagonian aircraft and a Patagonian submarine, respectively, before 1940 was half over. The other two soldiered on in the convoy escort role, but were not considered important enough for modernization. When the first Thiarian escort carriers became available late in 1942, both vessels were used as training ships for floatplane pilots and ASW personnel. In this role, both survived the war. Realtra was scrapped and cannibalized in 1953, but Tuarceartha remained in service as an electronics trials vessel till 1976 and was finally scrapped in 1979.
4.1. Fast fleet replenishment ships
In the 1930s, Germany pioneered the new type of fast fleet replenishment ship with the Dithmarschen-class. In order to quickly gain experience with the new type, the Thiarians ordered two very similar units at the AG Weser yard in 1936. They were named Solathrai (Provider) and Tarrthalai (Rescuer) and delivered to Thiaria early in 1939. They were unusually fast at 23 knots and very ruggedly built; armament was four twin 100mm AA and two twin 37mm/50 AA. They not only carried fuel (about half as much as a proper tanker of their size) but also ammunition, refrigerated food, freshwater and other stores, and they were fitted for underway replenishment. Two additional units of the class were license-built by Thiaria’s CDO yard in 1938 and delivered in 1940, named Taobhai (Supporter) and Cosantoir (Protector).
These vessels were assigned to Thiaria’s main carrier strike force, resulting in Tarrthalai’s early loss to a British airstrike in March 1940. Two of the others took part in the Panama raid of 1942; at that time, Taobhai was already in yard hands for conversion to the escort carrier Coimead, from which she emerged early in 1943. The other two received a complete radar suite, eight single 37/70 autocannon and four twin 20mm AA in 1943/4.
They remained active with the carrier strike force, but Cosantoir was lost to a Recherchean submarine torpedo early in 1944. Solathrai was ceded to Brazil after the war and remained in service there till the mid-1970s.
While the first two Solathrais were building, the Riordan yard, Thiaria’s leading builder of commercial vessels, evaluated the design and decided they could do better. They designed a 23.000-ton hull which was longer and wider than the Dithmarschen; it was more seaworthy due to higher freeboard and could travel at 22 knots, and it was of simpler construction and could be built more quickly. The first two were laid down in 1938, although one of them was converted to amphibious assault ship on stocks. A replacement was laid down in 1939, and two repeat hulls each in 1940, 1941 and 1942. In the aforementioned sequence, they were named Coimeadai (Watcher), Riarthoir (Administrator), Curadh (Champion), Caomhnoir (Safeguard), Maor (Steward), Coimirceoir (Guardian), Comhaireloir (Councellor) and Gobharnoir (Governor). The ships had very warship-like lines and bore no resemblance to the Solathrais externally. Armament was eight 100mm and twelve 37mm, plus six quad 13mm AAMGs. Coimeadai was completed in 1940, Riarthoir in 1941, Caomhnoir in 1942, Curadh in 1943, and Coimirceoir in 1944. Maor, Comhairleoir and Gobharnoir were converted to escort carriers on stocks and renamed; one each was completed in 1943 and 1944 (named Ghrianghaoth and Chaor Deisceart), and Eiclips (the former Gobharnoir) was still incomplete when the war was over. The first two units which were completed as AEs already had HF/DF upon completion, but no further electronics.
Coimeadai, Riarthoir and Caomhnoir took part in the Panama Raid in 1942; wherever a Thiarian fast fleet carrier or fast battleship went during the war, there usually was one Solathrai- or Coimeadai-class ship attached. Caomhnoir was lost in a Free French air strike during the battle of Meanchiorcal in 1943 and Curadh was sabotaged and blown up by British commandoes in Montevideo in July 1944. By that time, all extant units had swapped their 37/50 with new 37/70 autocannon in two quad turrets, added twelve twin 20mm cannon and received a high-end radar suite of the newest make, which amply reflects the importance of these ships for the Thiarian navy.
The three survivors were all ceded to the USA (1) and Great Britain (2, one of which went to Recherche). They were evaluated against the two surviving German Dithmarschens and found about equal; they were better sea boats, but slower and carried not significantly more stores despite their larger size. The Recherchean ship (Coimeadai) was transferred to the RIN in 1950, where it served till 1968; the other two were scrapped in the mid-1950s.
4.2. Transport oilers
Three survivors of the Great War vintage Clian-Class – Clian, Gailim and Abha Mor, all named for rivers – remained active with the Thiarian navy in 1940. They were officially rated as replenishment oilers, but had no underway replenishment capability and carried no dry stores. As completed in 1918, their armament consisted of four 100mm LA guns and no AA at all.
All three were assigned to the main battlefleet in 1940 despite being only good for 16 knots. Gailim was sunk by a Patagonian submarine early in 1941. The other two were rearmed with two single 100mm DP guns and eight 20mm AA cannon in 1941/2; neither of these old ships was considered important enough to be fitted with radar.
They served as supply tankers for the expeditionary forces in South America from 1942. Both were sunk on the same day in May 1944 by British carrier airplanes.
In the late 1920s, the Thiarians discarded their last fleet colliers, as most old coal-burners had either been scrapped or converted to oil by that time. Five new replenishment oilers were ordered in 1927 from Riordan steel and were laid down in 1928 (1), 1929 (2) and 1930 (2); a sixth unit (laid down in 1928) was sold to Argentina in 1929. As usual for Thiarian oilers, they were named for rivers: Eithne, Eoghancha, Mhaigh, Mulcai and Feabhal. They were built at a leisurely pace and delivered between 1930 (Eithne) and 1933 (Mulcai). Armament was two twin 100mm/45 AA and four twin 37/50 AA. They could make 20 and sustain 16 knots with a single-shaft turbine plant, enabling them to travel with the main battlefleet, to which they were assigned; they could transfer oil underway, but carried no dry stores.
Mhaigh and Feabhal were early war losses; neither survived the initial onslaught of the Royal Navy before it had to retreat to deal with the Norwegian campaign. The other three remained with the Thiarian battlefleet throughout the war. By 1943, they had received radar and eight twin 20mm cannon.
Eoghancha was torpedoed by a Brazilian submarine in 1944. The other two were quite worn out after the war and were scrapped in 1949/50.
One of the first projects of the war emergency building programme was the adoption of a simple, robust and quickly built standard tanker hull. Riordan steel adapted a civilian pre-war design to military requirements, adding replenishment-at-sea facilities and an armament of six single 100/45 AA guns, four twin 37/50 AA guns and six twin 20mm autocannon. The ships had single-shaft diesel plants for a top speed of 16 knots, 15 knots being sustainable. Two pre-war hulls were confiscated in 1940 and refitted till 1941; in that year, four new hulls were laid down. Five more followed in 1942 and 1943 each, and eight in 1944. None of the 1944 ships were completed, but all of the others; building time averaged eight months. Like all large Thiarian tankers, they were named for rivers: Nenui, Liathui, Siorrad, Fuarsruth, Sirannui, Morbhui, Foire, Mearui, Goai, Meartabar, Ruathar, Deifir, Meirgruid, Teabhainn, Fuarai and Cliud. The 1944 hulls had not yet been assigned names. All were built by Riordan; Nenui and Liathui were originally laid down in 1938 and completed in 1939 for civilian owners.
The 1942 and 1943 units (from Sirannui) were equipped with six single 37mm/70 autocannon instead the old 37mm/50s and had submarine type radar sets. None of the older vessels was refitted to this standard.
War losses were considerable. Fuarsruth, Mearui and Deifir were sunk by enemy aircraft, Liathui, Morbhui, Ruathar and Meartabar by submarines. After the war, Nenui, Siorrad, Meirgruid, Foire and Goai were demilitarized and sold to civilian buyers; they had long active lives afterward, and Goai as the last one was scrapped in 2002 in Angola.
Sirannui, Teabhainn, Fuarai and Cliud remained with the Thiarian navy and were refitted to fleet replenishment ships in 1955/58. Armament was changed to eight individually radar-controlled 37/70 autocannon, fuel capacity was reduced in favour of dry stores and refrigerated cargo, new cranes and improved underway replenishment gear was installed and the radar suite was brought up to date. They were re-engined and could now make 20 knots; their hulls were also strengthened.
They remained Thiaria’s prime replenishment vessels unitil the 1970s; they were retired and scrapped between 1977 and 1982.
4.2.4. Captured ships
During the initial phase of the war, Thiarian raiders captured a total of ten enemy oilers intact in the South Atlantic and sent them back to Thiaria. Seven of them were taken over by the Ministry of Transport (re-named for rivers if they were British, otherwise retaining their original names) and staffed with Naval Militia crews for use as supply ships; the other three were deemed too decrepit and scrapped. A typical example for a prize oiler is the former Dutch MV Surena, captured in June 1940 and re-commissioned in December after having been fitted with four old 65mm AA guns and twelve 13mm AAMGs for self-defence. Such ships received neither radar nor any kind of fire control.
All three survivors – Surena among them – were returned to their previous owners in 1945.
4.3. Petrol and water carriers
By 1939, four water carriers were available, which were named for lakes: Loch Chopair, Loch Leinn, Loch Uragh and Loch Choille. They were built in 1924 through 1926 and armed with two 75mm DP guns. Eight 20mm cannon were added during the war.
None of them ever ventured far off the coast of the Thiarian home islands. All four emerged undamaged after the war and continued to serve as water carriers till the early 1960s. The last one was scrapped in 1967.
Another product of the war emergency building programme was a class of compact tankers designed to carry petrol for airplanes and tanks to Thiarian ground and air forces fighting abroad; they also could be used to carry freshwater. They had twin-shaft diesel engines for 18 knots speed and good maneuverability and carried two 100mm/45 DP guns, six 37mm/70 AA autocannon and eight 20mm autocannon to look after themselves in the face of enemy air attack. They were also considered important enough to be fitted with a complete radar suite. Three were laid down in 1941, four in 1942, five in 1943 and six in 1944. All but the 1944 units were completed by mid-1944; interestingly, they took longer to build than the larger Nenui-class oilers (average ten months), mostly due to the employment of small yards with limited workforce (CDO (4), Loingshigh&Riain (5) and Meara (3)). They were named for lakes (completed units only): Loch Eadhna, Loch Dairbhreach, Loch Chrathai, Loch Uachtair, Loch Luioch, Loch Chlochain, Loch Iascai, Loch Fioch, Loch Coiteain, Loch Gamhna, Loch na hUamha and Loch Dulocha.
Loch Dairbhreach, Loch Uachtair, Loch Fioch, Loch Gamhna and Loch Dulocha were lost to various reasons. Loch Luioch, Loch Iascai and Loch na hUamha were sold to civilian buyers after the war. Loch Eadhna, Loch Chrathai, Loch Chlochain and Loch Coiteain were retained by the Thiarian navy after the war and served until well into the 1970s. They were all scrapped by 1982.
4.3.3. Loch Liadh-Class
The wartime building programme included 36 ‘self-propelled liquid stores barges’ for harbour service to complement the ragtag fleet of 20 pre-war ships of this type (most of them of the riverine type). They were also named for lakes: Loch Liadh, Loch Bharmui, Loch Easaird, Loch Arbhach, Loch Toraic, Loch Chuirc, Loch Ban, Loch Claon, Loch Bhealtra, Loch Buinne, Loch Ceathruin, Loch Oileain, Loch Conbhui, Loch Sailean, Loch Dhoire, Loch Rois, Loch Dhrom Mor, Loch Droim, Loch Meilbhe, Loch Leith, Loch Luiche, Loch Eigis, Loch Ainnin, Loch Foirneise, Loch Ardguth, Loch Gleann Eada, Loch Inagh, Loch Charraigin, Loch Ghlais, Loch Cinneille, Loch Tochair, Loch Marbh, Loch Torc, Loch Fuaiche, Loch Riach and Loch Ghleannbhatha. The first six were laid down in 1942, then twelve in 1943 and 18 in 1944; the last six were never completed, and the six before them only after the armistice.
Seven were lost (two to mines, one to a submarine, one to an airstrike, three to accidents) and one was abandoned on the Parana in 1944. All survivors were sold to civilian owners after the war, and some still soldier on along the African coast.
To continue with Part 2