We Bought a World War II Ship on EBayBreaking News
tags: historic preservation, military history, antiques, World War 2
Scrolling through eBay looking at listings for broken-down boats is something of a ritual for Simon Robins, who spends much of his spare time rescuing and renovating crumbling vessels.
But his wife and business partner Gemma thought he might be taking his passion a little too far when he suggested they purchase a former World War II ship that popped up on the auction site in January.
Once she saw how excited Simon was about rescuing the 72-foot motor vessel built for the UK’s Royal Navy in 1943 and realized it was stationed relatively near to their home in Wrexham, Wales, Gemma agreed to go and view it.
A few days later, the couple paid £6,500 (about $9,140) for the ship, known as L1392 while it was used for harbor defense, in order to save it from being scrapped.
“I didn’t really want a ship,” Gemma tells CNN Travel. “But when I researched her [the ship’s] history, I realized that she’s a really significant boat and there’s not many of them left in the world.
“It was just so heartbreaking to see her so neglected and abandoned. It pulled on my heartstrings.”
While over 400 of the Harbour Defence Launch (HDML) were constructed 80 or so years ago, very few are still around today.
During World War II, as part of the ML Flotilla, the ship served as a navigation leader in Operation Neptune, the pivotal seaborne invasion of northern France known as D-Day.
It was repurposed as a fast dispatch boat after the war, before being transferred to the UK’s customs agency. By the 1970s, L1392 had been transformed into a charter vessel and renamed Sarinda.
After going through several reinventions, including being converted to a luxury motor yacht, it was decommissioned in 2013.
Gemma and Simon, who run a business building camper vans together, knew that fixing up the 80-year-old vessel, which weighs 59-tons, would cost them thousands and require a great deal of time.
Follow the Robins’ story on their YouTube channel Ship Happens.
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