Scambling Nets In HM Ships

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
Vic Dale
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Scambling Nets In HM Ships

Postby Vic Dale » Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:04 am

In discussions about warships it is generally the case that focus will be on the guns, the engines and the structure of the ships and only occasionally on the ancillary equipment they carried, such as life-rafts, cranes, galleys and whether or not the ship had bunks or hammocks for the lower deck. One such item of equipment which tends to get over looked is the scrambling net, yet all ships carried them and the function is as old as Drake himself - if not older.

There seems to be some confusion about this very common piece of equipment and a deal of preconceived and erroneous ideas about them, so I will now attempt to put matters right. Below we have a photo of the County Class Cruiser HMS Kent. Her scrambling nets are clearly on visible, one farthest out to port is for ready use and the inboard one is secured as a spare.
Kent's Scrambling Nets.jpg
Kent's Scrambling Nets.jpg (52.92 KiB) Viewed 2236 times
To illustrate some of the confusion surrounding these mysterious pieces of equipment I quote from what a Mr Waddingham had to say in another thread;
The picture of the afterdeck of HMS Kent is printed much larger in the “Man O’ War” series book County Class cruisers, and clearly shows that the bundles on the after superstructures are composed of round baulks of timber lashed together. Each baulk is about 20cm diameter, and therefore appear to be fenders rather than scrambling nets. Many aerial photos exist in this book but none show similar bundles aboard sister ships. There is no evidence whatsoever that a high freeboard vessel like a County would deploy scrambling nets.

In the entertaining anecdote about HMS Albion and the scrambling nets , Vic forgot to mention she was a commando carrier from 1962 onwards, and needed nets to put her troops into the landing craft deployed from davits on her sides. Accidentally, Vic may have given the misleading impression that large vessels habitually deployed scrambling nets.


Firstly. the photo I used in the original post actually came from Man O' War, so I am afraid there can be no distinction. In the RN we used cats (floating steel boxes with wooden interface) or basket fenders and not baulks of timber as has been suggested. The fact is, those "baulks of timber" in the photo are booms or spreaders, spaced at regular intervals on the net's length to stop it wrapping itself up and drowning those attempting to use it. Below we can see the scrambling nets being deployed on HMAS Kanimbla, a Landing Support ship;
Kanimbla1-2.jpg
Kanimbla1-2.jpg (18.65 KiB) Viewed 2236 times
As can be seen, the nets can be deployed from ships with very high free board and I suspect that Kanimbla has the same free board as a County. Even vessels such as HMS Maidstone, the submarine depot ship shown below, with a free board twice that of a County Class Cruiser carried her own compliment of scrambling nets.
HMS_Maidstone.jpg
HMS_Maidstone.jpg (46.46 KiB) Viewed 2236 times
Misconceptions about scrambling nets extend even to the post war years, because although HMS Albion a Commando Carrier on which I served, carried scrambling nets they were never used for transferring men into the LCAs, when on active service around Borneo. The post-war Commando Carriers were fitted with electric parallel-lift winches and the Green Jackets of 42 Commando and others, would disembark from the flight deck, into an LCA stowed in the 'over-on' position above the LCA sponson and would then be winched down directly into the water below. The lesson had been learned in WWII, that getting armed troops with all their equipment into boats waiting on the choppy waters perhaps forty feet below was slow, inefficient and quite dangerous, as many men fell when negotiating their way down the cumbersome scrambling nets. I only ever saw scrambling nets used when the ship piped "Hands To bathe!" in the Mediterranean and then I learned first hand just how difficult it is to climb up one when naked and wet, let alone climb down one when weighed down with many pounds of equipment plus a rifle.

The only possible time these nets would be used for disembarking troops would be in the event of power failure in the mother ship. It may be that disembarkation was exercised this way at some time, though I never witnessed such an evolution.

MikeBrough
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Re: Scambling Nets In HM Ships

Postby MikeBrough » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:17 am

The following extract from Iain Ballantyne's HMS London suggests that London, at least, was carrying scrambling nets at the time.

http://www.iainballantyne.com/london.html

Vic Dale
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Re: Scambling Nets In HM Ships

Postby Vic Dale » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:11 pm

They even carried them in Prince of Wales. Here we can see one stowed in a Carley Raft
Prince of Wales Scrambling Nets.jpg
Prince of Wales Scrambling Nets.jpg (100.73 KiB) Viewed 2220 times
It appears that there was no standard place for stowage, but was a matter worked out between the Bosun and the Captain for ease of deployment without interfering with how the ship would be fought.

Below we can see fueling hoses stowed below the boat deck on HMS Anson. These could easily be mistaken for scrambling nets and siting of hoses or scrambling nets can be very confusing for the detailed modeller.
Fueling Hoses in HMS ANSON.jpg
Fueling Hoses in HMS ANSON.jpg (31.63 KiB) Viewed 2220 times

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wadinga
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Re: Scambling Nets In HM Ships

Postby wadinga » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:45 pm

Hi Vic,

The picture of Kanimbla quite clearly shows the need for only three spreaders in its total length, whilst there are well over a dozen baulks in each the fenders stowed on HMS Kent's superstructure. Whatever you used for fendering in Albion, in WWII they had to use what came to hand.

Equally the smaller fenders stowed in the Carley Rafts in POW are Hazel Bundles used for smaller craft coming alongside. Ensign 1 King George V class battleships has a great view looking down past the type 282 directors and showing two stowed hazel bundle fenders on the deck edge either side of the pilot ladder stanchions. Another shot shows them deployed either side of the pilot ladder, hanging vertically from a rope at one end.

I measure the County's freeboard at 26 ft, as you admit yourself quite a climb for even a recreational swimmer, let alone a hypothemic survivor. Far better to let down lines with bowlines in and rely on three or more seamen on deck to haul the survivor up. The current Admiralty Manual of Seamanship says of scramble nets http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jUdZ ... rs&f=false
"but as a general rule, the physical effort will be beyond them". Maybe 10ft is possible up the side of a "Flower's" afterdeck, but certainly 26ft to a "County's" maindeck would be quite something.

I really cannot see any scrambling nets on Maidstone's side and cannot see why they should need any with two accomodation ladders deployed. I think I can see some painters on a bit of staging, and there might be some cargo net deployed as a safety net in case somebody steps back to admire his handiwork!

I need to investigate the HMS London case :angel:

All the best
wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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aurora
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Re: Scambling Nets In HM Ships

Postby aurora » Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:42 pm

Quote wadinga
"I measure the County's freeboard at 26 ft, as you admit yourself quite a climb for even a recreational swimmer, let alone a hypothemic survivor. Far better to let down lines with bowlines in and rely on three or more seamen on deck to haul the survivor up. The current Admiralty Manual of Seamanship says of scramble nets http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jUdZ ... rs&f=false
"but as a general rule, the physical effort will be beyond them". Maybe 10ft is possible up the side of a "Flower's" afterdeck, but certainly 26ft to a "County's" maindeck would be quite something".

Here I must agree- convoys invariably had Rescue Ships or ship(s) nominated out of the Close Escort to act a rescue ships; and these would be the Armed Trawler or indeed a corvette and all these ships had scrambling nets.My father's ship HMS Anemone (K48) rescued about a hundred survivors from ships of Convoy HX 229 in March 1943.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim


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