HMS Northway

Posted: 17 March, 2010 by Fairlane in non-ugly, ugly
Tags: , , , , ,


HMS Northway

IMO: ???

Build: 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding – Newport News, Virginia in the USA, nr 403 as HMS Cutlass

While neither of the above pictures above are actually this vessel, they are her identical sisters, first the USS Cabildo, and second, the HMS Eastway. You may ask, why am I posting a ship that no good pictures exist of?

Well, for one, she was ugly. As her sisters show, the entire Casa Grande Class of dock landing ships was particularly comely.

But, the actual reason for this posting is because of what she became. After surviving World War II, including participation in the D-Day landings, she was sold into commercial service, and “converted” into the ferry City of Havana.

From Derrick Entwistle via

By conversion, I mean she had her weapons removed, and a new paint job put on, but still retained quite the degree of unattractiveness.

The Communist takeover of Cuba put an end to her service between Key West and Havana, and she was sold to the German Government, and served for several years as a barracks ship, while maintaining her previous livery.

From Gerhard Mueller-Debus via

The next phase of her life is where something remarkable happens. She may be one of the few vessels I’ve found that has actually gone from ugly to not-so-bad. After sitting for a few years, she was sold to the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, converted into a Ro/Ro vessel, and renamed Celtic Ferry.

While not exactly the most beautiful ship on the face of the Earth, she certainly looked much more presentable, an appearance she kept until scrapped in approximately 1973.

As an interesting side note, her sister the HMS Eastway, was originally laid down as HMS Battleaxe, a nifty little coincidence in regards to the origins of this website.

Update September 2021:

Via mr Stewart A. we received an actual picture of the vessel as “Northway”:

Picture received via Stewart A., origins unknown

Thanks Stewart!

More info about & pics from this vessel can be found here:

  1. says:

    Hi there. I have seen this post whilst researching some items my father has left. I have a sign which reads “landing ship dock, HMS Northway Hull no. 403….” it goes on and ends “1944”. I was wondering why he had this wooden sign and now it makes sense. I think he worked on the Celtic as an engineer for ASNC prior to it being scrapped.

  2. Peter Elliott says:

    My dad served on the Northway in WW2 taking the landing craft to Juno beach on D-Day.

  3. Stephen Plant says:

    Hi, My late father, Ben Plant often spoke of your father in very glowing terms. he also had buddies called Jimmy Turner and Johnnie Wilde. Difficult to get much out of my father about the war, but D Day he spoke of and the many trips they made in total. He also spoke of a Petty Officer by the name of Pugh, who used to be a bit of a handful and was busted down the ranks a few times. Dad went on to Singapore and was on the Hoffham while he was there. Dad was on Radio, Radar and Asdects as were most of his mates. He spoke of the commanding officers being engineers first and Navy men second and how they used to keep the engines in top fettle. Dad also spoke of his duties, briefly, as a cox on one of the MGB’s they had and how prior to D day to give the false impression how they used to sneak into the ports around Calais, do a few circuits with all eight guns blazing before making a rapid exit. Please feel free to be in touch, I only wish I had found this web site earlier before dad died, 2004.

  4. Usrula Smith (nee Turner) says:

    My father was Jimmy Turner and often spoke of your father and Johnnie Wilde and his time on H.M.S. Northway. He never spoke much about D. Day as my sister and I were only little girls but I do remember him saying that you couldn’t see the sea for ships nor the sky for planes. I was really interested to find the website about his ship.

  5. Clive Lambert says:

    My father was on HMS Northway and was the only kiwi on board. He never spoke about the war but he did talk about D Day. He served as a signal man Max Lambert was his name.

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