On Friday 5th December 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the Museo Storico Navale (historical naval museum) of Venice, which is owned by the Italian Navy. Since 1958 the museum is housed in a building dating from the 15th Century which was once the Granary of the “Serenissima” (The Most Serene Republic of Venice), on the water front in Campo San Biagio, near the Arsenal. It was the Austrians who, in 1815, first had the idea of assembling the remnants of the Venetian navy and creating a historical naval museum.
By 1942 the western Mediterranean had become an extremely dangerous place for even the most powerful British warships. For the small, wooden, lightly armed Fairmile B Motor Launches, it was death trap which made cunning and deception a vital recipe for survival. Although they lacked the speed of the Motor Torpedo Boats and Motor Gun Boats, they proved their worth time and again with their versality and ability to operate in heavy weather. Also, although they lacked the speed to deal decisively with the faster S-boote, the Fairmiles packed heavy firepower and provided a significant deterrent to the German convoy raiders.The following pages are the story of one of these motor launches: H.M.M.L. 130 or simply, ML 130.