The strange case of the Zubian

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Donald Winship

Okay, many of you probably already know this story, but for those who don't, here it goes. The Navy had 2 Tribal class destroyers called Zulu and Nubian. The Zulu took to a mine to the stern, while the Nubian lost her bow to a torpedo. The remaining sections made their way to port, and eventually they were joined to form the HMS Zubian

Weird eh, although it wasn't the only time 2 ships became one, but the naming choice, if I'm not mistaken, is unique
Yes, Donald. The Royal Navy, you neglected to mention, however most folks on this website would know. Lightoller and the Falcon were in that action. He describes it like this:

"This time our luck was in, and we caught our wily friend, and gave him a good trouncing. His report was that he had suffered no damage, whereas on the other hand, he had sunk two British Destroyers. This was not exactly correct though we did get two badly damaged. Still, not by any means sunk, they both got back into the harbour. One was torpedoed in the stern, and with the other, the best part of her bows gone. With unlooked for economy the Dockyard cut each in two, and as they were sister ships, joined the forward end of one to the after end of the other, and with unexpected humour, called the result H.M.S.Zubian"

C.H. Lightoller Titanic and Other Ships p.299
I can add a wee bit which makes the story even odder...

The Nubian and Zulu were both Tribal class destroyers built for the Royal Navy in about 1908. They were built by different builders and in those days each builder was given a specification to work to by the Director of Naval Construction.

the result was to lay down parameters for the design- a certain armament, a certain speed, a certain displacement etc. However, each builder had their own methods of construction, and e ach bulider produced a different design of ship within the same class.

This actually worked fairly well, allowing a variety of different approaches to be tried within specific limits.

Zulu and Nubian were, as you may have guessed, built by different builders - I don't have my reference books to hand but shall check it out over the weekend. Now, IIRC they differed in beam by a few inches, for example, and had different framing arrangements.

Thus, joining the two together required some careful calculation and attention to detail.

They were sister ships... but it was a bit more complex than simply welding two identical ships together.

Adam Leet

Haha, makes one wonder, considering Olympic was damaged in the stern, and Titanic had bow damage, that *that* was the conspiracy theory, and the ship that survived to the 1930s was actually Olytanic!

...okay, I need caffeine.


Pat Cook

Or if you had to combine 3 ships into one! Say, you merge the Titanic with the Lancaster and then the Olympic - you'd have a 'Tilanol'!

This is what you think of when you have a headache.
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