Vosper & Company
Vosper & Company, often referred to simply as Vospers, was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

Shipbuilding is the construction of ships and floating vessels. It normally takes place in a specialized facility known as a shipyard. Shipbuilders, also called shipwrights, follow a specialized occupation that traces its roots to before recorded history.Shipbuilding and ship repairs, both...

 company based in Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...



The Company was established in 1871 by Herbert Edward Vosper, concentrating on ship repair and refitting work.

By the turn of the century, Vosper was prospering as a general-purpose builder of small craft, boilers and marine engines, for which they had made a name for themselves as a producer of reliable designs. In the lean times after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, they concentrated mainly on ship repair to survive. By the early 1930s, the company began to concentrate on high speed naval craft, yachts and power boats, for which they would become renowned. In 1936 they became listed as a public company, known as Vosper, Limited, at which time they moved to a new yard at Portchester
Portchester is a locality and suburb 10km northwest of Portsmouth, England. It is part of the borough of Fareham in Hampshire. Once a small village, Portchester is now a busy part of the expanding conurbation between Portsmouth and Southampton, on the A27 main thoroughfare...

. They built Sir Malcolm Campbell's water speed record breaking
Water speed record
The World Unlimited water speed record is the officially recognised fastest speed achieved by a water-borne vehicle. The current record of 511 km/h was achieved in 1978....

 Bluebird K4
Bluebird K4
Blue Bird K4 was a powerboat commissioned in 1939 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, to rival the Americans' efforts in the fight for the world water speed record....

, reaching 141.74 mph in 1939.

Vosper would become famous as the builder of small (60 to 70 foot) un-stepped planing
Planing (sailing)
Planing is the mode of operation for a waterborne craft in which its weight is predominantly supported by hydrodynamic lift, rather than hydrostatic lift .-History:...

 hull-form naval Motor Torpedo Boat
Motor Torpedo Boat
Motor Torpedo Boat was the name given to fast torpedo boats by the Royal Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy.The capitalised term is generally used for the Royal Navy boats and abbreviated to "MTB"...

s (MTB) and Motor Gun Boat
Motor Gun Boat
Motor Gun Boat was a Royal Navy term for a small military vessel of the Second World War. They were physically similar to the Motor Torpedo Boats but equipped with a mix of guns instead of torpedoes. Their small size and high speed made them difficult targets for E-boats or torpedo bombers, but...

s (MGB) for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The original boats had a length of 68 feet and were based upon the prototype MTB 102
MTB 102
MTB 102 is one of few surviving motor torpedo boats that served with the Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy in the Second World War. She was built as the Vosper Private Venture Boat as a prototype, but was purchased and taken into service by the Admiralty....

, which survives to this day as a museum piece. Vosper's designs were widely emulated, and were also elaborated into high speed launches for the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

, for rescuing the crews of ditched aircraft. Vosper's wartime experience and accumulation of expertise led to a postwar concentration on high speed fast attack craft, for which they developed a novel "hard chine
Chine (boating)
A chine in boating refers to a sharp angle in the hull, as compared to the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls. The term hard chine indicates an angle with little rounding, where a soft chine would be more rounded, but still involve the meeting of distinct planes. Chine log...

" V-section hull-form, incorporated in the postwar development MTB 1601, capable of 43 knots. They were selected to experiment with the gas turbine
Gas turbine
A gas turbine, also called a combustion turbine, is a type of internal combustion engine. It has an upstream rotating compressor coupled to a downstream turbine, and a combustion chamber in-between....

 as a form of marine propulsion. The former Steam Gun Boat
Steam Gun Boat
The Steam Gun Boat was a Royal Navy term for a class of small naval vessels used during the Second World War. The class consisted of nine gun boats, powered by steam, and built from 1940 to 1942 for the Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy....

 (SGB) HMS Grey Goose was rebuilt by Vosper with the Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 RM60 engine, followed by the two Bold-class experimental patrol boats fitted with Metropolitan-Vickers
Metropolitan-Vickers, Metrovick, or Metrovicks, was a British heavy electrical engineering company of the early-to-mid 20th century formerly known as British Westinghouse. Highly diversified, they were particularly well known for their industrial electrical equipment such as generators, steam...

 G2 engines. This pioneering hull and propulsion work reached its peak with the then revolutionary Brave-class
Brave class fast patrol boat
The Brave fast patrol boats were a class of patrol boats that were the last of their type for the Royal Navy Coastal Forces division.They followed the Bold class, which were a pair of experimental turbojet powered boats...

 of 1958, powered by the Bristol Siddeley
Bristol Siddeley
Bristol Siddeley Engines Ltd was a British aero engine manufacturer. The company was formed in 1959 by a merger of Bristol Aero-Engines Limited and Armstrong Siddeley Motors Limited. In 1961 the company was expanded by the purchase of the de Havilland Engine Company and the engine division of...

 Proteus turboprop engine
Bristol Proteus
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9* Hooker, Sir Stanley. Not Much Of An Engineer. Airlife Publishing, 1985. ISBN 1853102857....

. The Brave-class utilised special Vosper-developed "super cavitating
Supercavitation is the use of cavitation effects to create a bubble of gas inside a liquid large enough to encompass an object traveling through the liquid, greatly reducing the skin friction drag on the object and enabling achievement of very high speeds...

" propellers, later developed to allow speeds of up to 58 knots.

In the 1960s the company began to move into producing larger vessels, especially for the many emerging navies of post-colonial countries, including the Mark V or Alvand-class frigate
Alvand class frigate
The Alvand class comprise four Iranian light patrol frigates. Only three are currently in service....

, with VSEL, for the Iranian Navy. Vosper alone, however, was unable to produce craft of this size, and in 1966 a merger with John I. Thornycroft & Company
John I. Thornycroft & Company
John I. Thornycroft & Company Limited, usually known simply as Thornycroft was a British shipbuilding firm started by John Isaac Thornycroft in the 19th century.-History:...

 provided the shipbuilding capacity and experience to produce the larger vessels being designed by Vosper. The new group was known as Vosper Thornycroft. The former Vosper designs were developed by the new company into the Mark 10 or Niteroi-class frigate
Niteroi class frigate
- History :The Niterói Class Frigates were designed and built by the British shipyard Vosper Thornycroft in the 1970's. These ships were designated Mk 10 by Vosper Thornycroft and are the largest of a series of ships built by that shipyard for both foreign buyers and the Royal Navy, also known as...

s for the Brazilian Navy
Brazilian Navy
The Brazilian Navy is a branch of the Brazilian Armed Forces responsible for conducting naval operations. It is the largest navy in Latin America...

 and subsequently elaborated into the handsome and pioneering Type 21
Type 21 frigate
The Type 21 frigate or Amazon-class frigate was a Royal Navy general-purpose escort designed in the late 1960s, built in the 1970s and that served throughout the 1980s into the 1990s.-History:...

 or Amazon-class frigate for the Royal Navy, the first major Royal Navy warship built to a private design since World War II. Vosper Thornycroft continued trading in Woolston, Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

  until 2003 when they relocated shipbuilding operations to Portsmouth operating as VT Group
VT Group
VT Group plc was a British defence and services company, formerly known as Vosper Thornycroft. The Company had diversified from shipbuilding into various engineering and support services, becoming involved in many areas of provision through five main operating groups: VT Communications, VT...


The Vosper name is continued by "Vosper International", an independent ship design bureau since 1987.

In July 2008 VT Group
VT Group
VT Group plc was a British defence and services company, formerly known as Vosper Thornycroft. The Company had diversified from shipbuilding into various engineering and support services, becoming involved in many areas of provision through five main operating groups: VT Communications, VT...

 and BAE Systems merged their shipbuilding and naval support businesses in a Joint Venture which traded as BVT Surface Fleet. VT Group exited the shipbuilding industry in 2009 when BAE Systems acquired VT Group's interest in the Joint Venture. BVT Surface Fleet now trades as BAE Systems Surface Ships.

Furthur reading

  • Allied Coastal Forces of World War Two, Volume II : Vosper designs - by John Lambert
    John Lambert (naval historian)
    John Lambert is a naval illustrator and historian. He specialises in naval boats up to destroyer size. The information he presents and his detailed drawings of warships and their weapons systems are referenced from official naval and shipbuilder sources....

     and Al Ross, 1993, ISBN 0-85177-602-7

See also

  • Fairmile Marine
    Fairmile Marine
    Fairmile Marine was a British boat building company founded in 1939 by the car manufacturer Noel Macklin.Macklin used the garage at his home at Cobham Fairmile in Surrey for manufacturing assembly which is why the boats he designed came to be called Fairmiles....

  • British Power Boat Company
    British Power Boat Company
    The British Power Boat Company was a British manufacturer of motor boats, particularly racing boats and later military patrol boats.It was formed on 30 September 1927 when Hubert Scott-Paine bought and renamed the Hythe Shipyard with the intention of transforming it into one of the most modern mass...

  • Electric Launch Company
    Electric Launch Company
    The Electric Launch Company, later renamed Elco Motor Yachts, is a United States boat building and electric motor company that has operated from 1893 until present . It was originally run by Henry R. Sutphen in 1895...

  • British Coastal Forces of World War II
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