Religion:HMS Royal Scotsman

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United Kingdom
Name: Royal Scotsman
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
Yard number: 964[1]
Launched: 11 March 1936
Completed: 29 May 1936[1]
Acquired: October 1940
Identification: IMO number5301394
Honours and
  • Atlantic 1942
  • Sicily 1943
  • North Africa 1942–43
  • Salerno 1943
  • Returned to owner, March 1945.
  • Sold 1967, scrapped 1984.
General characteristics
Type: Landing Ship, Infantry
Length: 340 ft (100 m) o/a
Beam: 48 ft (15 m)
Draught: 17 ft (5.2 m) (deep)
Propulsion: 7,500 shp (5,593 kW) twin diesel engines
Troops: 830
Complement: 236

HMS Royal Scotsman, originally the MV Royal Scotsman, was an LSI of the British Royal Navy that served during World War II. A former passenger ferry, she saw action in the Mediterranean during the invasions of North Africa (Operation Torch), Sicily and Italy.[2] It was later purchased in 1967 by the Church of Scientology and renamed the MV Apollo, and became the headquarters of the Church of Scientology, the founding flagship of the Sea Org, and the personal residence of L. Ron Hubbard until 1975.


The ship was built by Harland and Wolff, at Belfast, for the Burns and Laird Lines as Yard No. 964. Launched on 11 March 1936, the ship was completed on 29 May 1936, and entered service as MV Royal Scotsman as a passenger and cargo ferry in the Irish Sea, operating between Belfast and Glasgow.[2]

Operational history

Royal Scotsman was requisitioned by the Admiralty in October 1940, for use as a store ship, commissioned as HMS Royal Scotsman, and modified for use as a Landing Ship, Infantry. Work was completed by January 1941, and she prepared for operational service. Most of the ship's company were the original merchant crew who had joined the Navy under T124X engagements (which meant that they could not be transferred to a combat ship), while the captain and some specialist officers were from the Royal Navy or Reservists.[2]

Initially deployed in home waters, in August 1941, she embarked troops at the Clyde for "Operation Grey", a planned occupation of the Azores. After sailing to Scapa Flow to join military convoy WS-8C, the operation was cancelled, and Royal Scotsman returned to the Clyde. On 17 September 1941, she joined military convoy WS-11X in the Clyde, to transport military personnel to Gibraltar, as reinforcements for Malta ("Operation Halberd"), returning to the UK, in October, to train with Combined Operations personnel.[2]

From January 1942, she took part in extensive exercises for amphibious operations, and on 26 October, sailed to Gibraltar, as part of military convoy KMF-1 for the invasion of North Africa, in "Operation Torch".[2] In the early hours of 8 November, she landed men of the United States 1st Ranger Battalion to capture the port of Arzew,[3] and then was deployed to transport troops and equipment in the western Mediterranean, operating with her sister ship Royal Ulsterman, and the Dutch ships Princess Beatrix and Queen Emma.[2]

In May 1943, she took part in landings on the Italian island of Pantelleria ("Operation Corkscrew"), then on 10 July, landed troops on the beach codenamed "Bark South" during the Allied invasion of Sicily. In September, she sailed to Tripoli, to embark troops, and joined military convoy TSF-1 to land troops at Salerno, on 9 September. In November 1943, she returned to the UK.[2]

There is no record of her being deployed in any further operations, though whether the ship was damaged or only used for training purposes is unknown. In February 1945, she was decommissioned and returned to her original owners in March.[2]


She remained in service with Burns & Laird, until 1967, when she was purchased by the Church of Scientology and renamed Apollo, to serve as flagship of the Sea Org, as well as the residence of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and his family. (Coincidentally, Apollo was of a similar ship type to the USS Algol, an amphibious cargo ship which Hubbard served on from December 1943 to September 1944.) She cruised mostly in the Mediterranean Sea and on the Atlantic coasts of Europe and Africa. Apollo served as the headquarters of the Church of Scientology until the church established its headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, in 1975.


Apollo was scrapped in 1984.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 McCluskie, Tom (2013). The Rise and Fall of Harland and Wolff. Stroud: The History Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780752488615. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Mason, Geoffrey B. (2010). "HMS Royal Scotsman, LSI". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War II. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  3. Price, Bob (1991). "Darby's Rangers in Action". Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  4. "The Royal Scotsman". Retrieved 2 April 2014.