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The Royal Navy’s Secret Weapon

HMS Menestheues, the floating brewery.



THE Royal Navy has innovated many unusual, even unique ships. The most exceptional must surely be HMS Menestheus, a floating brewery with the Pacific Fleet Train.


The Pacific Area of Operations was a vast region with squadrons operating at great distances from the forward supply bases. Jack has always enjoyed his drink and Menestheus, a former Blue Funnel Line vessel was converted to fill this need.


Menestheus, designated a fleet amenities ship was a revolutionary design and many problems had to be overcome. Eventually Davy Jones’ Brewery was brewing 1800 gallons a day using distilled seawater, malt extract, hop concentrate and yeast at 9d (4p) a pint. The 17-strong brewing team under George Brow, former head of Truman’s Brewery produced a palatable drink that proved to be a huge success.


Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, later Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fraser of North Cape, commanded in the area and attended a review: Pacific Showboat aboard Menestheus.


Menestheus had a theatre/cinema, canteen, NAAFI shop and restaurant, reading and writing rooms and various shops, including a tailors, barbers and cobblers. There was also a small chapel so that every need was catered for.


The Americans also swarmed aboard as the US Navy is alcohol-free.


Menestheus remained in service until 1946, returning home to be stripped in a Tyneside shipyard and returned to her original condition for handing back to her owners.


The last of her beer was enjoyed in the NAAFI Club of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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