eBay buy of WW2 ship makes family YouTube sensation

After scrolling through eBay, Simon Robins and his wife and business partner Gemma bought a former World War II ship.

According to CNN Travel (https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/couple-buy-world-war-ii-ship-cmd/index.html), the couple paid £6,500 for the ship, known as L1392 while it was used for harbour defence, in order to save it from being scrapped.

Keen to keep their loved ones in the renovation loop during lockdown – they bought the ship in January 21 – Gemma Robins decided to launch a YouTube channel, Ship Happens, to talk about developments.

The account now has around 26,000 subscribers, with thousands of people from all over the world tuning in to each episode.

As a result of the success of their channel, the Robins have begun selling Ship Happens merchandise, while many subscribers have sent donations towards the cost of renovating the ship, along with gifts for the family.

The Robins, who run a business building camper vans together, knew that fixing up the 80-year-old vessel, which weighs 59-tons, would cost them thousands and require a great deal of time.

As the couple have no use for a war ship, they aren’t planning to restore the vessel to its original glory.

Instead, they hope to use it as a vacation home one day, but stress that they’ve made no definite plans with regards to its long term future.

“We said [it would take] 10 years when we first bought it, but YouTube is escalating the project,” says Gemma Robins.

“Everyone wants to see it done. That’s upped our timescale. And the contributions are really helping, because we’re not in the position to pour loads of money into this boat.

“We’ve still got commitments and bills to pay. So the additional support we’re getting from people is really helping the time frame.”

While over 400 of the Harbour Defence Launch (HDML) were constructed 80 or so years ago, very few are still around today.

During World War II, as part of the ML Flotilla, the Robins’ ship served as a navigation leader in Operation Neptune, the pivotal seaborne invasion of northern France known as D-Day.

It was repurposed as a fast dispatch boat after the war, before being transferred to the UK’s customs agency. By the 1970s, L1392 had been transformed into a charter vessel and renamed Sarinda. After going through several reinventions, including being converted to a luxury motor yacht, it was decommissioned in 2013.

Read more about the project on CNN Travel.

Image courtesy of Ship Happens facebook.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.