Owned by Mr. T.O.M. (later Sir 'Tommy') Sopwith, the aviation pioneer, aircraft builder and America's Cup challenger, Vita was the acme of the modern motor yacht when she was completed in 1926. Designed and built by Camper & Nicholson at Southampton, she was registered at 345 tons gross (183 net & 340 Thames), measured 143 feet in length with a 24 foot beam, and her twin screws were driven by powerful Sulzer diesel engines. Sold to Sir John Shelley-Rolls in 1929 and renamed Alastor, he still owned her in 1939 when she was acquired by the Ministry of War Transport and put to work in a variety of roles including training ship, armed transport and anti-submarine vessel. Released from war service in June 1945, she was undergoing repainting in Ringhaddy Sound, Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, in 1946 when she caught fire and sank in mysterious circumstances which were never satisfactorily explained.