S.T. Chorley FD26
Additional information courtesy of Andrew Fleming
Official Number: 136891
Yard Number: 567
Gross Tonnage: 284
Net Tonnage: 112
Length: 128.8 ft
Breadth: 23.5 ft
Depth: 12.8 ft
Built: Smith’s Dock Co Ltd, Middlesborough
Engine: 85nhp T.3-cyl by Smith’s Dock Co Ltd, Middlesbrough
Speed: 10.5 knots
12.5.1914: Launched by Smith’s Dock Co Ltd, South Bank-on-Tees, Middlesbrough (Yd.No.567) for The Staretta Fishing Co Ltd, Fleetwood as CERESIA.
6.1914: Completed (Magnus B. J. Wedum, manager).
23.6.1914: Registered at Fleetwood (FD26).
23.11.1914: Requisitioned for war service as a minesweeper (1-12pdr, 1-7.5” A/S Howitzer) (Ad.No.194).
25.11.1914: Arrived Devonport for fitting out (VIVID II) Fitted as Leader.
21.12.1914: At Queenstown (COLLEEN).
28.1. – 13.2.1915: With minesweeping trawlers ROSE II (Ad.No.592) (GY312) and WALTHAM (Ad.no.689) (GY303) detached to Morecambe Bay.
12.3.1915: At Belfast & Larne (VALIANT II).
1.6.15: At Belfast & Larne (HERMIONE).
1.1.1916: At Belfast & Larne (THETIS).
5.1.1918: At Larne (VIGOROUS).
6.9.1918: Sold to The Palatine Steam Trawling Co Ltd, Fleetwood (Magnus B. J. Wedum, manager).
By 12.3.1919: Returned to owner at Fleetwood.
27.9.1921: Registered at Fleetwood as CHORLEY (FD26).
17.5.1930: On grounds off St. Kilda, abandoned fishing due to weather. Passing island observed signals, entered Village Bay and islanders rowed out to ask to relay a message for assistance as a 22-year-old woman, Mary Gillies, was seriously ill. Trawler asked by Scottish Board of Health, Edinburgh to go to Leverburgh, Harris to pick up Dr Alexander Shearer and George Henderson + from the Board of Health; owners approved.
17.5.1930: Just before midnight arrived off St. Kilda but conditions in Village Bay very rough.
18.5.1930: At about 10.00 am. doctor and health inspector transferred to shore. Storm bound.
19.5.1930: Mary Gillies, suffering from a form of TB, assessed as too ill to be moved. Doctor and health official embarked and returned to Leverburgh.
21.5.1930: Mary Gillies died, attended by Williamina Barclay the resident nurse.
22.5.1930: Returned to Fleetwood.
20.3.1931: Arrived Oban making water in forepeak.
21.12.1932: Stood by and attempted to refloat steam trawler VELIA (FD49) stranded two miles S of Point of Ayre, IoM.
1936: Sold to Ora Trawlers Ltd, Fleetwood (Sydney Leech, manager).
25.1.1940: Requisitioned for war service as a boom gate vessel (P.No. Z.153) (Hire rate £75.14.8d/month). Based Plymouth (Ty/Boom Sk. Albert James Beckett RNR).
24.4.1942: Loaded boom material at RN Boom Depot, Turnchapel for transfer to Dartmouth and to relieve HM Trawler WESTLYN (P.No.Z154) (FD4) as Gate Vessel.
25.4.1942: At 0615 sailed for Dartmouth astern of minesweepers, Senior Officer (Lieut. W. F. Turner RNVR) in HM Trawler BILSDEAN (P.No.FY.503) (GN15) (not attached to them by Sailing Order). At 0830 in fresh weather started to take in water in fore messdeck through skylights, leaking deck seams and rivets, shell plating below bulwark, starboard side *, ventilators and later when down by the head, through main hatch. Under direction of Coxswain fore messdeck baling but water level increasing. Skipper informed. At about 1530, following a reduction in speed, Senior Officer asked what was wrong and Sk. Beckett replied ‘a hot bearing’, making no mention of leaks and flooding. BILSDEAN turned and came up to vessel which by now was listing to port and well down by the head. At 1615 foundered by the head off Start Point (wreck in position 50.9W 3.38W). Twenty survivors and two bodies picked up and landed Dartmouth.
1942: Fleetwood registry closed.
4.5.1942: Report of CinC Plymouth’s Board of Inquiry (No.M.591/84 dated 1 May 1942) found the loss of the vessel rests primarily with the Commanding Officer, Sk. Beckett, in that he could have returned to Plymouth once leakage was evident or turned stern to the sea and informed the Senior Officer; he did neither. It also considered that blame must rest on Commander C. R. Ryman RN, Boom Defence Officer, Plymouth for allowing the ship which was under his operational and administrative control to put to sea. The Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth took blame on himself in that the organisation of his Command permitted this vessel to go to sea without proper Sailing Orders. The Director of Navigation in The Admiralty, however, made the following comments;
“Many craft in a Command are unfit to take passage except in favourable weather conditions, and it is the responsibility of the Command to see that these passages are only undertaken when conditions are suitable, and as far as I can see the Authority responsible for Sailing is the one chiefly responsible.”
Note +: George Henderson was the compiler of a critical report on the situation at St. Kilda and the health of the remaining residents. This report acted as a catalyst and was used in support of a petition to the Government by the remaining 36 inhabitants to be evacuated to the mainland. Evacuation of the island took place on 29 August 1930.
Note *: In Feb 1941 involved in collision with steam tender SIR FRANCIS DRAKE (478grt/1908) sustaining damage to starboard cable trough and plating. This was repaired at refit in Falmouth in Sept 1941 but bulwarks were buckled on the starboard side and this damage was not made good.
(Missing: Ty/Boom Skipper Albert James Beckett RNR. Drowned: Ch Stoker John H. Downing and PO Stoker William S. Dalton – both buried in Plymouth)
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21/01/2009: Page published. 9 updates since then.
21/09/2015: Information updated.
08/09/2016: Information updated.