S.T. Michael Griffith FD249


Admiralty Number: FY3781
Official Number: 145118
Yard Number: 402
Completed: 1919
Gross Tonnage: 282
Net Tonnage: 109
Length: 125.2 ft
Breadth: 23.5 ft
Depth: 12.7 ft
Engine: 480ihp T.3-cyl and boiler by Amos & Smith Ltd, Hull
Built: Cook Welton & Gemmell Ltd, Beverley
Speed: 10.5 knots


5.9.1918: Launched by Cook, Welton & Gemmell Ltd, Beverley (Yd.No.402) (“Castle” class) for The Admiralty as MICHAEL GRIFFITH (Ad.No.3781).
5.4.1919: Completed.
1920: Registered by The Admiralty in the Registry of British Ships at London.
11.5.1920: Sold at auction at Milford Haven to Henry Leetham & Sons Ltd, York (Raymond D. T. Birt, Milford Haven, manager).
22.9.1921: Registered at London (LO529).
11.12.1923: Sold to Phoenix Trawling Co Ltd, York (Raymond D. T. Birt, Milford Haven, manager).
6.11.1929: Sold to James Ritchie & William T. Davies, Hakin, joint managers (trading as West Coast Trawlers, Milford Haven).
10.6.1933: Suffered machinery breakdown 45 miles W of St. Ann’s Head. Trawler WILLIAM DOWNES (LO530) directed to position, connected and delivered Milford.
30.8.1939: Requisitioned for war service as a minesweeper (P.No.FY.567) (Hire rate £90.12.6d/month).
7.1943: Fitted out as a boom defence vessel.
1.1945: Returned.
1945: Sold to The Clifton Steam Trawlers Ltd, Fleetwood. Registered at Fleetwood (FD249).
29.1.1953: Sailed Fleetwood for fishing grounds (Sk. Charles Singleton); thirteen crew.
30.1.1953: Having returned to Fleetwood for repairs to the feed pump, sailed again at 12.30 am. for the fishing grounds. At 8.30 pm. sighted by Fleetwood trawler AIGRET (FD180) which, with gear stowed was dodging W1/2S of Dubh Artacht Light in the hope of an improvement in the weather. A short time after an adverse weather forecast was received by the AIGRET and the skipper decided to seek shelter and set a course to the E of Skerryvore. Passing close to the AIGRET, Skipper Singleton continued northwards and his stern light was visible until about 11.10pm. By now a NW gale force 9 was blowing, veering between NNW and N and increasing to force 10, with snow, very rough sea and 30 ft waves.
31.1.1953: At 9.23 am. trawlers VELIA (FD116) and WYRE GENERAL (FD258) picked up a distress message. “All ships – MICHAEL GRIFFITH, 7 – 8 miles south of Barra – full of water, no steam. Am helpless. Will some ship please come and help us”. Both trawlers were too far away but relayed the distress message. The trawlers WARDOUR (GY523) and BRACONBANK (A237) were at least 85 miles away but proceeded in appalling conditions to the given position. HMS TENACIOUS (P.No.F44) was ordered to sail from Londonderry and an air search was carried out by the RAF. Castlebay and later, Islay lifeboats were launched and searched for seven hours but found nothing; two crew members of Islay lifeboat died from fumes and exhaustion.
7.2.1953: Lifeboat washed ashore on Inishtrahull, Co Donegal. Presumed foundered approx 7 miles south of Barra Head with loss of all thirteen crew*.
30.4.1954: At the MoT formal inquiry in Fleetwood, the court was unable to find the cause of the disaster, but probably exceptionally heavy weather (HMS TENACIOUS recorded 100mph wind, 50 ft waves and snow storm in the vicinity). The court found that the trawler was seaworthy and properly equipped. (The loss of the Michael Griffith heralded the The Great Storm-1953, which resulted in the loss of the ferry PRINCESS VICTORIA (2694g/1947) , other vessels in the North Sea and the flooding and loss of life in the South East, particularly Canvey Island).

(* – Sk. Charles Singleton; Leonard Grundy, Mate; J. T. Wilson, Bosun; Harry Anderson, Ch. Eng; Thomas Burns, 2nd Eng; James Tucker, Stanley Johns, Charles Murdoch & J. Cryson, deckhands; George Palin, deckie-learner; A. Bindle, cook; W. Hargreaves & R. Bodden, firemen)

(Michael Griffiths (note ‘s’), OS, age 23, b. Waterford, Co. Waterford – VICTORY (SB843))

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S.T. Michael Griffith FD249

S.T. Michael Griffith FD249
Picture courtesy of Peter Brady

16/01/2009: Page published. 4 updates since then.