Meeching – Past and Present

MV Nore-Crest

ex Meeching

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw diesel engined tug built 1960 by P.K. Harris, Appledore. (Yard No 127 ) for British Transport Commission

Technical Data

  • Length: 29.26m (96.00 ft) (overall), 27.73m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 7.68m (25.2 ft)(extreme), 7.76m (moulded)
  • Depth: 3.68m
  • Draught: 3.11m (10.2 ft) maximum
  • Tonnage: 153, 163, 173 gross/52 net
  • Engines: 2 x 8-cylinder, 4s.sa with srg. reverse gear Lister/Blackstone & Co diesels
  • Rated: 1,320 bhp
  • Speed: 12.5 knots
  • Bollard Pull: 14 tons
  • Call Sign: GGZA (1960 – ?)
  • IMO: 5230686
  • Registry: Newhaven, London

History

May 1960: Delivered to British Transport Commission at Newhaven. She was licensed for seagoing duties in waters as far south as Brest.

© Sealink News  © Sealink News

© Sealink News (both)

 

October 20th 1968:

“The 15,500 ton Norwegian tanker Sitakund caught fire in the shipping lanes off Beachy Head after three large explosions in her cargo tanks. Most of her crew abandoned ship and were picked up by French trawlers, while her Master and a small group of men stayed on board to try to fight the fires. While the Royal Navy frigate HMS Mohawk was advising all vessels to keep clear, warning that the ship’s tanks were full of gas and that she could explode at any moment, and the famous Dutch salvage tug Zwarte Zee was making frantic radio calls offering her assistance under the famous ‘no cure, no pay’ Lloyd’s’ Open Form salvage agreement, Meeching quietly slipped in and made fast. A rope ladder was hanging over the stern and it was crew member Graham Ware who had the unenviable task of climbing on board the burning Sitakund to secure the line. It was Captain Frank Gilbert who then made the radio call saying simply “We have taken the casualty in tow, by the stern and are proceeding towards Eastbourne bay”. This stunned Mohawk’s radio operator into silence for a few moments and you could almost hear the gulp in his voice when he responded with “Roger, wait, out!”

The original intention was to beach Sitakund on the sands off Pevensey, but towing a burning and sinking tanker is not an exact science! She eventually grounded on rocks off Eastbourne Promenade, prompting ridiculous comments from some of Eastbourne’s councillors about her being deliberately placed there! For the next two days, Meeching led the fire fighting operations, often just inches from the stern of Sitakund, along with the tug Dominant from Dover and personnel from Eastbourne Fire Brigade. Zwarte Zee eventually turned up, much later than she had promised, and, like Hermes, got rather too close for comfort. My Dad eventually called her up on VHF radio and threatened to turn high-pressure fire hoses on her if she didn’t withdraw – she did!

When the fires were finally out, Sitakund became something of a tourist attraction for quite a while. She was eventually cut in two, with the relatively undamaged forward section being towed away in mid 1969 to Falmouth by the tug Englishman. The burnt out stern section remained in place for some months more before eventually being refloated and towed away to Spain for scrapping. For three days in 1968, Meeching had made the front pages in local and national newspapers and even demoted news of the Mexico Olympics to second place on the TV and radio news bulletins. Fame at last!” Courtesy and © Andy Gilbert (Our Newhaven)

© Ted Ingham   © Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham (all)

February 1st 1971: Towed the damaged SELBY (N.E. Region) Jersey – Southampton.

Sealink News, Nigel Thornton Collection

Sealink News, Nigel Thornton Collection

January 1st 1979: Transferred to Sealink UK Ltd., same name same service.

Nigel Thornton Collection   © A G Jones

Nigel Thornton Collection (left) and © A G Jones (right)

January 21st 1980: Stood by at the grounding, off Shoreham, of the cargo vessel ATHINA B.

© Ken Smith

© Ken Smith

July 27th 1984: Taken over by Sea Containers Ltd., Operated as Sealink.

July 1987: Refit @ Husband’s, Southampton

Nigel Thornton Collection   Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

July 1989: Refit @ Solent Slipway.

Nigel Thornton Collection   Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

1992: Owned by Newhaven Port & Properties Ltd.

October 21st 1998: Assisted in the rescue of 51 passengers and crew from the Dutch sail training schooner EENDRACHT. The schooner was leaving Newhaven harbour when she was overwhelmed by the gale force south – westerly winds. The vessel fetched up on a sandbar outside the harbour entrance and required immediate assistance to rescue the crew and passengers which were onboard.

June 20th 2000: Owner recorded as Saltow. Manager Sub-Search Marine.

December 4th 2000: Owner recorded as unknown.

April 9th 2001: Owner recorded as G Jewiss, Gravesend. Manager: Tug Manning, Gravesend.

October 2007: Lying off Queenborough, Sheerness.

July 2008: Laid up at Oare Creek, Faversham, Kent for restoration.

© Nigel Thornton  © Nigel Thornton

© Nigel Thornton (both)

© Andy Gilbert

© Andy Gilbert

January 24th 2012: Towed but tug SEA TRACTOR to Washers Wharf, Isle of Sheppey

© Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson

2012: Moved from Washer Wharf and  berthed at Klondyke Wharf, a cut just inside the entrance of Queenborough Creek. Now owned by Murray Tugs, Queenborough, Kent who plan to have her working again at Queenborough and Ramsgate later in 2012. Refurbishment under way and due to be slipped at Ramsgate in May/June for survey etc.

© Mike Jackson  © Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson  © Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson

June 2012: Registered Owner and Manager; Nore Maritime Services, Sittingbourne. Kent. To be named NORE-CREST

April 10th 2013: Arrived in Ramsgate (“on wall”) for “slipping”.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (all)

April 24th 2013: On Slipway.

© Andy Gilbert  © Andy Gilbert

© Andy Gilbert

© Andy Gilbert (all)

May 25th 2013: Departed for Queenborough.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (all)

© Ken Smith

© Ken Smith @ Queenborough 29/05/2013


All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Andy Gilbert, Ted Ingham, A G Jones,  Mike Jackson and Ken Smith for their assistance in producing this feature.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)


2 Comments

  1. Just a quick, but interesting note.
    Meeching was alway’s described as”British Railways’ (later Sealink’s) only tug”. Not quite the case, it would seem. Meeching was P K Harris’s yard no 127. Yard no 124, launched a few months earlier, was Stranton. Like Meeching, she was delivered to British Transport Commission, but for use at Hartlepool, and was under BTC ownership until 1963. Stranton had three UK identical sisters, Throston, Hart and Seaton. I’ll have to check their details out too. Like Meeching, Stranton is still going strong at the age of 56, as Panagia Soumela in Piraeus.
    Andy Gilbert

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