ex HMS Fratton, Fratton
Nigel Thornton Collection
Steel twin screw steamer, built and engined by D. & W. Henderson, Glasgow, in 1925 (Yard No 720) for the Southern Railway
- Length on Deck: 69.82m (220.7 ft)
- Breadth of Hull: 10.24m (33.6 ft)
- Depth: 4.30m
- Tonnage: 757 net/624 gross/305 deadweight
- Engines: Two Self-Reduction 6-cylinder 15”,25”,41”-24”steam turbines
- Power: 1,850 ihp
- Speed: 15 knots
- Capacity: 5 passengers, 30,000 cu ft of cargo space
- Call Sign: MNKW
- Registry: Southampton
- Number in Book (Lloyds Register) 1944-45: 75204
- Official Number: 147039
- Sister Ships: Tss TONBRIDGE, MINSTER, HYTHE (II), MAIDSTONE II, WHITSTABLE, DEAL (II), HASLEMERE, RINGWOOD.
From 1924 to 1928 nine new twin-screw cargo steamers were put into commission on the Dover, Folkestone and Southampton services by the new Company (Southern Railway) ; the above seven were allocated to Dover and Folkestone, the remainder being based at Southampton, though a certain amount of interchanging has occurred from time to time. These ships were all alike though their gross tonnage varied between 680 and 750; they came from Meadowside Yard of Messrs. D & W Henderson, Glasgow, the firm so closely identified with the old Anchor Line. They were handsome ships of their class, each with a single funnel, two masts and cruiser stern. They appear to be credited with a maximum speed of 15 knots.
August 18th 1925: Launched at a cost of £41,450.
September 27th 1925: Entered service at Folkestone. Also used at Southampton.
October 7th 1927: Struck the Vieux Bank off St Malo and had to be escorted back to Southampton.
1930’s (summers): Carried cars Southampton – Le Havre.
Nigel Thornton Collection
December 20th 1933: Ran aground on Brook Beach, Isle of Wight, in thick fog, inward bound to Southampton from Jersey. She was carrying 10 passengers and was aground for 8 hours before re-floating herself and continuing on her way. No damage to the hull reported.
June 21st 1940 – June 22nd 1940: Made one crossing carrying evacuees from Guernsey – Weymouth., then resume her cargo sailings.
June 28th 1940: Crossing from Southampton to Guernsey, attacked by German aircraft and recalled.
August 9th 1940: Requisitioned and used as a barrage-balloon vessel for three years. Based at Sheerness.
August 12th 1940: Commissioned as HMS FRATTON.
© Imperial War Museum (IWM HU1335)
September 2nd 1940 – December 1st 1940: Had completed 15 consecutive convoys without serious defects.
February 6th 1942: In collision with the vessel RUDMORE in the Thames Estuary.
May 12th 1943: Ordered to land her gear at Sheerness following the withdrawal from service. Re-allocated to serve as a coastal convoy Commodore’s Ship, again based at Sheerness.
February 1944 (late): Completed service as a coastal convoy Commodore’s ship.
June 1944: At Weymouth and used as a – 20 ft steel tanks designed to act as outer floating breakwaters off each of the Normandy beaches) assembly control vessel.
June 4th 1944: Left Weymouth via Selsey.
June 7th 1944: Arrived off Gold beach-head as a “Bombardon” control ship.
August 18th 1944: Whilst at anchor off the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches, when an explosion occurred on the port side aft. The vessel sank within four minutes, the victim of a torpedo attack.
All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright.
Thanks to John Hendy.