British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesPast and PresentSouthern Railway

TS Fratton – Past and Present

Official Number: 147039

TS Fratton

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

Technical Data


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

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)

© 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 ( the assembly point of the Mulberry “Bombardons” – 200 ft steel tanks designed to act as outer floating breakwaters off each of the Normandy beach heads) as 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.

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

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