So frequently I post pictures of RFAs in that “Great RAS Corridor in the Sky”, well here’s a story about “The One That Got Away”
Freshspring was built as a RN auxiliary coasting water tanker by Lytham Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire. She was the last of the 14 Fresh class ships to be built, launched 15 August 1946, and completed 10 February 1947.
Her principal dimensions are; 121Ft long, 25ft 6inch beam and 10ft draft. She was crewed by 12 men. The ship is exclusively steam powered.
She has become the sole survivor of her class and is a unique example of the small seagoing Admiralty ships built to serve warships of the fleet.
Freshspring, on acceptance by RFA was directed to her first naval station at Malta.
In 1960 Freshspring steamed back to the UK to operate on the Clyde and the west coast of Scotland. She was converted from coal to oil fuel in 1961. Surveyed and refitted at Ardrossan in 1969. Upon completion of this refit she was towed to the Clyde where she spent her final service years as a stand by for when the resident water tanker was out of action.
Freshspring was eventually sold out of service on 4 July 1979 to a private owner, who had her towed to Bristol, where it was planned to use her for the experimental use of alternative fuels to power ships’ engines. It turned out that she was only steamed a couple of times in Bristol docks, carrying passengers and being fired by scrap wood. She now sits on the banks of the River Severn awaiting restoration and a new purpose in life.
The Steamship Freshspring Society has been formed as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation with the aim to promote maritime studies and sail Freshspring for seafarers of the future as a not-for-profit organisation.
It is quite early days of this project but, we plan in the future to use part of the ship as a museum/display area which will educate the public into the work carried out by Freshspring, her sister ships and the RFA
My thanks to Stephen Attenborough, Secretary, Steamship Freshspring Society, http://www.ssfreshspring.co.uk/ for the information and permission to reproduce these photographs here. Stephen is keen to establish links with anyone from the RFA Association who may be able to assist in any way at all. HE can be contacted through the SS Freshspring Society.