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ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381
Built
1936
Cook Welton & Gemmell
Off Number
164991
Length Ft
172.2
Tons Gross
565
Yard Number
618
Breadth Ft
29.1
Tons Net
210
Launched
15 10 1936
Draught
17.9
Hp
157 HP
Registered
07 12 1936
Engine Builder
C D Holmes
Knots
12.3 K
Previous Name St LOMAN H381 Owners 07 12 1936 - 1951 Thomas Hamling & Co Ltd
  H.M.T St LOMAN   09 Sept 1939 - 1946 Admiralty
    Refitted 28 11 1951 and Sold to Boyd Line
    Owners 04 12 1951 Boyd Line Hull
Renamed ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 Fitted for fuel oil 14 01 1952 Renamed
    Fitted for fuel oil June 1953
    . 08 Dec 1964 Boiler explosion occured killing 3 men the vessel was deemed beyond repair
Fate :Sent for scrap arriving at Ghent 26 01 1965
Admiralty Requisition
Pennant No
Role
Returned
09 Sep 1939
FY 276
Anti Submarine
02 07 1946
Loaned United States Navy 25 02 1942 - returned to Royal Navy Oct 1945 - Returned to owners 07 1946
The Arctic Adventurer was previously the Hull Trawler St Loman who had a distinguished service career after been requisitioned into the Navy as FY276 HMT St Loman or as her crew called her the Fighting Saint. On the 4th Dec 1951 after been sold to the Boyd Line by Hamlings she was reanamed the Arctic Adventurer after a refit and a change over to fuel oil she joined the Boyd Line Fleet.

Surname
Christian
Age
Vessel
Birth Pl
Occupation
Date/ Scource
Detail
CREWMEN
MINNS JESSE JAMES 58 ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Fireman 08 Dec 1964 Died after Boiler Explosion
. . . 13 Auckland Terrace Gillett St Hull . . .
NORTHEY THOMAS 45 ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Second Engineer 08 Dec 1964 Died after Boiler Explosion
. . . 66 Selby St . . .
. . . . . . . .
SMITH WILLIAM 37 ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Chief Engineer 08 Dec 1964 Died after Boiler Explosion
. . . .92 Flinton St Hull . . .
. . . . . . . .
MAYES ROY 41 ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Skipper 08 Dec 1964 .
. . . 38 Queens Gate St . . . .
STONER JAMES H 41 ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Skipper . .
DODSLEY RON . ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Mate 08 Dec 1964 .
BRICKWOOD JOHN . ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Telegraphist 08 Dec 1964 .
RAYWORTH GEORGE . ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Fireman 08 Dec 1964 .
WOOLDRIDGE CLIVE . ARCTIC ADVENTURER H381 . Sparehand 03 05 58 - 16 09 58 .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .

 

The Tragic Voyage of the Arctic Adventurer

At 0800 on the morning of Dec 7th 1964 the Arctic Adventurer with her crew of 20 nosed out of the lock at St Andrews dock, heading into the river she began her long journey to the Arctic fishing grounds of the White Sea off Cape Kanin. As the trawler reached Spurn point and headed for the open sea Chief Engineer Bill Smith and Second Engineer Thomas Northey were happy with the sound and performance of the vessels engines. Ahead was a 6 day steam to the fishing grounds of Cape Kanin, the crew settled to their work as the engines beated with their usuall rythmical sound. The wind was high as the trawler made her way into the North Sea, the movement of the ship as she rose and fell with each crest of a wave or the spray that shot over the bow and engulfed the vessel was the normal weather encountered by these distant Arctic warriors. The vessel now 28 years old had a distiguished war record and had proved herself a good seaworthy ship, that had encountered and taken in her stride the best the Arctic weather could throw at her. By that evening the wind had increased and the Arctic Adventurer ploughed through the heavy swells all but the watch on the bridge and the engine room crew of the Chief and Second engineer and fireman Jesse Minns had turned in or were below decks resting.. Fireman George Rayworth had handed over his watch to fireman Minns and had headed for his bunk, he was now snuggled in the warm blankets and settled down for his rest period. Skipper Mayes had been on the bridge of the trawler most of that day since arriving early at the dock, at about half past twelve that night he handed over the watch to the Mate Ron Dodsley as he too headed for his bunk, he told Dodsley if the weather was to deteriorate he was to give him a call. With only his own thoughts as company Ron Dodsley started his watch, the wind was howling around the bridge of the vessel, the spray was hitting the windows, making it even more difficult to see in the darkness, now and again he saw the tower of white froth as a wave broke over the ship. He could feel the sway of the ship as she rode the huge waves, the sudden shudder as she was hit head on by a torrent of water, which cascaded over her bow, ran down the deck and out the scuppers. Only hours after leaving the dock Rons mind was on his return, another christmas away from the family but they hoped to be back at Hull by new years, when belated presents would be opened and christmas proper could begin. It was close to 12.55 pm when a loud rumbling noise broke his thoughts the trawler had started to blow off steam, the sound of the howling wind now been drowned by the unfamiliar noise, an explosion then occured and threw Ron Dodsley to the floor of the bridge, before he had regained his feet the vessel was plunged into darkness, as he called out for the skipper, skipper Mayes burst through the door. Skipper Mayes shouted into the darkened room "what the hell has happened" .Both men now alert to any movement or noise the vessel made heared the piercing cry for help, Skipper Mayes going out the bridge door saw the Chief Engineer Bill Smith lying on the deck just below the wheelhouse, as the skipper got to Bill he said " its the boilers skipper, the boilers have gone ".

Immediately the skipper ordered John Brickwood the sparks of the Arctic Adventurer to send a Mayday call, the automatic distress signal button was pressed immediately, he then placed his fingers on the morse key and tapped out the distress call on the emergency frequency of 2.182 Khz, the emergency batteries which were kept for such an occasion kicked in as the message was sent. At 01.20am a operator at Cullercoates nr Whitley Bay Northumberland quickly answered the distress call, asking the nature of the distress, Brickwood replied, "there has been a serious explosion the boilers have burst and we have no power or steering". Ron Dodsley was arranging search parties, the extent of the damage, or the men involved was not yet known, was the vessel in danger of sinking, all questions needing quick answers in the darkness of the crippled vessel which now lay helpless with no power or lighting in a raging sea 150 miles from land.. Vessels also answered the distress call the Norwegian mailboat Venus which had a doctor on board, although she was 80 miles from Aberdeen heading to Starvanger, changed her course into the wind and headed for the Adventurer she was too far away to render any assistance. The Aberdeen trawler Netherley which was sheltering near St Abb`s Head Scotland flashed a message to the Adventurer saying she could pick up a doctor at Dunbar and be with her by 10.00am, realising the extent of injuries received by the engine room crew Skipper Mayes told the sparks Brickwood to accept the offer.

A crew count had taken place and it was found that fireman Jesse Minns was missing, Jesse had been on trawlers since leaving school at 14, he had been a fireman / trimmer with the same firm all the time, he had sailed on many vessels and done many trips, recently he had taken several months off due to illness and also to care for his invalid wife, this was his second trip since his return. Skipper Mayes, Ron Dodsley and fireman Rayworth went to the stokehold in search of jesse Minns, they encountered four feet of water under the stokehold plate mostly from the burst boiler, Jesse was found leant against the forward bulkhead and in the torch light his injuries looked serious, Ron Dodsley lifted Minns onto his back and headed to the galley were he placed him on a table and wrapped him in blankets, Jesse Minns died a few minutes later. Chief Engineer Bill Smith, Second Engineer Thomas Northey and Fireman Jesse Minns had taken the full blast of the explosion when the boiler burst. At 01.40am with engineer Smith and Northey`s condition worsening Brickwood relayed the news of Minns death to Cullercoates and the Netherley, the Netherley replied that she had a doctor onboard which had been taken to her by lifeboat and was proceeding, arrival approx 10.00 am.

The task of securing the vessel was well underway, hatches were battened down, port holes sealed and water tight doors closed, the mate suggested using the anchor as a sea anchor to help keep the vessels head to wind, the crew battled quickly but calmly to save their vessel, their only thoughts were with the injured men who awaited the arrival of a doctor and Jesse Minns who had not survived. The two injured men were badly burned and in great pain, after receiving medical advise from the doctor aboard the Venus skipper Mayes administered morphine to aid the injured men. The anchor was let go and as it rattled it`s way to the depths the huge waves broke over the vessel, she was in danger of turning onto her beam ends and sinking as the mountains of water cascaded down upon her, but slowly the anchor took hold, and the ferrocious movement of the ship subsided gently as the vessel came round, eventually she came head to wind, the immediate danger was over and the crew and skipper could take time to care for the injured men. The morphine had helped with the pain but the men were getting weaker and it would be a few more hours before any vessel could reach them. A recent message was received by the Hull trawler St Mathew stating that they would be there at 05.00am and true to their word the vessel was sighted shortly before 05.00 about half a mile away. Like all Hull skippers there was rivalry between each other and skipper Mayes of the Arctic Adventurer and Skipper Craven of the St Mathew were no different, in other circumstances they would, have a few words over the radio but keep movement and catch details close to their chests, but this was different, any assistance that was needed would be given without a second thought. Skipper Mayes called the St Mathew explaining he was on emergency power so would keep transmissions to a minimum, they agreed the sea was far too rough to take the Adventurer in tow during darkness so they would wait till first light around 07.30am. Shortly before the attempt to take a tow at 07.00 the Chief and Second Engineer died, the crew had done everything in their power to assist the men and keep them alive untill a doctor arrived, but even in their final moments the doctor was three hours away aboard the trawler Netherley. The mens injuries were far too severe and even with proper immediate medical attention the outcome could not have been predicted, the skipper and their fellow crew members said a prayer for the men, and with a new vigour of determination set out to save the vessel.

The St Mathew was to fire a rocket line aboard the Adventurer which would then be pulled aboard and the huge 3 inch thick warp cables used for towing the nets when fishing would be hauled across, the St Mathew would then take the Adventurer in tow, in principle an easy operation but in a heavy sea and with no power to assist the pulling of the warps aboard the Adventurer this was to be a tricky manouvre to say the least. At 07.30 am on the 9th Dec the crews of both vessels lined the rails as the tow- link was to be attempted, In the gale force winds the St Mathew fired her first two rockets which both fell short of the Adventurer, with her one remaining rocket she fired her last shot, this shot went wide of the vessel, having no more rockets left aboard it was now upto the Adventurer to get a line across, wether by determination or just change in direction skipper Mayes first shot hit the target, the thin wire line had straddled the radio ariels and as the crew pulled the line in it broke under the strain. A second shot again hit the St Mathew but like the first snapped under the strain the third shot fell short of the vessel, with only one shot left between both vessels this was their last chance to get a tow-link aboard. The final rocket shot into the air and landed directly onto the St Mathew, the crew hauled the line aboard and at 10.30 am the vessels had a tow- link established, three hours after the start of the operation. The St Mathew setting a south westerly course for home and began a 3 knot tow into the heavy seas. The Hull tug Workman was on her way to give any assistance needed as was the Frigate Delight from Rosyth, both vessels were due to arrive approximately 10.00pm that night. The crew of the Adventurer were split up into watches, three men were now needed to steer the ship as her powered steering was inoperative, the bosun and mate were given orders to keep an eye on the warp cables and report any sign of chaffing or splintering, as there was always the danger of the tow parting. The crew of the Arctic Adventurer knew their ordeal was not over but the sheer presence of the St Mathew had eased many minds, this was to be even more so when the vessels met up with the tug Workman from Hull and the Frigate Delight from Rosyth, both vessels remained as escorts. A small fire was lit in the fo`c`stle aboard the Adventurer and for the first time in hours the mens minds strayed back to food, Ron Dodsley arraged tea, hot soup and bacon sandwiches for the crew, as the vessels met calmer weather the St Mathew increased her speed to seven knots, when HMS Delight could see things were okay and the Adventurer was out of immediate danger he asked permission of skipper Mayes to leave, Skipper Mayes thanked HMS Delight for her assistance and released her from standby. as the vessels approached Flamborough skipper Craven aboard the St Mathew agreed to pass over the tow to the tug Workman as the sea had now eased and a pass over was possible. Skipper Mayes now snatched 2 hours sleep the first he had been able to get in the trawlers 3 day battle for survival, at first light on Dec 10th the Arctic Adventurer with her flag at half mast was eased into her birth at St Andrews dock Three men had tradgically lost their lives.

At the Board Of Trade Inquiry into the deaths of the three men it was found that the boiler had exploded due to shortage of water, the boiler which was 27yrs old had been originally fitted in the Hull Trawler St Elstan and had been transfered to the St Loman in 1949 while owned by Hamlings. It was found that sometime after the change of watch at 23.00 hrs that fatefull evening the chief engineer Bill Smith had gone to Fireman Rayworth`s bunk and asked for a torch as he was doing a repair, Rayworth asked Chief Engineer Smith if he needed any assistance and when he was told no, he put out his light and went to sleep. Due to shortage of water the starboard furnace had overheated causing a weakness in the metal to split open into a gash measuring two feet six inches long and six inches wide. The terrific pressure released as the boiler split sent hot metal fragment shooting around the stokehold, hot steam and water poured from the boiler filling the stokehold and engine room , Jesse Minns took the full impact of the explosion. It was decided that it would be uneconomical to repair the Arctic Adventurer so she was sold for scrap.

Skipper Mayes spoke highly of his crews actions, without their efforts and calmness the situation could have been a lot worse, each man carried out his task quickly and efficiently as it was given, there was high regard for fireman Rayworth, the mate and bosun, of which skipper Mayes said later "their actions and calmness possibly saved our lives".