Story of a coaster - Newbury Diesel Company

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Story of a coaster

FT Everard & Co

Just one of FT Everard and Sons coastal steamers

MV Firmity started life as the Empire Fastness, one of a large number of “Chant” vessels produced during the war. The ship was launched in 1944 and was fitted with a British Polar 6cyl 2SA engine. FT Everard managed several ships of  that type on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport. After the war, Everard’s purchased from the Ministry, six of the “chants” built as cargo vessels and two tankers.
The cargo vessels were renamed with the familiar Everard nomenclature, Empire Fastness was renamed MV Firmity and the other five became Fixity, Festivity, Formality, Fortunity and Frivolity as were the two tankers which became Auspicity and Averity.
The Firmity ran a fairly chequered career but lasted until scrapped in 1964.
Along with the two tankers and the Festivity, Firmity was re-engined in 1952 with Sirron diesels type 6G. The Firmity engine was produced as serial Number No 833.

In March 1952, whilst on passage from Seaham at 3:40 in the morning, Firmity was in collision with the Steamer Firebeam .The Firmity  received extensive damage to the port bow. The Firebeam also received extensive damage to her port bow and port quarter.

In September of 1952 whilst the engine was being tested prior to sailing, Firmity's engine seized. As the Polar engine could not be repaired locally, the ship was towed by tug to the Company's yard at Greenhithe for repairs.
It was decided after further examination of the engine that it would not be economical to repair so the old engine was removed and replaced with a Sirron 6 cylinder "6G" type oil engine made by the, Newbury Diesel Co. Ltd., of Newbury.

In May of 1955.  the ship was North East of Great Yarmouth in dense fog with virtually nil visibility when she was in collision with the British Steamer Harfry, who sent a Mayday confirming that she had been in collision and was running aground. This  was confirmed when Firmity radioed to say that she was the ship that collided with the Harfry and that she was holed above the water line but did not require assistance.
The Caister lifeboat was launched and sped towards the Harfry. The salvage tug also arrived on the scene and it was clear that the Harfry had received massive damage to number three hold which included a gash torn in the side of the vessel 15 feet long  and 6 feet wide. As the Hafry was now hard aground, temporary repairs to patch the hole, were carried out at low tide and pumps aboard the tug were used to pump out and refloat the vessel. Harfry was loaded with cement and due to the flooding, a third  of the cargo had set hard and had to be removed before the extensive repairs to that ship could be carried out in Great Yarmouth.
Firmity made it to the harbour of Great Yarmouth and after dry docking, it was seen that  major repairs were required including the renewal of several bow shell plates, some deck plates and frames etc. Firmity also needed replacement anchor and cable..

In December of 1962 just before Christmas, Firmity was put aground on the sands in Par Bay after a shell plate split allowing water to enter. With a full cargo of 400 tons of coal and almost at her destination, the ships master had no other alternative  but to drive her hard onto the sands in Par Bay just west of the entrance to the harbour. Despite the fact that it was Christmas, local welders were found to repair the split plates and make the vessel seaworthy. The Everard's Superintendent arrived on  the scene and In the afternoon a fleet of lorries were driven across the sands and after unloading some 360 tons of coal directly into lorries on the beach, the Firmity was able to refloat at the next high tide, finally entering Par harbour to discharge  the remainder.

The ship was laid up in April 1964 after twenty years service, including that during the WWll conflict, finally ending up at a shipbreakers in Holland where the torches turned MV Firmity, including her Sirron diesel into a pile of metal for the furnaces.

British Steamer Harfrey

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