- 1914 - 2008 Steam Pinnace 784
Steam Pinnace 784 was laid down in 1912 by Messrs J.T.Crampton of Devonport. Commissioned for the Royal Navy, she is constructed of copper fastened double diagonal teak boards on elm (some reports claim oak but timber samples are being tested to be sure).
She was completed and was immediately put into reserve, but by December 1918, she'd found her way to Portsmouth and a letter dated 26 July that year approved the conversion of the hull into 'Steam Pinnace 784'. The boiler machinery and fittings were provided by Messrs Mumford and the works, costing £4754, were completed in March 1921.
She returned to Devonport and was used as a harbour launch, working in and around the Navy docks. In March 1929, she is listed as being on loan and working with the anti-submarine defences at the mouth of the harbour. This loan ended in March 1930 and on 19 September 1930, she was assigned to H.M.S. MARLBOROUGH. However, MARLBOROUGH was an ageing ship was paid off in June 1931.
On 8 January 1934, she was assigned to H.M.S. MALAYA for a month or two in lieu of SP182 which was in repair. In March 1934, she was assigned to H.M.S. ROYAL OAK in lieu of SP637 which had been lost. Whilst with H.M.S ROYAL OAK she became damaged, mostly likely as a result of hits from enemy aircraft and was landed at Portsmouth for repairs. ROYAL OAK was deployed to the Home Fleet in Scapa Flow and she was left behind for completion. On 14 October 1939, ROYAL OAK was hit by a torpedo from U47 and 18 minutes later by two more from the same source. Thirty minutes after the first strike, ROYAL OAK rolled over to starboard and sank.
With no commission, Steam Pinnace 784 remained at Devonport and was again used as a harbour launch until 1941. In July 1941, H.M.S ROYAL SOVEREIGN, the Flagship and sistership of ROYAL OAK, arrived in Devonport for re-fit and was assigned to her. She remained with ROYAL SOVEREIGN until 8 March 1943 when it was decided to 'pay off the parent' and she was removed at Chatham. ROYAL SOVEREIGN was transferred to the Soviet Navy and became ARKHANGELSK.
Steam Pinnace 784 remained at Chatham and was looked at for conversion into a "Basin Boat". It is believed that the steam engine was removed in 1959 and was replaced with the current 7.4ltr Leyland diesel engine. It is possible that this was originally in a 'Matilda Tank'. Her current cabin design was built around this time. She had an aft cabin similar to the forward saloon, with three portholes each side and an aft hatch. It was removed for reasons and by persons unknown in the late 1970s.
For some time she lay on the Grand Union Canal in Cowley, nested in the mud, neglected and used as a rubbish store for five or six years. Still afloat, but in poor condition based in Teddington, restoration work commenced in 2008 and in 2011, she was re-registered as Pinnace 784., from her previous name of FAT OLD SUN.
A sustainablity award of £2000 for slipping, corking and remedial work was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships
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