Built circa 1944 for the Ministry of War Transport, CONCRETIAN is a ferro concrete barge (FCB) without independent power and a wartime survivor from the D Day landings; she was built to take fresh water to Normandy following the D-Day Landings. Although without independent power, they did have tiller steering. Her number is unknown.
Found adrift off Lowestoft in 1949, she was bought from the Admiralty Marshall by Fletcher’s yard where she was sunk to form a ‘T’ head to their jetty used for the maintenance of RNLI lifeboats.
When the yard changed hands in c.2005, she was given to the Excelsior Trust who repaired her and gave her a new role as a mooring barge, store and workshop for their historical Lowestoft smack, EXCELSIOR LT472.
The FCBs were built to save steel during the Second World War. Unlike the Shoreham Creteships of WW1, they were built of a combination of thin pre-cast reinforced concrete panels joined by in situ ‘beams’ forming a monolithic structure that could be rapidly mass-produced.
Conventional concrete construction in a marine environment demands 75mm of cover over the mild steel reinforcement, giving a minimum thickness of more than 150mm. Here the panels are only 50mm thick yet there are no signs of deterioration. It transpires that the cement used was extra fine and so waterproof that the reinforcing bars are still blue as originally milled. Special spring clips were developed to save labour in tying the reinforcing bars together. These remain in perfect condition and were reused for the repairs.
The water carrying barges were ‘one-use’ vessels that only required 20% of the steel of conventional steel barges, yet this one is still afloat having been sunk more than afloat, and only having been slipped once for repairs, and having never had any maintenance.
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