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Seaplane Tender (ST) 206

Serial No: n/a
Period: Pre-WWII
Reference: n/a
Museum: London
Location: Hangar 1
On Display: Yes

May 31

Following successful trials with prototype vessel RAF 200 undertaken by Aircraftman T.E. Shaw (a.k.a. ‘Lawrence of Arabia’) in March 1931, ordered under contract 104561/31 as one of the speedy (29 knots) and successful 37.5 ft (12m) long 200 class built by the British Power Boat Co. at their Hythe shipyard on Southampton Water, with 104 built (RAF 200-299 and 300 – 303), displacing 4.5 tons. Mahogany hull. Fitted with twin Power Meadows 100hp petrol engines, built for the British Power Boat Company by the Henry Meadows company of Fallings Park, Wolverhampton.

Mar 32

Taken on charge into RAF service with the Marine Craft Section as one of the first batch of eight boats to be delivered to the RAF at Calshot, with her sea trials and commissioning reportedly being carried out by T.E. Shaw. Such high-speed tenders could serve in SBF (Stand By Flying) duties, running parallel to a flying boat as it taxied and took off, carrying tools and fire extinguishers and ready to offer immediate assistance if there was an accident during take-off. Tenders could also tow flying boats to/from their moorings and ferrying passengers for the flying boats.

To ‘Catfoss’, near Bridlington, Yorkshire for service. RAF Catfoss was some two miles inland, but administered the marine craft detachment at the port/resort of Bridlington, which patrolled the nearby weapons range and provided armoured target craft for aircraft from No.1 Armament Training School at RAF Catfoss.

Nov 34/Feb 35

Apparently worked on by Aircraftman Shaw (Lawrence) at Bridlington, including engine work and general overhaul, being recorded in his Workbook.

10 Mar 42

Allotted to 85 MU (Marine Craft Repair Unit) Felixstowe, Suffolk for conversion into a Firefloat, ( at nearby Bridlington according to the record card) becoming FT1, painted red overall and with a Coventry Climax fire pump mounted in the cabin.

Returned to establishment at ‘Catfoss’ (Bridlington) upon completion.

16 Jul 42

To Lough Erne, Northern Ireland operating in support of the Coastal Command Catalina/Sunderland flying boat base at Castle Archdale there.

1 Aug 44

Allotted to 62MU Dumbarton at Mc Allisters’ yard on the River Leven (off the River Clyde), Scotland. (14 Aug 44; Allotment cancelled).

8 Aug 44

Allotted to 26EU at Freetown, West Africa

14 Aug 44

Allotted to 24EU at Durban, South Africa

20 Oct 44

All (possibly nominal) overseas allocations cancelled.

Nov 44

Again allocated to 213MU Dumbarton.

May 45

Received at 213 MU Dumbarton, being maintained there for Coastal Command from 11 May 1945.

31 Dec 45

Recorded on Home Census.

26 Sep 46

Earmarked for disposal through the Admiralty.

Nov 46

Left Dumbarton.

History and whereabouts unknown between 1946 and 1990.


Located in a boatyard at Gweek, Cornwall in dilapidated and heavily modified condition.

Acquired for restoration to Seaplane Tender condition by Mr Phil Clabburn, and restored from the keel up over a three-year period, with new bulkheads, deck, superstructure, engine bearers, transom, new stern gear and running gear.

17 Jul 93

Relaunched from Hythe; latterly fitted with twin Cummins diesel engines.

Latterly owned by Mr Philip Clabburn and operated as part of the fleet of Powerboat Restorations. Photos – Webfoot Spring-Summer 2010 pp. 5, 9, 39.

6 June 04

Along with preserved HSL 102, accompanied by MGB 81, sailed to Normandy with MGB 81 to help commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Photos at sea following restoration – Britain at War Magazine June 2010 pp.10-11.

For sale by 2008.

Latterly moored on the River Beaulieu in Hampshire.

Feb 2010

Purchased by RAF Museum for permanent display.

30 Apr 10

Following preparation work at Bucklers Hard and sea trials at Lymington, planned start of final voyage from Lymington Yacht Haven, Hants, skippered by former owner Phil Clabburn.

Stopping at Shoreham-By-Sea overnight, then to Dover via the RNLI base at Newhaven on 1 May, Dover direct to London (St Katherine’s Dock and Greenwich yacht club) in a force seven gale on 2 May, sailing up the Thames to a boatyard at Shepperton Marina on 3 May, ready to be lifted out of the water and taken on a lorry to the RAF Museum Hendon. Photos during voyage; The Flying M Summer 2010 cover and page 2; model Boats January 2011 pp.34-38.

She arrived at Hendon on 6 May for initial outdoor display, pending display in the Sunderland Hall. Final voyage Skippered by previous owner Phil Clabburn and carrying former RAF Marine Branch crewmen on each stage of the journey.

Reportedly the last occasion on which an RAF boat flew the RAF Ensign on the water.

Photos on external display at RAFM Hendon; Flypast July 2010 p.21; Aeroplane July 2010 p.14; The Flying M Summer 2010 p.2.

15 Dec 10

Moved into covered display in Sunderland Hall in Battle of Britain building. Photo as displayed – The Flying M Spring 2011 back page.

Registered with National Register of Historic Vessels of the United Kingdom 25 May 2010.

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