CHANT (ship type)

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Class overview
  • Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Haverton Hill-on-Tees
  • H Scarr Ltd, Hessle
  • Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Goole
  • Burntisland Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Burntisland
  • J Readhead & Sons Ltd, South Shields
Operators: Ministry of War Transport
Completed: 68
Lost: 18
Scrapped: 50
General characteristics
Type: tanker
  • 401 GRT
  • (in practice many were 402 or 403 GRT)
  • 450 DWT
  • 148 ft 2 in (45.16 m) overall
  • 142 ft 2 in (43.33 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 27 ft (8.23 m)
Draught: 8 ft 5 in (2.57 m)
Installed power: 1 × diesel engine, 220 to 270 horsepower (160 to 200 kW)
Propulsion: single propellor
Speed: 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h)
Crew: about 7
Notes: Double bottom, flat bottom.

A CHANT (from Channel Tanker) was a type of prefabricated coastal tanker which was built in the United Kingdom during the Second World War due to a perceived need for coastal tankers after the invasion of France.[1] Some CHANTs were adapted to carry dry cargos. These were known as the Empire F type coasters.[2]

Although five CHANTs were lost during the war, the majority of the ships saw service post war, lasting into the 1990s.


The CHANT was developed with experience gained by building the Tug, Inshore and Dock (TID). As with the TIDs, CHANTs were built from prefabricated sections which were manufactured at various factories across the United Kingdom. A total of twenty-eight sections made up into a ship. The largest sections weighed thirteen tons which enabled them to be delivered by road. To simplify construction, they were built without compound curves. All plates being either flat or curved in one direction only, with the exception of the skeg at the stern. All joints were welded, with the final 10 inches (254 mm) being left unwelded at the factory to enable final adjustment at joints when the ship was assembled by the shipyard.[1]

CHANTs were designed with a flat bottom to enable them to ground on beaches. A double hull was used to minimise any chance of leakage. Each CHANT had four sub-divided tanks and was fitted with one single mast with two derricks and winches.[1] They were not the most stable of ships, and needed to carry plenty of ballast.[3] CHANTs were assembled at five different shipyards, and launched between February and May 1944.[1]

Some cargo version (Empire-F type) were built with a "Chant" prefix name which add some confusion about the real type of vessel (i.e.CHANT 41, CHANT 14, CHANT 39, and CHANT 49 were all Empire-F type despite their initial names. The cargo version were double bottom but single side. They had two holds and two hatches. Instead of one single mast in the middle like for the Chant version, the Empire version had two mast (fore and aft) and two 1.5 tons derricks. Four Empire-F sold to Canadian owners were modified in order to have a single hold and a single hatch. The trunk on hold number 2 was therefore eliminated.


H Scarr, Hessle[edit]

Henry Scarr Ltd, Hessle, Yorkshire built twelve CHANTs. They were named CHANT 1 to CHANT 12 inclusive. A further twelve ships were completed as "Empire F type" coasters.[1]

Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing[edit]

Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Goole, Yorkshire built nine CHANTs. They were named CHANT 22 to CHANT 28, CHANT 50 and CHANT 51. A further thirteen ships were completed as "Empire F type" coasters.[1]

Furness Shipbuilding, Haverton Hill-on-Tees[edit]

Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, at Haverton Hill shipyard, Haverton Hill-on-Tees, Co Durham built sixteen CHANTs. They were named CHANT 42 to CHANT 45 and CHANT 52 to CHANT 65.[1]

J Readhead & Sons, South Shields[edit]

J Readhead & Sons Ltd, South Shields, Co Durham built only two CHANTs; CHANT 60 and CHANT 61.[1]

Burntisland Shipbuilding[edit]

Burntisland Shipbuilding Company Ltd, Burntisland, Fife built four CHANTS; CHANT 66 to CHANT 69.[1]

Empire F type coasters[edit]

For a brief history of each ship, see List of Empire ships - F.

The Empire F type coasters were a dry cargo version of the CHANT tankers. Due to the success of Operation Pluto, which put a fuel pipeline between the English and French coasts, the demand for CHANTs was not as high as had been thought initially. Although of the same dimensions as the CHANTS, the Empire Fs were 410-411 GRT and 460 DWT. They were driven by diesel engines of 300 horsepower (220 kW) and could make 8 knots (15 km/h). A total of twenty five were built. They were renamed with the prefix "Fabric" instead of "CHANT" while still under construction. All were renamed again before launch, carrying the "Empire" prefix and had a suffix beginning with "F". They were built by H Scarr Ltd, Hessle and Goole Shibuilding & Engineering Ltd, Goole.[2]

Built by H Scarr[edit]

The twelve Empire F type coasters were originally to have been named CHANT 14 to CHANT 17, CHANT 20, CHANT 21, and CHANT 46 to CHANT 49. Renamed with the prefix Empire, they served as Empire Fabric, Empire Fabian, Empire Fable, Empire Farringdon, Empire Fanfare, Empire Faversham, Empire Facility, Empire Faraway, Empire Fanal, Empire Fastness, Empire Farrier and Empire Fathom.[2]

Built by Goole Shipbuilding[edit]

The thirteen Empire F type coasters built at Goole were originally to have been CHANT 29 to CHANT 41. They were renamed with the prefix Empire. They became Empire Factor, Empire Fairhaven, Empire Favourite, Empire Fashion, Empire Fans, Empire Farnham, Empire Farouche, Empire Farringay, Empire Farjeon, Empire Facet, Empire Fang, Empire Fairplay and Empire Fairway.[2]


CHANTs were built to provide supplies of fuel to the Allied Forces in the aftermath of D-Day. Three CHANTs capsized during June 1944 and it was decided to use the Gooseberrys until stability tests had been carried out. CHANT 23 was disabled by a shell in her engine room but continued to refuel other ships. CHANT 26 was driven ashore on a large wave and ended up in a field having passed through a hedge. After discharging her cargo she was dragged back to the beach, refloated and towed back to the UK.[3]



  • On 5 June 1944, CHANT 63 capsized and sank off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire.[1]
  • On 8 June 1944, CHANT 61 capsized and sank off the Normandy beachhead.[1]
  • On 16 June 1944, CHANT 69 capsized off Normandy. She was sunk by gunfire from a Royal Navy ship.[1]
  • On 19 June 1944, CHANT 7 was driven ashore on the Normandy coast and capsized. Declared a constructive total loss.[1]
  • On 5 January 1945, CHANT 68 capsized and sank in Grangemouth Harbour while under repair. Although she was raised on 23 January, it was deemed uneconomic to repair her, and she was scrapped.[1]

Post war[edit]

Last in service[edit]

The MV Fermont (ex CHANT 49), which ran aground in 1991 was the last EMPIRE F type vessel in commercial service.

CHANT 28, which had been sold to the French Government in 1946 was still in service at Le Havre, France in 1981, her name never having been changed.[1] She was scrapped in 1986.[8]

The Succes III (ex CHANT 12), in Rotterdam was probably the very last Chant vessel in service in June 2002. She was scrapped in 2007 in Ghent, Belgium.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. pp. 286–292. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. pp. 222–225. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  3. ^ a b "Fuelling at Sea". Merchant Navy Officers. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  4. ^ "Ships Wrecked Off France". The Times (52197). London. 1 January 1952. col F, p. 6. 
  5. ^ "Ship Reported Sunk After Collision". The Times (55032). London. 17 March 1961. col G, p. 14. 
  6. ^ "Fermont MV [+1991]". Wrecksite. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "Fermont - 1991". Nova Scotia Government. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "CHANT 28". Goole Ships. Retrieved 20 February 2009.