Freshspring at Prince's Wharf, Bristol, 1986
|Builder:||Lytham Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire|
|Launched:||15 August 1946|
|Completed:||10 February 1947|
|Out of service:||1977|
|Status:||Laid up awaiting preservation|
|Class and type:||Fresh-class water tank vessel|
|Length:||36.88 m (121 ft 0 in)|
|Beam:||7.47 m (24 ft 6 in)|
|Depth:||3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)|
|Installed power:||Triple expansion reciprocating steam engine|
|Propulsion:||Single screw propeller|
|Speed:||9.5 knots (17.6 km/h)|
RFA Freshspring was a Fresh-class water tank vessel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. She survives in civilian hands as SS Freshspring, the last surviving example of the Fresh-class ships. The last of fourteen ships, she was used to carry fresh water out to larger ships. She is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels maintained by National Historic Ships.
Following initial trials, she sailed to Malta, replacing one of her sister ships which had been sunk during the Second World War. Originally coal fired by hand, she was converted while in Malta to burn heavy fuel oil, with oil burners being fitted in each of the three furnaces in the Scotch boiler. Completing around 15 years service in Malta she was repatriated to the UK, working around River Clyde and the west coast of Scotland for the Port Auxiliary Service. In 1969 she was surveyed and refitted at Ardrossan, then towed to Gareloch where she remained possibly laid-up out of service. In 1977 she was put up for sale and was sold two years later for a Bristol company to evaluate alternative ship fuels, which is where it is thought she was last in steam. Following vandalism and theft in Bristol, which saw the loss of equipment from the wheelhouse such as the telegraph, she was moved to Newnham on Severn where she awaits restoration.
Freshspring's condition has deteriorated while lying on the banks of the River Severn at Newnham. In 2011, two holes appeared in her hull and the plating has now become very pitted. Her machinery is in excellent condition though, with her engine room, steam steering gear and accommodation areas intact, although the galley and officers' quarters have been dismantled. In 2013 a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), The Steamship Freshspring Society, was formed to preserve and operate Freshspring.
The Freshspring left Newnham on Severn on 6th July 2016 for repairs in Sharpness, before being taken to her new home in Bideford.
- Brown, Paul (2009). Britain's Historic Ships: A Complete Guide to the Ships That Shaped the Nation. London: Anova Books. ISBN 9781844860937.
- Colledge, J. J. (1970). Ships of the Royal Navy: An Historical Index:Volume 2: Navy-Built Trawlers, Drifters, Tugs and Requisitioned Ships. Newton Abbot: David & Charles.
- "National Historic Ships UK - Freshspring". National Register of Historic Vessels. National Historic Ships. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
- "SS Freshspring Society - About us". About us. The Steamship Freshspring Society. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
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