SB Hibernia

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United Kingdom
Name: Hibernia
Owner: RNLI
Ordered: Frederick T Eberhardt (Everard Shipbuilders), Greenhithe
Builder: Frederick Eberhardt [1]
Commissioned: 1906
Decommissioned: 1937
Status: On permanent display at the RNLI museum at Cromer.
General characteristics
Length: 90.95 ft (27.72 m)
Beam: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Height: 0 ft (0 m) to top of mainmast
Draught: 7.75 ft (2.36 m) distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (keel)
Propulsion: Sail
Speed: 8 knots (15 km/h) maximum speed
Range: 0 nautical miles (0 km)
Capacity: 109 tonnes

The SB Hibernia was a 75-ton spritsail barge built in Greenhithe in England in 1906, and which foundered in the North Sea off East Runton on the evening of 9/10 November 1937. Her crew of three were rescued by the lifeboat, Cromer Lifeboat H F Bailey III ON 777, under the command of Henry Blogg.

The Hibernia was a sister to the SB Cambria which has been restored to full sailing usage, by the 'Cambria Trust'.

Built alongside the Hibernia, and identical in all respects, the Cambria was the last spritsail to operate commercially in the United Kingdom.

The Hibernia was owned by F.T Everard & Co of Greenhithe and was outward bound from Goole in Yorkshire to Sittingbourne in Kent with a load of coal. The vessel had left Goole two weeks before, and until the morning of 9 November had been lying at Grimsby Roads. The Master of the vessel was Harry Couchman, the mate was William Lane and the cabin boy was Harry Couchman Jr, who was the 15-year-old son of the Master.[2]

The weather had been moderate when the spritsail left Grimsby but turned squally. On the run south the weather turned foul and a strong north-easterly gale, with winds up to 60 mph sprang up. The Master, who had command of the vessel for the previous two years, found it impossible to make for deeper water and the Hibernia became trapped on a lee shore, a dangerous situation for any vessel but especially a sailing vessel.

At about 3.00pm she began to take on water and the mate and the cabin boy manned the pumps in an effort to prevent the spritsail from being swamped. At one stage there was more than four feet of water in the forecastle. One of the sails was torn away and was soon followed by the jib. By the early evening the vessel had sprung a leak and become unmanageable and the Master began firing off distress rockets. An unnamed steamship sighted the rockets and sent a radio call for help.

The Cromer Lifeboat H F Bailey III ON 777, under the command of coxswain Henry Blogg put to sea and took about an hour to locate the Hibernia. The position given by the steamship provided great assistance in locating her. The starboard light had been swept away and the port light was not visible to Coxswain Blogg at the angle the lifeboat approached the vessel.

The crew were taken off and the lifeboat, after running before the wind, landed them at Gorleston as it was impossible to return to Cromer due to the gale and high seas.

The SB Hibernia was swept past Cromer with her remaining sails set and one light showing. She eventually caught on the Runton sewer pipe for some hours before beaching and breaking up.

The lifeboat is now a permanent display at the RNLI museum at Cromer.


  1. ^ "Cambria". 18 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Battles Sea at Pump of Foundering ship". The Sunday Morning Star. Wilmington, Delaware: Halifax Media Group. 6 February 1938. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 

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