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Ships built in America and based in England before the declaration of independence of the USA are included under Europe. Modern ships are frequently built elsewhere than where they are to be based. We have placed ships named Suffolk in the region of the world where they were based at the time of their operation, e.g. if it was built in a Japanese shipyard but mainly operates from a British port, it is placed in Europe in chronological order.
The first HMS Suffolk was a full rigged, 1,071 ton, 70-gun third rate ship of the line built for the royal Navy by Henry Johnson at Blackwall Yard on the River Thames in 1678 & launched in 1680.
She took part in the battle of Barfleur-La Hogue during the War of the Grand Alliance in 1692 under Captain Christopher Billopp.
She was rebuilt three times; firstly at Blackwall in 1699, then at Chatham Dockyard in 1718, & finally at Woolwich in 1735; being relaunched in 1739.
In 1741 she took part in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias (in present day Columbia), under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon. This was part of the conflict known as the War of Jenkin's Ear between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748.
HMS Suffolk was broken up in 1765.
The second HMS Suffolk was a 30-gun storeship of 477 tons, launched at Harwich in April 1694. From about 1697 she was officially known as HMS Suffolk Hagboat. A “hagboat” was a Swedish design similar to a frigate. It differed in the shape of the rounded stern, the after part of the ship having the upper part projecting outwards, hence known as “hackebat” in Swedish, from “hack aft boat”. From 1708 she also served as a hospital ship. She was sold in 1713.
Designed by William Bateley & launched at Rotherhithe on the Thames in February 1765, the third HMS Suffolk was a full rigged, 1,616 ton, 74-gun third rate ship of the line.
In December 1778 she was sent to the West Indies, under the command of Rear-Admiral Joshua Rowley from Tendring in Suffolk, as part of a squadron of seven ships that took part in the Battle of Grenada in July 1779. Suffolk Bay (Troumaka Bay) on the island of St Vincent is named after both the ship & its commander. (See also Suffolk Bay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).–
Whilst in the Indian Ocean during the period 1794-96, HMS Suffolk took part in an experiment under the auspices of the Sick and Hurt Board, in which lemon juice was issued to the crew over a 23 week period. When no serious outbreaks of scurvy were recorded, the practice was adopted by the admiralty in the following year. This HMS Suffolk was broken up in 1803.
(See also Karang Suffolk, Indonesia page)
Originally named HMS Sultan, this ship was launched at Harwich, Essex in December 1775. She was a full rigged, Royal Oak class, 74-gun third rate ship of the line of 1,614 tons burthen. Converted to a prison ship in 1797, she was renamed HMS Suffolk in 1805, before being sold & broken up in 1816.
Details of commercial ships are little known before the 19th century, but we have solitary records of three vessels named Suffolk that traded on behalf of the East India Company. The Honourable East India Company itself did not generally own merchant ships, but held a monopoly for all English trade between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The East India Company chartered most of its ships on a long-term basis and these were recognised as regular “East Indiamen”. East Indiamen were designed to carry both passengers and goods and to defend themselves against piracy, and so constituted a special class of ship, among the largest involved in trading.
A ship Suffolk of 499 tons was built as an East Indiaman in 1747 at the Stanton & Wells shipyard at Rotherhithe. The “husband” was Samuel Braund and its first captain was Richard Lewin, Snr, both co-owners of the ship. (A “husband” was the managing owner, akin to a modern chief executive officer, of a ship that was chartered to the East India Company.) Shares in a ship were usually in 1/16th allotments. Samuel Braund remained the “husband” from 1747 to 1760. In 1749 the captaincy was given to William Wilson, already a seasoned officer of the East India Company, who also became a co-owner. Four voyages to India and China are recorded between 1749 and 1761, the first three under Capt. Wilson. On 9 March 1757 the Suffolk was sailing homewards, off the Cape of Good Hope, along with two other Company vessels, the Houghton and the Godolphin, when all three ships were attacked by two French frigates. Capt. Wilson assumed command of the three Company ships and, although outgunned, he was able to repulse the French attack. A print in the National Maritime Museum commemorates this engagement. This earned Capt. Wilson promotion to the position of commodore and commander of all ships and vessels in the service of the East India Company.
From 1758 to 1761 command of the Suffolk passed to Richard Lewin, Jnr. The log of the Suffolk ends on 19 November 1761 when the ship is recorded lying in the Downs (the Downs are a roadstead (an area of sea) in the English Channel off the east Kent coast). All records regarding the Suffolk end in 1761 and she is not reported in the Lloyds first edition in 1764, so it is assumed that the ship was disposed of after ending her last voyage home, particularly since ownership had also been relinquished by Samuel Braund.
Occasionally the Company would charter a ship for an individual voyage, usually employed on special terms. Three such voyages are recorded by two ships with the name Suffolk: one of 377 tons from 1800 to 1802 (see Suffolk - 1799, below); another of 430 tons made two voyages from 1800 to 1803.
However, in the absence of any further information at a time when the records of ships were now well maintained by Lloyds, we wonder if the Suffolk of 430 tons is not a transposition error of the tonnage and a mix up of dates by the compiler of this information (‘East India Company Ships’ on the Internet) for the Suffolk of 403 tons built in Calcutta in 1803 and registered in India (see Suffolk - 1803, below). The records of the East India Company (‘Full List of the Marine Records of the late East India Company’, Cornell University, 1896) only show one visit by a ship named Suffolk and this was in 1801 by that of 377 tons. It seems unlikely that there were two ships of the same name on charter to the Company at the same time. From 1803 to 1805 the Suffolk of 403 tons, based in India, was available as an ‘Extra Ship’, the terminology used when the Company hired an individual ship for one particular voyage when the ‘Regular Ships’ were unable to meet its requirements.
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A sloop of 70 tons built at Harwich. She traded regularly between London, Madeira and Rotterdam, as well as along the east coast of England. She foundered during a storm off Pakefield, Suffolk, on 10th November 1774 en route from London to Gainsborough carrying grocery products.
A ship of 290 tons built in France and originally named the Mediterranean, probably because she was used for trading between London and that sea. By 1764 she had been renamed Suffolk and was used as a whaler by Mellish & Co. in the Arctic off Greenland. In 1771 she was renamed Mermaid. In 1778 the ship was being used as a troop transporter during the American War of Independence. During a storm that lasted three days, on 22 March 1779 the Mermaid was driven ashore and lost at Egg Harbor, New Jersey. She had sailed from Whitehaven, England, bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, under Capt. Snowball with 112 troops, 13 women, 7 children and 13 seamen on board; 103 people perished including the captain and 87 troops. The 42 survivors were taken prisoners by the Americans.
A brig of 260 tons built in Philadephia in 1766. She was owned by James France, a Liverpool merchant and prominent slaver, who was referred to as the ‘Jamaica Merchant’. The ship mainly plied the Liverpool-Jamaica route. In 1782 she was taken as a prize of the Massachusetts privateer Porus (Commander John Carnes) at St Kitts and, thereafter, nothing more is known about her fate (see Ships named Suffolk during the American War of Independence 1775 - 1783, below).
This sloop of 300 tons, built at Whitby in 1764, was originally named the Rachel and was used for trading between London and Jamaica under various owners. In 1769 she was renamed Suffolk. On 29 September 1776, en route to Jamaica under Capt Delamere, she was taken by the American privateer Boston but, the next day, the Suffolk was retaken by the British ship Lucy. The Suffolk continued as a West Indiaman until she was sold in 1778, renamed as the Sally & Betsey and, thereafter, was engaged in the Baltic trade from London to St Petersburg, Riga and Memel. On 10 June 1783 the ship was lost off the island of Laesø, Denmark, during a voyage from London to Stettin.
A brig of 200 tons built in America in 1773, she was owned by Newman & Co of London mainly for coastal trading around the British Isles. In 1784 she was renamed Creamer and switched to the Baltic trade routes. She is last recorded in Lloyds in 1786.
Built on the River Thames in 1764, this ship of 676 tons was originally named the Thames and built as an East Indiaman. She carried out her trading between London and Bombay from 1764 to 1775. She was commandeered in 1776 as a troop transporter on the outbreak of the American War of Independence and renamed the Earl Suffolk. Henry Howard, 12th Earl of Suffolk, was a prominent cabinet minister at the time. However, there is no record of this ship after 1776 and she was not captured or shipwrecked, so we presume she was considered unsuitable for further service and broken up.
A sloop of 60 tons is recorded in Lloyds Register in 1783 and is stated to be British and “old”. She was used on the London-Ostend run. She was last recorded by Lloyds in 1786.
This barque of 339 tons was built at one of the shipyards in North or South Shields in 1795 (vessels built there were registered as “Shields”). Her London owners used the Suffolk on the London to Jamaica run. In 1810 she was sold to Herring & Co. and continued on the Caribbean trade route until 1827, with annual voyages to either Jamaica, Curaçao or Barbados. (These early ships named “Suffolk” indicate the importance of the Caribbean sugar industry to the British economy, in that this trade route was more prominent than was the transatlantic route to North America.) In 1829 the Suffolk was sold to a Hull owner and in 1834 she was bought by Wilson & Co. of Whitby. For the rest of her existence after 1828 the Suffolk was employed mainly in the Baltic trade. Lloyd’s Register states that she was broken up in 1844.
A ship of 377 tons built at Harwich and bought by R. Murray & Co., the first-named being the captain. The ship’s first voyage was on charter to the East India Company from 1800 to 1802 (see Suffolk - East Indiamen, above).
On her return journey from Bengal to London, on 2 March 1802, the Suffolk was driven ashore near the mouth of the River Hayle off St Ives, Cornwall, during a gale. The ship was severely damaged, but 19 of the crew were saved; 2 were lost as they were lying sick in their hammocks at the time. The Suffolk was later refloated and the cargo was also saved.
She then made a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope in 1803. On her return she became a West Indiaman used on the Caribbean trade route from London to St Vincent.
Lloyd’s List reported on 14 June 1805 that the Spanish privateer Vangalure had captured Suffolk with Murray, the owner, on 21 May 1805 en route to London from St Vincent. Lloyd’s Register for 1807 still showed Suffolk with R. Murray as master and owner. However, the entry has the notation “captured” underneath her name, and thereafter no more is heard of this ship.
A ship of 302 tons was built at Southwold in 1804, owned by Crosby & Co. and first used on the Jamaica run and thereafter for regular voyages to the Caribbean. In 1814 she was sold to the Aberdeen ship owner Robert Catto and carried on trading to North and South America. From 1818 the Suffolk was used for the regular transatlantic crossing from Aberdeen to Quebec carrying immigrants and goods to Canada, and returning with timber. In 1822 Robert Catto introduced the more famous Quebec Packet and Aberdeenshire, two vessels renowned for the speed at which they made the regular twice yearly voyages between Aberdeen and Quebec, and the Suffolk was sold. She last appears in Lloyd’s Register in 1821. It appears that she was then converted into a collier for use along the east coast of England; the collier fleet was never registered with Lloyd’s. The collier Suffolk of Southwold is recorded as being driven on shore and wrecked during a gale off Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, on 11 October 1824.
This brig of 88 tons was built at Wells, Norfolk, in 1818 for W. Palmer (later Palmer & Co) of Southwold. She served as a coaster mainly trading along the east coast of England. The vessel was refitted at Southwold in 1840 and its tonnage reduced to 74. She ran ashore at the entrance to West Hartlepool dock in 1852. However, she must have been repaired since she was still on record in 1882 operating out of Sunderland, and was probably broken up in 1883, as she was not registered that year.
The wooden 75 ton steamer Suffolk, together with her sister ship the Ipswich, was built at St Peter’s shipyard in Ipswich by George Bayley, with engines supplied by John Penn of Greenwich, London, for the Ipswich Steam Navigation Company. The Ipswich was launched in September 1825, followed two months later by the Suffolk. After having her engines fitted on the Thames, the Suffolk began a passenger service in September 1826; joining the Ipswich in sailing between Ipswich & London, calling at Harwich en-route. After sailings were suspended during the winter months, the Suffolk (but not the Ipswich) returned to service in 1827, making twice weekly round trips to London.
In March 1828, both the Suffolk & the Ipswich were offered for sale in London. Only the Suffolk was seaworthy at this time & no buyer could be found. The following year, both ships were sold by auction in Ipswich; the Suffolk being bought by Thomas Shields of Newcastle. Thereafter she plied her trade between Newcastle, Hull & Kings Lynn, but was wrecked at the mouth of the River Tyne on 20 September 1830. Her crew were rescued.
Built in 1827, the sailing barges Suffolk Trader (80 tons net) & her sister vessel Ipswich Trader (79 tons net) were built by George Bayley at his yard in St Peter's parish in Ipswich. They were built for, but only partly owned by, Ipswich & Suffolk Trade Vessels, which was formed by Samuel & Henry Alexander, who were shareholders in the Ipswich Steam Navigation Company. From 1827 they offered regular goods carrying sailings three times a week to London, along with as many as twelve other sailing vessels. Later the company name was changed to Suffolk & Norfolk Traders.
The Suffolk Trader was sold to H. B. Varwell of Exeter by 1860 and she is last recorded in the Mercantile Navy List of 1876, so she was probably broken up soon after.
(For details of Ipswich Trader see www.planetipswich.com)
The Schooner Suffolk Hero of 82 tons was built at Woodbridge in 1839 for Amos & Co. In 1844 she was sold to Liverpool owners and operated out of that port as a coaster. The last entry in the Mercantile Navy List was in 1868, so she was presumably broken up that year or soon after.
This brig of 239 tons was built at Yarmouth in 1845 and until 1853 was owned by J.R.Ringrose of Hull. Sold in 1854 to Phillips & Co. she was then registered in the Scilly Isles. On 4 September 1859, the Suffolk was on a voyage from Launceston, Tasmania to England when she was lost after running aground off Tuggerah Beach, New South Wales.
A three-masted sailing vessel of 975 tons made of English oak with teak planking, this Suffolk was built in 1857 at Northam Shipyard, Southampton, for Money Wigram & Sons at Blackwall, London, who used her mainly for their trading voyages to Australia. In 1874 she was sold to H. Ellis & Son. The ship always operated out of the Port of London. In 1887 she was sold by order of the court in Cochin, India, to settle outstanding debts in that jurisdiction. She was broken up in 1892.
Originally named Aline, this 1,023 ton ship was built in 1866 at Port Glasgow, Scotland, for a Greek merchant banker. She was sold to a Hull ship owner & renamed Suffolk in 1869. In 1870 she was sold to the West India & Panama Telegraph Co, London, and converted to a cable ship. She was generally known as the “CS Suffolk” although registered as Suffolk Steel (although we believe this to be a transcription error from the American Register where the construction material is given as “steel”). Her home port was London where she shipped the cable manufactured at Silvertown for laying at sea. The ship remained in the West Indies on repair duties until sold to the International Ocean Telegraph Company of New York in 1874, when the vessel was renamed CS Professor Morse. Used as a cable repair ship on both Atlantic and Cuban cables until 1883, she was then sold to the Plymouth Steamship Co. of New York, & refitted as a cargo steamship under the name Professor Morse. She continued as a cargo ship for various American companies until being broken up in December 1901 in Oakland, California.
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A steam paddle tug of 53 tons named Fiery Cross was built by R & H Green at Blackwall, London, in 1867 and delivered to the Caledonian Steam Towing Co. to operate as a Thames tug. In 1873 she was sold to J & G Haslip of Limehouse and renamed Suffolk. She was still working in 1885 and was scrapped before 1888.
This fishing vessel of 33 tons was built in 1878 at Southtown, Yarmouth, for John H. Fellows & Co. She was still operating from Yarmouth in 1897, but was no longer registered from 1898, and is presumed to have been sold for breaking up.
A steamship of 90 tons built at London for the Great Eastern Railway (GER) and used at Harwich from 1881 to 1883 is recorded in the Mercantile Navy List. The GER disposed of her in 1884, but whether she was sold or scrapped is unclear.
Built in 1882 by R & H Green of Blackwall, London, this 2,924 ton Schooner rigged, three masted iron steamer was owned by Atlantic Transport Line & managed by Messrs Hooper, Murrell & Williams Co of London, who set up one-ship companies for each of their vessels; in this instance the Suffolk Steamship Company. Launched in December 1882, the SS Suffolk began a regular transatlantic service in 1883 between London and Baltimore, Maryland.
On 28th September 1886, the Suffolk was wrecked off The Lizard, Cornwall on her way back to London with a cargo of tobacco, wheat, flour & 161 head of cattle, together with two passengers. She was under the command of Captain William Henry Williams. Having sustained slight damage in bad weather off the Scilly Isles, she was making her way through fog off the Cornish coast when she hit the rocks at 6 knots. The crew & passengers, numbering around forty, were all rescued by the lifeboats from Lizard & Cadgwith. A salvage operation was soon organised, but owing to the continued bad weather,very few of the cattle could be saved. By 4th October the hulk of the Suffolk had broken up, capsized & sunk.
SS Suffolk on the rocks at The Lizard
This Cargo ship of 3,303 tons was built by Ramage & Ferguson, Leith for M.Wigram & Sons in 1889. She was sold to F.Prats & Co in 1894 & renamed Berenguer El Grande. She underwent a further name change to Giacomo in 1911 & was broken up at Genoa, Italy in that same year.
The paddle steamer PS Suffolk of 245 tons was built by Earles of Hull for the Great Eastern Railway (GER) in 1895, to run an excursion service on the River Orwell from Ipswich. She was joined the following year by the Essex &, in 1900, by the Norfolk. She was used as a picket ship during the First World War, before returning to her pre-war service in 1919. The PS Suffolk was acquired by the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923 & based at Harwich. She was sold to a Dutch company in 1930 and taken to the Netherlands where she was broken up in 1931.
This passenger/cargo ship of 5,364 tons was built at Sunderland in 1899 for Birt Trinder Bethell. She was wrecked on rocks at Klippin Point, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 23 September 1900. The 129 passengers and crew were all saved. The captain and officers were found to be negligent in their navigation.
No details of this vessel have so far come to light, other than that she was wrecked in the North Atlantic in 1899.
This SS Suffolk was built at the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland in 1902. She was a 7,573 gross ton twin screw ship with a carrying capacity of 224 passengers, and a speed of 13 knots. The Suffolk was originally owned by Birt,Trinder and Bethell of London, then from 1911 by Potter, Trinder and Gwyn, but she operated as part of the fleet of the Federal Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. Federal Line obtained a contract from the New Zealand government to run a service between UK-South Africa-Australia and New Zealand, and the Suffolk was the first Federal Line ship to be used on this service when she left Liverpool in October 1904.
From October 1914 to June 1917 leased to the Australian government and temporarily renamed as HMAT Suffolk (HMAT = His Majesty’s Australian Transport). She was used to transport ANZAC troops to the war front in Europe. Five such journeys were made.
In 1920 the Federal Steam Navigation Co. became the registered owners of the Suffolk. She was broken up at Bo’ness, Scotland in January 1927.
This was a typical Thames Barge of 41 tons built at Milton-next-Sittingbourne in 1902. (The rigging of a Thames Barge is referred to as “Spritsail”, the “sprit” being a spar suspended from the main mast at an angle of about 30° from the vertical, near to the mast’s foot.) The Suffolk was still being worked by Eastwood & Co., Lambeth, London, in 1938. She is noted as derelict in 1946 & was broken up around 1955.
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Launched in March 1903, the fifth HMS Suffolk took over a year to complete and was commissioned in May 1904. She was a Monmouth class armoured cruiser of 9,800 tons. Launched at Portsmouth, she was commissioned in May 1904, served throughout the First World War, & was the flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock's North America and West Indies command for a time. Sold for scrap in July 1920, she was taken to Germany & broken up in 1923.
Built in 1900 by Dundee Shipbuilders Co. & registered in Liverpool by F.H.Powell & Co, this cargo vessel of 795 gross tonnage was initially named Faithful, then Thoughtful (1906), before becoming Suffolk Coast in 1908. After being sold in 1911, she went through more changes of name; becoming Astra (1911), Elvington (1923) & finally Kyle Bute in 1934 for various owners. From 1913 to 1923 she was based in Norway before returning to the UK. She ended her days based at Liverpool from 1932, before being broken up at Troon in January 1955.
This motor vessel (88 tons gross, 37 tons net), built at Lowestoft in 1907, was originally named the Spearmint. She was bought by Wilfred G. Lucas who established the County Fishing Co. about 1910 in Lowestoft, and acquired two fishing vessels to which he gave the name “County”: the Spearmint renamed Suffolk County and a new vessel named Norfolk County, both operating from Lowestoft. In 1924 the Suffolk County was sold to John B. Duthie of Fraserburgh, Scotland and worked out of that port. She was last registered in 1933, so was presumably broken up soon after.
This 780 ton cargo vessel was built in 1913 by W Harkess & Sons of Middlebrough. She was owned by Coast Lines Ltd of Liverpool (Powell, Bacon & Hough). She was sunk by the German u-boat UC-17, fourteen miles off Cape Barfleur, Normandy on 7th November 1916.
After the sinking of their previous Suffolk Coast in 1916, Powell, Bacon & Hough had another cargo ship of 870 tons of the same name built in 1917. Again built by W Harkess & Sons, in August 1918 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty & became HMS Suffolk Coast; being used as a Q-ship & collier for the rest of the First World War (a Q-ship was a decoy ship disguised as a tramp steamer or other lone vessel, but actually heavily armed to lure U-boats within firing range). After the war she was moored at St Katherine's Dock in London and open to the public during late 1918 & early 1919. She returned to her peacetime duties as a cargo vessel in July 1919 at Liverpool & was sold in 1939 & renamed East Anglian, before undergoing three more name changes in the next seven years: Kylebank in 1939, East Anglian again in 1940, & finally Sussex Oak in 1946. From 1940 she was based at Lowestoft. She was broken up at Gateshead in March 1954.
From June 1916 to August 1917 the merchant ship Carrigan Head was also used by the Royal Navy as a decoy ship under the name Suffolk Coast. The Carrigan Head, 4,201 tons, was built in 1901 by Workman Clark & Co at Belfast for the Ulster Steamship Co. In August 1917 until February 1919 she was commissioned as an escort ship. She was sold for scrap in 1934.
The London Gazette 8th March 1920 records the award of the DSC to Gunner C W Clarke “For distinguished services in command of the river steamer Suffolk operating on the Kama River.” This “steamer” was in fact an artillery barge towed by the tug Kent as part of the Kama River Flotilla in Siberia in 1919. The Allies were supporting the White Russian leader Admiral Kolchak against the Bolsheviks, and in January 1919 the cruiser HMS Kent was ordered to Vladivostok to relieve HMS Suffolk (see HMS Suffolk -1903 above).
Volunteers were asked to man an oil-driven tug and a barge in support of operations on the River Kama in Siberia. The oil-driven tug was duly renamed Kent and the barge Suffolk, the former being armed with four 12-pounders and manned by a volunteer crew of 24, and the latter with a 6-inch gun and a crew of nine, of which C W Clarke was placed in command. Joining their new “ships” at Perm in late April 1919, where they came under the overall command of Admiral Smirnoff of the Kama River Flotilla, they quickly saw action in May and June, engaging enemy gunboats and carrying out valuable shore bombardments.
The volunteers were now ordered to dismantle their “ships” and off load the guns. Commandeering a locomotive from the repair shop, the resultant 225 tons of material were loaded on to railway trucks, and 37 men crammed into two wooden trucks. It would be 52 days before the exhausted party finally reached Vladivostok on 8th August, when they were taken on board the Carlisle, finally reaching England on 10th November 1919.
This traditional fishing smack of 41 tons was built by the John Chambers yard at Lowestoft in 1920. She was originally a sailing vessel (registration LT 771) but converted to a motor vessel in 1932. The collapse of the fishing market in the 1930s brought the demise of the Lowestoft fishing smacks, and many were converted for use as pleasure craft on the Broads. The Suffolk’s Rose was still registered in 1940, and is reported to have taken part in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. The last record we can find of her is in 1946 when she was fishing out of Peterhead in Scotland, owned by the Oxyvia Fishing Company of Grimsby. The latter company went into liquidation in 1955, so the Suffolk’s Rose was probably sold for scrap during this period of financial difficulty.
HMS Suffolk (pennant number 55) was a County class heavy cruiser of 13,450 tons burthen. Built at Portsmouth, she was launched in February 1926 & commissioned in May 1928. Her motto was Nous maintiendrons: “We shall maintain”.
Prior to the Second World War, she served on the command known as the China Station from 1928 - 1939. In 1939 she was brought back to Europe & patrolled the Denmark Straits from October of that year. She participated in the Norwegian Campaign & took part in the British pre-emptive occupation of the Faroe Islands in April 1940. At this time HMS Suffolk sank the German tanker Skagerak northwest of Bodø, Norway.
Following repairs on the River Clyde for damage sustained by German aircraft bombing, she returned to service in February 1941 & took part in the Battle of the Denmark Strait and was involved in the sinking of the Bismarck.
After serving in the Arctic, she underwent a refit at the end of 1942, before operating in the Indian Ocean until the end of the war. She was involved in the attack on the Japanese naval base at Sourabaya, Indonesia in May 1944, & later that same year took part in the bombardment of Car Nicobar. In 1945 she supported the air strikes on the oil refineries in Sumatra.
After the war she was decommissioned in 1946, then allocated to BISCO (British Steel) in March 1948 & was scrapped at Newport, Wales in June of that year.
The Lord Suffolk was a steel side, single screw, drifter trawler (115 tons gross, 48 tons net) built by John Chambers & Co. Ltd at Lowestoft in 1929 for the Lowestoft Steam Herring Drifters Co. Ltd, and registered LT44. From the 1930s the Lord Suffolk fished out of Milford Haven. On 18 November 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for war service as a minesweeping drifter and renamed Banshee. In 1943, ownership passed to the Saint Andrew’s Steam Fishing Co. Ltd, Hull, when that company bought out the previous owners. The Banshee was retained for naval service until January 1946 when she was returned to the owner and her name reverted to Lord Suffolk (LT44). She was sold in quick succession to J. C. Llewellin (Trawlers) Ltd (1946) and Norrard Trawlers Ltd (1947), both of Milford Haven. In 1957 she was converted from steam power to diesel. In 1970 she was sold to Kilvey Trawling Co. Ltd, Swansea, but continued to fish out of Milford Haven. In 1976 the Lord Suffolk was sold for breaking up.
The “Lowestoft Fishing Tradition” website sets out to provide brief details of every fishing vessel that has been registered at that port since registration began in 1868. Among them is one named Suffolk Rose. This was a coastal trawler built at Woodbridge in 1938 and named Girl Pat II. She was registered with Ipswich as her home port until 1957 when she moved to Lowestoft with the registration no. LT296. From 1967 to 1971 she was renamed Suffolk Rose, and then became Ellen G. In 1980 it is indicated that she was “disposed at Colchester”, but we are not sure whether this means that she was scrapped that year. We can find no further information on this vessel.
A cargo ship of 535 tons originally named Marali, she was built by EJ Smit at Westerbroek, Holland in 1938, before being sold to Coast Lines the following year & being renamed Suffolk Coast. After a further change of ownership she became Melania in 1963, but foundered in February 1970 south of Livorno, Italy.
The second ship called Suffolk to be built by John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank (see Suffolk - 1902, above), she was owned by the Federal Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. Built in 1939, this 11,145 ton refrigerated cargo ship traded between Australia, New Zealand and Europe for the Federal Steam Navigation Company and the New Zealand Shipping Company. She was broken up at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in October 1968.
This 402 ton cargo ship was built as Empire Isle by Henry Scarr Ltd of Hessle on the River Humber in 1941. In 1945 she was bought by Comben, Longstaff & Co Ltd and renamed Suffolkbrook. From 1948 onwards she was sold on & renamed twice more, becoming Fennel in 1948 & Hindlea in 1952, before being driven ashore in Moelfre Bay, Anglesey in October 1959, where she broke in two.
This British Rail Class 99 ferry of 3,134 tons was built by John Brown Shipyard at Clydebank in 1947, & at various times was registered to London & North Eastern Railway (1947), British Transport Commission (1948), British Railways Board (1963) & finally to Sealink U.K.Ltd (1979), where she was part of a 14 ferry fleet, which also included Essex Ferry, Norfolk Ferry & Cambridge Ferry, always operating out of Harwich. Sold to Belgian breakers in 1980 and briefly renamed Max 2 before being broken up in April 1981 at Burcht, Belgium.
Small & Co of Lowestoft, Suffolk is a company that originated in the early 1800s; being named after Captain Thomas Small. In 1989 its name was changed to Suffolk Marine Ltd; the company was dissolved in 2004. From the late 1950s onwards they ran a fleet of trawlers, all of which had the prefix Suffolk in their names. In the 1990s most of their fleet was transferred to an associate company, Britannia Marine plc.
The first six of their trawlers were built by Richards of Lowestoft:
Suffolk Maid: Built 1957, 130 tons, she was sold in 1970 & became Anna Christina, then Putford Falcon in 1984. She was sold in 1992 when she was converted to a pleasure ship cruising from out of Barbados as a “pirate ship” with the name Jolly Roger I (see photo, left).
Suffolk Kinsman: Built 1960, 202 tons, she was sold & renamed Boston Kinsman in 1974. Sold to Italian owners in 1978, she was again renamed, this time as Nuovo Diodoro. She was broken up in December 2010.
Suffolk Warrior: Built 1960, 147 tons. Sank off Lowestoft on 15 February 1969 after a collision with the Dutch trawler Hendrika Johanna; all crew were saved.
Suffolk Craftsman: Built 1961, 196 tons. In 1975 she was sold to Putford Enterprises and renamed Winkleigh; becoming a standby supply ship working in the offshore oil industry. Last recorded in 2015 flying under the flag of the USA, since then she has been recorded as decommissioned or lost.
Suffolk Mariner: Built 1961, 188 tons. Sold in 1974 and renamed Boston Mariner. Subsequently renamed Mariner in 1980 & Ocean Mariner in 1990, after relocation to South Africa.
Suffolk Punch: Built 1961, 197 tons. In 1974 she was sold to Putford Enterprises Ltd and renamed Hatherleigh, still working out of Lowestoft. With the decline of the fishing industry, in 1983 she was converted from a trawler to work as a service support vessel to the oil industry. In 1992 she was sold to Maritime Experiences in Scarborough, where she became a tourist attraction, and soon after, in 1993, was bought by Pindar Ltd to be used as a yacht race support, training and corporate hospitality vessel. She became ‘legendary’ for the parties on board. In 2004 Hatherleigh sailed 1,000 miles to rescue Transatlantic Race skipper Jean-Pierre Dick and his yacht Virbac which had been dis-masted in the mid Atlantic and towed them back to the UK. This is thought to be the longest tow in yacht racing history. In 2009 sold first to Dalby Offshore and then the same year to Scarborough Sub-Aqua Club. She was used for diving expeditions and became something of a tourist attraction being used for meetings, events and training sessions. As one of the last of the sidewinder trawlers still afloat, the Hatherleigh is recognised as a National Historic Ship. The side-winders pulled their catch in from over the side of the ship while modern stern trawlers pull their catch in from the stern, which is less dangerous for the crew. In 2013 she was sold to a wine trading company in Malta, and is being refurbished with the aim of reverting to her original name of Suffolk Punch as a corporate hospitality vessel.
Suffolk Enterprise: Built at Vosper Shipyards, Portsmouth, in 1957, as Boston Vanguard, 170 tons, for the Boston Deep Sea Fishing Company. Sold to French company and renamed Imprevu of La Rochelle in 1962. Bought by Small & Co in 1965 and renamed Suffolk Enterprise. Became St James when bought by the Colne Group in 1975 and continued as a trawler from Lowestoft, but later converted to a standby safety vessel. Broken up in 1986.
After this, two trawlers built by Cochrane & Sons of Selby were acquired:
Suffolk Craftsman: Another vessel of this name, 302 tons, was originally built as Priscillian in 1961 for the Dominion Steam Fishing Co., Grimsby. She was acquired by Small & Co. in 1977 and renamed Suffolk Craftsmen. Sold to a Greek owner in 1980 & given the name Ion, she was broken up in the following year.
Suffolk Maid: A second vessel of this name, 302 tons, built in 1961 as Tiberian. She was acquired by Small & Co in 1979, when she became Suffolk Maid. Sold to J Elmour in 1981, she still retained the name until she was deliberately scuttled in Butler Bay off Frederiksted in the US Virgin Islands in December 1985, where she has become a diving attraction.
There then followed six vessels built at Appledore shipyards in Devon:
Suffolk Sentinel: Built in 1967 as the Constance Banks, 255 tons, she was bought by Small & Co. in 1971 and renamed Suffolk Sentinel in 1982 when she was converted to a standby safety vessel. Sold by Small & Co. in 1987 to Tarkis Fisheries at Lowestoft and reverted to a trawler. She was renamed North Coast in 1992 when she changed owners & her home port was transferred from Lowestoft to Ayr in Scotland. Changed owners again in 1996 and rebuilt to 352 tons. Still based at Ayr.
Suffolk Venturer: Built in 1967, 362 tons, this trawler was used as a standby safety vessel from 1982 to 1987, after which she was sold to Tarkis Fisheries in Lowestoft & renamed South Coast in 1993. She changed owners & names again to Gran Sol in 2004 & then Gorilero in 2007, when she came under Spanish ownership. Since 2007 this trawler has been banned from fishing in the North Atlantic because of consistently exceeding her quota, which was then extended to the South Atlantic and Mediterranean because of the use of illegal nets. Her whereabouts in 2015 were unknown.
Suffolk Challenger: Built 1968, 255 tons. Sold to Spanish owners in September 1986. Name changed to Jer Dos from 1990 to 1995. This ship had been detained in port in Spain since 2005 because of continually exceeding her quota limits. In 2011 she was re-registered as Marzak based in the Tunisian port of Tabarka. In May 2018 she was spotted inactive and rusting away in that port (see photograph where the old ‘Suffolk’ name can just be seen embossed in the steel hull. Elsewhere, ‘Marzak’ is painted over the name in Arabic script.)
Suffolk Chieftain: Built 1968, 255 tons, rebuilt to 400 tons in 1994. Sister ship to Suffolk Challenger. Sold by Small & Co in 1987 and passed through various British owners until 2007 when sold to Spanish owners Pescacariño SA of Corunna; she is still operating out of that port.
Suffolk Crusader: Built 1968, 255 tons. When sold in 1990 renamed Regina. Sold again in 1995 and renamed North Sea Coast. Cited in 2006 as a vessel using illegal nets for fishing, and was decommissioned. Finally broken up in 2013.
Suffolk Endeavour: Built 1968, 341 tons, this vessel was sold by Small & Co. and used alternately as a trawler, standby safety vessel & ocean research vessel between 1976 & 1987. She returned to fishing in 1987 & in her later years worked out of Corunna for her Spanish owners. She was broken up in September 2008.
During the 1970s, there were four trawlers built by Cubow of Woolwich, as follows. All four later became emergency & rescue response vessels in the North Sea operated under a joint agreement between Vroon Offshore Safety Ltd (VOS) based at Aberdeen, and Boston Putford Offshore Safety Ltd (BPOS) based at Lowestoft. When the agreement ended in 2011, two of the three remaining vessels remained with VOS, and one went to BPOS:
Suffolk Harvester: (See photo, left) Built 1972, 433 tons, she was chartered as a minesweeper for the Royal Naval Reserve & renamed Venturer in 1979, but reverted to Suffolk Harvester when returned to Small & Co. in 1983, & converted into a standby safety vessel the next year. She was transferred & renamed Britannia Harvester in 1990 & later underwent further name changes to VOS Harvester in 2009 & BPOS Harvester in 2011.
Suffolk Monarch: Built 1973, 422 tons, she was chartered as a minesweeper for the Royal Navy & became St David in 1979, reverted back to Suffolk Monarch in 1984 when returned to Small & Co. & converted to a standby safety vessel. She was transferred & became Britannia Monarch in 1990. In 2009 she was sold and renamed VOS Monarch. Broken up at Alang, India, in January 2011.
Suffolk Warrior: Built 1973, 430 tons, she was converted to a survey vessel in 1977, before being transferred as a standby safety vessel & becoming Britannia Warrior in 1990. In 2009 she was sold and renamed VOS Warrior. Broken up at Ghent, Belgium, in December 2015.
Suffolk Conquest: Built 1974, 422 tons, she was converted to a survey vessel in 1977, before being transferred as a standby safety vessel & becoming Britannia Conquest in 1991, then VOS Conquest in 2009, before being broken up in February 2011 at Grenaa, Denmark.
Suffolk Enterprise: Built in 1966 by J Bolson & Son at Hamworthy, Dorset, this 677 ton offshore supply vessel was initially named Lady Brigid. Renamed Lowland Blazer in 1974, she became the second Suffolk Enterprise in 1976 when acquired by Small & Co. Sold in 1984, she reverted to the name Lady Brigid and gained some notoriety in September 1989 when she was seized at Columbia City, Washington State, by US Customs, & 25 tons of hashish, with a street value of $50 million, was found hidden on board in a false compartment. She was sold in 1993 and became Northern Lady for a short period, but reverted to Lady Brigid when sold again in 1994. In 1997 she was acquired by an Australian company and renamed Ocean Mythology, and is now a research/survey vessel operating out of Brisbane.
Suffolk Blazer: This was an offshore supply ship of 854 tons, built in 1965 by Hall Russell of Aberdeen. Originally named Lady Alison she was renamed Aberdeen Blazer in 1974, & became Suffolk Blazer in 1976 when bought by Small & Co. In 1987 she was sold & became Dawn Blazer, & in 1993 was converted to a research vessel and was renamed Putford Blazer in 1994. In 1995 she was sold to Seaquest Explorers (Africa) Ltd and renamed Sea King. Seaquest Explorers were planning to run exclusive diving holidays to Zanzibar but went bust in 1998. Their asset, the vessel, was sold to Vesuvius Shipping in 1999 and registered in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. However, she lay idle at Penzance for 12 years before being acquired for oceanographic research in 2010 by her new owners, Management Silvership Maritime Group of Malaysia, & she is now registered in Kiribati as My Lady Norma I. In September 2010 she was due to sail to Malaysia, where she was intended to go into dry dock for a refit, but it was found that she had no workable engine. New parts finally arrived, but as at November 2011 the ship had only managed to sail from Penzance to Falmouth. She finally departed Cornwall in June 2012 and now operates out of Malaysia as a research and survey vessel.
Suffolk Kinsman: This 708 ton Australian built tug/supply ship was built by Adelaide Ship Construction International and launched at Port Adelaide in 1969 as Cook Shore. She was sold to Small & Co. in 1978 & became the second Suffolk Kinsman. Sold by Small & Co. in 1986, she has since been renamed on five further occasions; Eurosalve 2 in 1986, Eurosalve II in 1990, Cornishman in 1990, Putford Snipe in 1991, when she was converted to a platform supply ship of 755 tons, & Stella Dena in 1996. She was broken up in the USA in January 2003.
There were four vessels built in the 1980s; one trawler & three tug/supply vessels:
Suffolk Champion: A trawler, 313 tons, built by Richards at their Great Yarmouth yard in 1980. Converted to a standby safety vessel in 1984, she was transferred & became Britannia Champion in 1989, followed by four further ownership & name changes to Leifur Eiriksson in 1994, Skude Pioneer in 1995, Thor Pioneer in 2004 & Viking Pioneer in 2018.
Suffolk Prince: Tug/supply vessel of 985 tons, built in 1982 by Clelands Shipbuilding Co of Wallsend. She was sold to Great Eastern Shipping Co in 1990 & renamed Malaviya Seven, before becoming Oil Tempest in 1995. Sold in 2012 & renamed Amoon. Now registered in Iran and works in the Persian Gulf.
Suffolk Princess: Also built by Clelands Shipbuilding Co. in 1982, this tug/supply vessel of 985 tons followed the same career path as the Suffolk Prince; becoming Malaviya Eight, then Oil Typhoon. Reported as being “laid up & inactive” at her home port of Vila, Vanuatu, in 2009. In 2011 sold to Suffolk Petroleum Services Limited and relocated to Port Harcourt, Nigeria, being renamed SPSL Typhoon Service (see Suffolk Petroleum Services Limited section, below).
Suffolk Mariner: Built by Richards of Lowestoft in 1986, the Suffolk Mariner was a 1,432 ton offshore supply ship (see photo, above). She was sold & became Northern Mariner in 1997. In January 2011 she was renamed C Mariner, and is now based in Sharjah operating in the Persian Gulf.
A further two vessels were bought in the 1990s when Small & Co. had been renamed Suffolk Marine Ltd:
Suffolk Venturer: This is an offshore safety ship of 607 tons, built in 1965 by Verolme Scheepswerf Heusden in the Netherlands. Originally named Lady Laura she was renamed Decca Mariner in 1974, then Bon Venture in 1980. She was sold to Suffolk Marine Ltd in 1990 and became the second Suffolk Venturer. The ship was transferred in 1991 and renamed Britannia Venturer. She became just plain Britannia in 2004 when sold as a standby safety vessel for a company in Nigeria.
Suffolk Supporter: Suffolk Supporter was built in Sovik, Norway, in 1996 for Suffolk Marine Ltd . This offshore supply vessel of 1,969 tons was sold in 1997 & renamed Northern Supporter. She was owned by Trico Supply (UK) Ltd of Aberdeen until June 2015 when she was sold as an offshore supply ship to TAG Offshore Limited and renamed TAG 17. This is a company in India, where the vessel is now based, operating a fleet of offshore support vessels for the oil and gas industry.
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This Roll On Roll Off cargo ship of 999 tons was built by Felszegi in Muggia, Italy in October 1965 as Forenede, for a Danish shipping company. She was renamed Suffolk in 1966. She underwent a name change to Nopal Spray in 1974, & reverted to the name Suffolk in 1976, before again being renamed as Nawaf in 1979 when the Danish company sold her to a Saudi Arabian company. She collided with another ship off Jeddah & sank in December 1988.
Built by Cochrane & Sons of Selby for Offshore Marine Ltd, this tug/supply ship of 664 tons was launched as Suffolk Shore in 1967. In 1980 she underwent a change of name to Suffolk Service & then again to Putford Skua in 1984. Converted to a diving support vessel in 1985, then to a standby safety vessel in 1991, she again changed name to Scan Warrior in 2000; at which time she underwent a further conversion into a research vessel of 807 tons. In 2006 she was converted again; this time to an offshore support ship. Her home port remained Rochester, Kent, until 2007 when she was sold to Asian Navigation Ltd and became Asian Warrior; she now operates in southeast Asia.
Launched as Bell Vision in 1969, this cargo ship of 499 tons was built by Bodewes Hoogezand of Holland. She underwent two name changes, to Christina Bos (1971), then Christina I (1972), before becoming Suffolk in 1974. The name lasted only two years however, before she was renamed Windle Star (1976). She has since undergone a confusing number of further name changes & owners: Brora (1980), Charles Cruz (1982), Tarik (1989), Nawara I (1996), Ayatt Allah (1997), Moro I (1999), Batoul M (2003) Lolo M (2003) & Özlem (2004). The Özlem (Turkish for “Desire”) ran ashore near the Black Sea port of Batumi about 2007, and has remained in the exact spot where she “sank.” She has become a major tourist attraction (see photo, above).
Built by Hyundai of Korea for Stena Lines, this Roll On Roll Off cargo ship of 5,466 tons was launched as Stena Trader in 1978, but was almost immediately renamed as Stena Transporter the same year. In 1979 she became Finnrose but, after being widened in 1980 to reach 6,455 tons, reverted to Stena Transporter then became Baltic Ferry the same year. In 1985 a complete rebuild brought her up to 18,732 tons. She became Pride of Suffolk in 1992 after being chartered by P&O European Ferries; sailing the Felixstowe to Zeebrugge service. She retained this name for nine years before becoming European Diplomat in 2001, then simply Diplomat in 2005, & finally Pavilion in 2011. She was broken up at Alang, India, in August 2011.
Built at Rendsburg, Germany in 1983, this 10,544 ton containership was originally launched as Westermarsch, before seemingly being renamed on average around every two years; becoming over the next twenty years Zim Melbourne (1983), Woermann Ulanga (1986), Doria (1990), Zim Uruguay (1991), CCNI Magallanes (1992), Magallanes (1994), CTE Magallanes (1995), Magallanes again (1998), Marcommander (1998) & EWL Costa Rica (2000). In 2002 she became MSC Suffolk, at which time she was owned by Mediterranean Shipping Co (UK) Ltd, whose head office is in Ipswich. A year later, however, she was once again renamed as Marcommander to become P&O Nedlloyd Chekka (2004) & Marcommander again in 2005. In 2009 she was sold to a Turkish shipping line and became H Hasan Turan. Broken up at Alang, India, in September 2013.
Built in Denmark in 1984 for the Maersk Line, this 14,102 ton LPG tanker was originally called Oluf Maersk, before a name change to Sofie Maersk in 1992. She became Maersk Suffolk in 1993, then becoming Suffolk in 2001 when she was acquired by Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd. She was broken up at Alang, India, in March 2011.
Clipper Suffolk is a bulk carrier of 42,887 tons that was built in 2006 by Tsuneishi at Numakuma, Japan & registered in the Bahamas. She was renamed Grand Challenger in 2009 and registered in Panama. In June 2014 she changed ownership again and is now named Olympic Gemini, registered in the Marshall Islands.
This 390 tonne workboat/tug was built at Kocurek Excavators at Ipswich & launched at Shotley in April 2012 (see photo, left). The Suffolk Spirit was owned by Shire Maritime Ltd of Colchester and worked out of Harwich. Deck equipment includes a 200 tonne crane and accommodation is provided for six crew. She is designed for towing, dive support, anchor handling, and as a salvage vessel. Suffolk Spirit was deployed in 2014 working in Liverpool Docks and in 2015 was working at Lowestoft. Sold in March 2016 to Brigg Marine and renamed Forth Drummer, now working out of Burntisland, Fife, in Scotland.
This inland pusher tug made her debut in June 2016 under the name SWS Suffolk, but the tug has been around since 1972.
The SWS stands for S.Walsh & Sons, a leading subcontractor in the construction industry, based at Brentwood in Essex. A sister tug is named SWS Essex. The company has been established for over 40 years, specialising in spoil handling, removal and recycling of materials from construction sites. They have invested heavily into river barges and vessels to move the spoil from various sites in London by river to their facility at Tilbury, adjacent to Brentwood.
The tug was built in October 1972 at the De Haas shipyard in Maasluis, Netherlands. Its dimensions are 13.3 x 6.6m. From 1972 to 2016 it was operated by Dutch companies, being originally named Neptunus 8, then Eerland 3 (April 1986), Thyra (March 2011), and Joyce (July 2015).
Built in July 2002 at the SSW Schichau Seebeck Shipyard at Bremerhaven, Germany, this 27,322 ton container ship is owned by E.R.Schiffahrt, one of the world’s largest managers and operators of bulk carriers. This vessel was originally called E.R.Helgoland until August 2009, when she was chartered and renamed as Safmarine Zambezi. In 2012 she became E.R.Helgoland 8 with her home port designated as Monrovia, Liberia. In July 2016 she was bought by Lomar Shipping Ltd of London and renamed Suffolk Trader. In June 2018 the ship was sold to Shreyas Shipping & Logistics Ltd (SSL) of Mumbai, India, and renamed SSL Krishna for use in that company’s coastal container shipping services in southeast Asia.
A fictional HMS Suffolk appears in the ITV drama series Making Waves.
The HMS Suffolk in question was actually played by HMS Grafton; a ‘Duke’-class Type 23 frigate of 4,900 tons. Launched in 1994, she was named after the Duke of Grafton, whose home is at Euston Hall in Suffolk. She is the ninth vessel to bear the name. She was decommissioned in 2006 & sold to the Chilean Navy in the following year; where she has been renamed Almirante Lynch.
During her time in the Royal Navy, HMS Grafton was ‘adopted’ by the town of Ipswich, due to her frequent visits there; the crew being given the freedom of the borough.
Making Waves was a six part drama series that told the story of the lives, both professional & personal, of the crew of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Suffolk. Created by Ted Childs, the series starred Alex Ferns & Emily Hamilton & was produced by Stephen Smallwood & Philip Shelley. Originally scheduled to be shown on ITV during July & August 2004, due to low ratings figures only the first three episodes were aired on television. A DVD box set of all six episodes was released late in 2004.
Not a ship named Suffolk, but a whole class of lifeboat. As you will see below, although named jointly with our northern neighbour, this class of early lifeboat was actually originally developed in Suffolk.
Originally built as pulling (rowing) & sailing vessels, what distinguished the Norfolk & Suffolk class from other types of lifeboat was the shallow draft (measurement of how deeply a boat’s keel sits in the water when fully laden). The design was intended for use in areas of sand & shingle banks, & this type of craft was ideally suited to the coast of East Anglia, where it was almost exclusively employed.
Lionel Lukin (1742 -1834), who is often credited as being the inventor of the lifeboat (his first purpose built vessel serving for a number of years at Bamburgh in Northumberland from 1786 onwards), designed what was to become the prototype of the Norfolk & Suffolk lifeboat in 1807 at the request of the ‘The Suffolk Humane Society’. At 40 ft long & with a 10 ft beam, this vessel was the first British lifeboat to utilise sails (all previous boats having been powered by oars alone). The boat was built by Batchelor Barcham at his yard on North Beach at Lowestoft, & named the Frances Ann after the Earl of Stradbroke’s youngest daughter. Known affectionately as “Old Mawther” by the locals, the France Ann served until 1849 before being broken up; having saved more than a hundred lives.
Many Norfolk & Suffolk class lifeboats were built during the latter half of the nineteenth & the beginning of the twentieth centuries; stationed predominantly along the coasts of Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex. Many were built in Great Yarmouth by shipbuilders such as Mills & Blake, J.H Critten & James Beeching. Others were built by Thames Ironworks of Blackwall, London.
James Beeching has the distinction of designing the first self-righting vessel, which was to revolutionise the lifeboat building industry; having won a competition initiated by the admiralty in 1851 to design a new lifeboat, as many had been found to be of too heavy construction & in poor condition.
Despite this innovation, however, Norfolk & Suffolk class boats were still non-self righting craft, due to the necessity of navigating the shallow waters of the east coast with the greatest speed. One such was the 44ft long by 13ft wide, two masted Alfred Corry; built by Beeching in 1893. Based at Southwold until 1918, she was converted to a yacht after the First World War & renamed Alba; eventually ending up derelict at Maldon, Essex. After being bought by Captain John Cragie (great-grandson of her first coxswain), she was restored & reverted to her former name, before being returned to Southwold in 1991, where she can now be seen in the Alfred Corry Museum on Ferry Road at the harbour.
Another Suffolk & Norfolk class lifeboat that can still be seen today is the 43 ft James Stevens No 14; built in 1900 at the Thames Ironworks for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) station at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, with money bequeathed by James Stevens of Birmingham. In 1904 she became the only Norfolk & Suffolk class lifeboat to be motorised, when she was returned to Thames Ironworks & fitted with a 40 hp Blake petrol engine which gave her a speed of around seven knots; although her sails & oars were still retained. She then returned to Walton & remained in service there until July 1928; having been launched 126 times & saving more than 200 lives. After this she underwent several name changes & functions, eventually ending up as a houseboat in Maldon, Essex. In 1998 she was acquired by Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust. With restoration completed in 2009, she is now seaworthy & makes passenger trips during the summer months from her moorings at Titchmarsh Marina, around the local waters & up to Harwich & along the River Orwell to Ipswich.
As more motorised craft were built, Norfolk & Suffolk class lifeboats were gradually phased out & replaced during the early twentieth century with other classes of lifeboat.
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Before the advent of the distinctive lifeboat (see Norfolk & Suffolk Class Lifeboats, above), the Suffolk Beach Yawl served this purpose along the coast of East Anglia. The double-ended beach yawls were famous in their time as the fastest open boats afloat. They assisted ships in distress, did salvage work, pilotage and many other tasks. Beach yawls were found from Caister (Norfolk) to Felixstowe Ferry (Suffolk), and hence are often referred to as “Suffolk & Norfolk Beach Yawls”. However, they were largely concentrated on the coast from Yarmouth to Southwold, attending the shipping at anchor in the Yarmouth Roads (a stretch of sheltered waters in the North Sea), and the usual name given is “Suffolk Beach Yawl”. The men who worked the yawls called them “yolls”. Although considered a local dialect word, this is in fact nearer the original pronunciation and spelling. The modern words “yawl” and “punt” were derived from the Dutch language (“jol” and “pont”) in the 16th and 17th centuries respectively. This was a time of Dutch ascendancy in the North Sea, and these terms were introduced to East Anglia which lies opposite the Netherlands across that sea.
Yawls were double-ended. ‘Double-ended’ means having similar bows and sterns, in this case, pointed, allowing them to move forward in either direction. Double-ended designs could operate a rudder from either end so there was no need to turn around, as the photograph below of a Suffolk Beach Yawl shows. Since they were rowed, it made launching from the beach easier in rough weather. The Suffolk Beach Punt (see section below) developed from this design later in the 19th century. Although punts are also clinker-built and have a similar rigging, they differ in that they are transom-sterned (having a square back to the boat) because of the need for more space and to assist in pulling in the fishing nets. Yawls were not used for fishing but they did help to land catches from drifters and trawlers lying offshore, whereas Suffolk Beach Punts were essentially off shore fishing boats. from “The Lowestoft Beach Yawl: An Emblem of Samaritan Service”
(Robert Malster, 2013)
Suffolk Beach Yawls are recorded from the early 16th century. Their crews were organised into “Companies” of up to 100 men for rescue and salvage work. The main centres for these Companies were Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Southwold. Yawls were kept on the beach ready to put to sea at immediate notice towards stranded ships to rescue lives, but particularly to participate in salvage work since each man in the Company shared in the salvage proceeds. This was extremely competitive and the first Company on the scene had ‘first rights’ to the salvage. Thus, it became essential to have a fast boat and crew. A crew of 20 to 25 was usual. Before and in the early days of lifeboats, the yawls saved hundreds of lives and many vessels from shipwreck. At other times the beach yawls were used as supply vessels to carry fish and cargo from the larger boats off-shore that could not negotiate the shallower waters in shore. They would also be used to take pilots out to the anchored ships.
These yawls evolved over a long period and reached the height of their development by the end of the 18th century and remained the same until eclipsed by steam-power in the latter part of the 19th century. The rise of steam power effectively ended the working life of the beach yawls, but another occupation maintained their existence for a few more years. Beach yawls were not originally sailing vessels. However, in the mid 19th century it became customary for a yawl to become two-masted. Reaching lengths of between 45 and 70 feet, and carrying as many as 40 crew members who rowed, bailed, handled the huge foresail, and shifted around bags of shingle for ballast, Suffolk Beach Yawls were said to be the fastest open boats in Europe, having been clocked at sixteen knots off the wind. This gave rise during the late 19th century to racing competitions between the Companies. By 1880 beach yawls were built and mainly kept for racing, with occasional use for salvage duties. The Bittern of Southwold (see model, left), built in 1890, was probably the most famous boat of her type. Competitions waned after 1910 and, by the 1920s, most beach yawls were left to decay on the open beaches.
The original Suffolk Beach Punts that fished in the North Sea off open beaches in the late 19th century were usually made entirely of oak and driven by two dipping lugsails. These boats were used by longshoremen, that is beach fishermen who worked off the open shore. These fishermen took part in various types of fishing throughout the year, both out at sea and near to shore: trawling for shrimps and plaice, long-line fishing, crab and lobster pot retrieval, drift-net fishing for herring and sprat fishing in the winter. Thus the boats had to be versatile enough to sail in different water conditions, both in-shore and off-shore, to be able to hold up well in inclement weather while the nets were set, and easy to launch from the open beaches where they were kept when not in use.
The boats were clinker built so that the planks overlapped and were about 18ft long with a 7ft beam (width), a vertical stern, and a flat sheer line that gave the fishermen good stability when hauling in their nets. The width was carried well forward from the aft so that the boat had good carrying capacity for the catch. The long keel was almost flat which gave a fast run by skimming across the waves. Ballast of sand and gravel was taken on board to preserve stability; this was thrown overboard as the boat filled with fish.
The off-shore fishing industry declined during the 20th century. However, the Suffolk Beach Punt still survives as a family pleasure boat. Boats like this which are light enough to launch off a beach are also light enough to trail behind the average family car. They are ideal as a stable family boat, light enough to launch easily from slipway or beach, can sail well on both lake and sea, and they have enough room for a small family and space for storage as well.
Model of Suffolk Beach Punt Maria, built at Southwold in 1886.
The model was built to scale of 1:12 by Mr L H Foster of Colchester, Essex.
A ‘bawley’ was a small fishing boat typified by a boomless gaff rig, originally found on the coasts of Kent and Essex, about the mouths of the Thames and Medway estuaries. The name is believed to have been derived from the boiler on board, which was used to ‘bawl’ (Essex dialect for ‘boil’) the shrimps immediately after the catch, while sailing back to port, so the shrimps could be loaded onto the train and sent to London as soon as they were landed.
The original bawleys were shrimp fishing boats, mainly based out of Leigh on-Sea, near Southend on the Essex coast, where the shrimping trade in Essex began in earnest from 1830 with the advent of seaside holidays by Londoners. By the 1840s the typical bawley was being built especially for shrimping. The boats were from 28 to 30 feet in length, and had a beam of 9½ feet, a forward deck for accommodation and a boiler on board amidships. The distinctive feature about a bawley was its gaff rig with no boom to the mainsail. (A ‘gaff’ rig enables the fore and aft sail to be four sided, rather than triangular; the ‘boom’ is a spar (pole), along the bottom edge of a sail.) The lack of a boom meant that the mainsails were easily brailed (the hauling up of the sails by using the ‘brails’ - small lines attached to the edges and corners of sails) when working the fishing nets. These craft were expected to last thirty to forty years, and were manned by two to four men.
Bawleys came in different sizes and slightly different designs which gave rise to three distinct makes. Those built around the Thames Estuary were known as the “Thames (or Medway) Bawley”, those built further along the Essex coast were known as an “Essex Smack”, and those built at Harwich and along the Orwell and Deben estuaries were known as the Suffolk (or East Coast) Bawley. The Suffolk Bawley and Essex Smack were smaller overall and more lightly framed than the heavier working craft of the Thames Estuary.
The majority of bawleys were built by the Aldous family of Brightlingsea, but they were also built in Harwich, Ipswich, Southend, Leigh and on the Medway. Some large bawleys were built at Ipswich by Thomas Harvey and Son. There is reason for doubt whether Harvey or Aldous really can claim to be the designer of the type, but the majority came from Aldous.
The Suffolk Bawley was developed from the Essex Smacks as a faster craft and, later, a sporting yacht. Several notably fast bawleys were built at Harwich by George Cann and later his sons John and Herbert. George Cann worked as a shipwright at Aldous’ shipyard at Brightlingsea before leaving to start his own yard at Harwich in about 1868. The Canns were also keen racing sailors and in 1908 they designed and started to build for themselves racing bawleys. These bawleys had more shapely hulls with rounded forefoots (where the keel meets the bow) and a raking transom, i.e. a sloping rather than a flat vertical rear, and were typically 25 to 30 feet in length. The firm of J. and H. Cann closed in 1922, but Suffolk Bawleys continued to be built along the Orwell and Deben rivers in that county. They are still built for racing and form a separate class in competitive sailing.
During 2015, filming for Channel 4’s Time Crashers series, presented by Tony Robinson, was shot on the River Deben in Suffolk at the end of March, when shellfish producers Simpers of Suffolk helped to transport the stars back to 1885 and a day’s work on a Victorian fishery to complete an order for London’s Billingsgate Market. With Jonathan Simper at the helm and crewmembers Ollie Hind and Alistair Shaw at the bow, the actors Greg Rutherford and Jermaine Jenas, clad in Victorian clothes, were on board the family firm’s restored fishing bawley. The Simper family lives and operates a mussel and oyster farm on the River Deben and has old restored fishing bawleys which are still in use. The 1914 Mary Amelia is possibly the only genuine working bawley on the East Coast of England today.
Whereas vessel registration is required for all ships travelling internationally, it is not necessary for travel in coastal or inland waters. This makes it difficult to keep track of the smaller boats and yachts found within national borders. Although some countries require registration of such vessels, e.g. in the United Kingdom there is a Small Ships Register where vessels less than 24 meters (78’ 9”) in overall length can be registered, this information is not available to the general public. However, there are other registers open to the public which provide limited information in certain areas, such as on the canals and inland waterways of England, Scotland and Wales, and on The Broads in eastern England.
Of the 20 small boats and yachts that we have been able to find with the name “Suffolk”, 10 of these are to be found as Motor Cruisers for use on The Broads. This is not surprising since The Broads are a network of mostly navigable rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. There are seven rivers and 63 lakes (Broads), mostly less than 4 metres (13 ft) deep. The rivers and thirteen broads are open to navigation. The Broads Authority was established in April 1989 and has a special statutory authority responsible for managing the area, and it is also the third-largest inland navigation authority in the country. Details of the 10 Motor Cruisers with the name Suffolk follow.
The Suffolk of Stalham: Built 1950 by Stalham Pleasurecraft of Stalham on the River Ant in Norfolk. The design class is known as the Norfolk with a car-type canopy, centre cockpit and an inboard engine. She has four berths. Her dimensions are 38’ 6” x 10’. Up to 1973 she was named The Suffolk of Stalham when she was renamed Norfolk 2, still based at Stalham Yachting Station. In 1975 and thereafter to 1979 she was sold to successive cruiser hiring companies and renamed: Seajade Line (1975-1978), Edinburgh Castle (1978-1979), and from 1979 she was operated by Isle of Skye Cruisers and renamed Edinburgh. She was sold before 1990 to a private owner and renamed Sheila. Sold again in 1992 and renamed Jaron until 1999 when resold and reverted to The Suffolk of Stalham. She was no longer registered on The Broads from 2004, but ended up in Bristol under the same name until 2011 when she moved to Deptford Creek. The present owner bought her in 2013 and The Suffolk of Stalham is currently (2017) undergoing a full restoration at that location.
Suffolk Pride: Built 1969 by Seamaster Boats of Great Dunmow, Essex, as a four berth, two cabin cruiser. The design class is known as the Seamaster 27 with a car-type canopy, aft cockpit and an inboard engine. Her dimensions are 26’ 7” x 9’ 3”. She was sold before 1970 to Coral Craft on the north bank of the River Yare at Brundall and renamed Coral Jacqueline. In 1974 sold to Dawncraft at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads and renamed Dawn Maid. Before 1990 she was sold into private ownership but retained this name. Subsequent changes of ownership resulted in further name changes: Joan (1998); Mother Goose (2003); Whatever (2006). She is still registered on The Broads.
Alcyone of Suffolk: A six-berth, three-cabin inland cruiser, with characteristic raised bridge aft, fixed canopy, dual steering with inboard engine. The dimensions were 34’ 11” x 12’. The design class is known as the Broom 35 European and the builder is C. J. Broom and Sons of Brundall, Norfolk, located on the north bank of the River Yare opposite Surlingham Broad. This family business has been building boats since 1898. It is not known the exact date when the Alcyone was built, but production of this design was between 1973 and 1983. The Alcyone of Suffolk was no longer registered in 1994, and presumably she has been broken up.
Lord Suffolk 2: Built 1978 by Belaugh Boats on the River Bure in Norfolk adjacent to Belaugh Broad. The design class is known as the Solar 37 with a sliding canopy, forward cockpit and an inboard engine. She has 6 to 10 berths. Her dimensions are 34’ 9” x 12’. From 1978 she was named Lord Suffolk 2 and operated by Belaugh Boats. In 1989 renamed Moon Crest. Sold to private ownership in 2000 and given the name Sparky in 2001. Last seen on The Broads in 2007. However, her details were updated in July 2015 by the navigation authorities, so she is still operative elsewhere.
Suffolk: Built 1980 by Bounty Boats, Brundall, Norfolk. The design class is known as the Bounty 44 Mk I with a fixed canopy, forward cockpit and an inboard engine. The boat has four berths. Her dimensions are 44’ 6” x 12’. The Suffolk was operated by Breydon Marine of Lowestoft, and sold privately in 1988. She was then presumably given another name.
Suffolk Prospect: Built about 1989 by C H Fox, Ipswich. This motor cruiser is a Cleopatra/Fox 700. She has a car-type canopy, aft cockpit and an inboard engine. The boat has three berths. The dimensions are 22’ 11” x 8’ 6”. When the Essex Yacht Builders company ceased manufacturing boats in the late 1980s, the mould for the popular Cleopatra 700 model was sold to Fox’s boatyard in Ipswich who continued to market this model for several more years. Little is known regarding the history of the Suffolk Prospect other than she has always been in private ownership. She was registered by the Environment Authority (Thames Region) in 2006 when on the River Thames, and arrived on The Broads in 2013.
Suffolk Lady: Built 2001 by Bounty Boats, Brundall, Norfolk, as Norfolk Lady. In private ownership until 2006, then held by Norfolk Yacht Agency of Horning until sold in 2007. The new owner renamed the boat Suffolk Lady. When she was sold in 2010 the name was changed to Clare Louise. The design class is known as the Renaissance 35 with a fixed canopy sedan style, raised centre cockpit and an inboard diesel engine. The boat has four berths. Her dimensions are 32’ 2” x 12’ 2”. She was still registered on The Broads in 2014. In 2015 she was renamed Harvest Moon.
The following three craft are registered with The Broads Authority as Exempt Rescue Motor Boats. It was recognised that the existing Codes for the safety of small vessels in the United Kingdom were not applicable to these rescue boats as they did not operate on a commercial basis, and their exposure to risk was limited by both the short distances over which they operated, and the limited time over which they were in operation. They are usually “Open Rescue Boats” without an enclosed cabin. They still need certification of compliance with the Rescue Boat Code that provides a suitable level of safety, but otherwise they are exempt from the full requirements applicable to other small boats.
Suffolk Floodboat 1: Manufacturer not stated. Built in 2011 to a standard design for a Rescue One launch. Launches are small craft, without sleeping facilities and limited or no cockpit. Dimensions 16’ 5” x 6’ 3”. Aluminium hull, and white superstructure. This is a rescue and recovery boat, powered by an outboard petrol engine of 60 HP. There is no external propeller to endanger persons in the water. The basic Rescue One is lightweight, portable and fast for inland water Rapid Rescue Response, with the ability to work in very shallow flood water.
Suffolk Floodboat 2 and Suffolk Floodboat 3: Built in 2012 by Avon Inflatables, Llanelli, Wales. These are inflatable rescue boats with a rubber hull coloured red, powered by an outboard engine. Dimensions 13’ 5” x 6’ 3” (See photo, left).
Suffolk Punch: There are four small boats recorded with this name. Since non naval boats should not be registered with the same name as an existing boat, the registration of the earlier ones must have lapsed. However, it is difficult to obtain definite information regarding these, other than for the first one below. This latter is a dinghy, whereas the other three are narrowboats. “Narrowboats” are of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of the United Kingdom, where locks and bridges have a minimum width of 7 feet. Modern “narrowboats” are used for recreation and as homes, where the design and dimensions are purpose built according to the wishes of the buyer.
1. The Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA) is the governing body that oversees all aspects of sailing, both racing and recreational, throughout the British Royal Navy. In 1937 the British Admiralty adopted for ship-board use a 14ft dinghy which was a modified version of one designed by Charles Nicholson and Uffa Fox in 1935. Its purpose was to provide sailors aboard ship with the opportunity to sail in boats other than heavy service cutters and whalers. The RNSA dinghy, or Rensa as it was commonly known, was constructed by shipwright apprentices with all parts being made in the shipwright shop. A clinker built sloop with mahogany/pine on oak construction, the sail rig was a triangular foresail and a sliding gunter main. The gunter rig made the boats suitable for transport on naval ships and their sturdy clinker construction made them ideal for launching from the shore when required. She remained in use until replaced by the fibreglass Bosun dinghy in 1959.
One of the few RNSA dinghies still remaining in 2015 is the Suffolk Punch in the possession of Pat York, rear commodore of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. She was built at Royal Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth, in 1947. Dimensions: 14’ x 5’ 7”. Her passenger capacity is six. In 2017 she was up for sale, so she is still going. She originally belonged to the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook in Suffolk. The purpose of the school was to provide an education to the orphans of seafarers in the Royal and Merchant Navies, and it was once the largest school for navigation and seamanship in the country. It is one of only two UK schools whose students, on ceremonial occasions, have the privilege of wearing Royal Navy uniforms, and senior pupils with responsibilities have naval rank.
2. Registered before 1989 with the Canal & River Trust as a motor narrowboat for use on the Inland Waterways of England, Scotland and Wales. Built by D Atkinson. Dimensions 56’ 4” x 7’. Metal hull. Records updated in May 2013, so still in use then.
3. Registered with the Environment Authority (Anglian Region) for use on the Inland Waterways as a narrowboat with an indoor diesel engine. Dimensions 57’ 1” x 6’ 11”. Built in 2004 by R and D Fabrications, traditional narrowboat builders on the River Maun at New Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. Records updated in July 2016, so still in use.
4. Built in 2012 by another traditional narrowboat builder, Beacon Boats Ltd of Loughborough, Leicestershire, on the River Soar. Dimensions 56’ 6” x 6’ 10”. Registered with the Canal & River Trust. Still in use.
Suffolk: This is a narrow boat for hire on the Yorkshire canals, owned by Shire Cruisers based at Sowerby Bridge. The town is at the junction of the Calder & Hebble Navigation and the Rochdale Canal (restored 2002). It is a significant location for leisure boating, particularly for crossing the Pennines.
Shire Cruisers was started in 1973 with two boats. The present owners acquired it in 1980. They immediately set out to improve the existing craft and finally to build and fit out their own fleet of boats. At present they have 20 narrowboats. All the boats are named after counties. However, they do not use counties that must have ‘shire’ as part of their name, so Wiltshire and Hampshire cannot be used. This gives a limited list, so old names are recycled. The original ‘Suffolk’ was built between 1980 and 1984, the present one in 2016 (see photograph, below). She has a length of 48ft and is fitted with all modern accessories; she has one fixed double (or two single) berths and a saloon that can be converted to double or two single berths.
Suffolk Legend: This is a 37 foot pleasure yacht of four tons that carries eight people. Her owners are members of the Woodbridge Cruising Club in Suffolk, England. Reports of this yacht date from 2011, and she was towed into Levington Marina by the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service ship when the yacht ran into engine problems in May 2013. She was still at the Woodbridge Cruising Club in 2017. Other than that, we know nothing of her history.
Suffolk Pointe: This is a Timpenny 770 yacht recorded in 2011 in the Menai Straits, Wales, and is still registered with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for vessels under UK jurisdiction in 2014/15 as a “sailing ship, one ton, carries five” (see next paragraph below). We assume that the name is used as an advertising medium since “Suffolk Pointe” lightweight sailing shoes are sold to the yachting fraternity (see The Suffolk Pointe Shoe Company - Dance Shoes on the Suffolk Misc. page). The dimensions are 25’ x 8’ with a weight of 1.5 tons. We do not know when the Suffolk Pointe was built, but the “Timpenny” design is of some interest.
The ‘Timpenny’ originates from Australia where it is referred to as a ‘trailer-sailer’ (the latter word spelt this way). This is a term used to describe a sailing boat that has been designed to be easily transported using a road trailer. The ‘Timpenny’ was developed at Tarban Creek, Hunters Hill, on the North Shore west of Sydney Harbour by Colin Thorne. Not being able to find a suitable yacht for his growing family, Colin designed his own boat that had a husband and wife team in mind, and had the following qualities: (1) safety was essential in view that small children would be conveyed, so it needed to be self righting with built in buoyancy; (2) easy to handle; (3) lightweight enough for a vehicle’s towing capacity; (4) beachable, so it could be easily launched; (5) and it had to be suitable for racing (individual use) and cruising (family use). The new design was given the name of Colin’s two young children: Tim and Penny.
The design came together in 1973 and the first Timpenny 670 was launched in July 1974. It proved to be extremely popular, and a couple of years later Colin Thorne designed the larger Timpenny 770. The 770 was designed for extended cruising with a larger cabin and more headroom. This yacht was introduced to the UK in 1979 and the earliest ones were manufactured at Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Two fishing vessels less than 10 metres in length with Suffolk in their name have been registered with the Food & Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as follows.
Suffolk: Registered in Shoreham and based in Brighton in Sussex, this boat since May 2010 has been called Aquarius. Built in 1980 on the Isle of Wight, she has an overall length of 7.01 metres and a gross tonnage of 1.44. She is still operating as a fishing vessel with the identification number SM236.
Suffolk Lad: Built in 1962 at Woodbridge, Suffolk, this vessel had an overall length of 5.35 metres and a gross tonnage of 1.29. The boat usually carried four. Her identification number was IH95. In August 1995 her registration was terminated because “the vessel has changed its activity”. Whether she is still in existence, we cannot tell.
In addition to the vessels above, this next one was registered in 2014/15 with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for vessels under UK jurisdiction that will be operating in international waters, and have a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number which is only issued to vessels fitted with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and/or Satellite Earth Station (SES) equipment. All that is known about it is what is recorded in the register.
Suffolk Trader: Motor boat, eight tons, carries eight.
The term “Superyacht” is applied to large luxury yachts which are professionally crewed. It can be either a sailing or motor yacht. This term began to appear at the beginning of the 20th century when wealthy individuals constructed large private yachts for personal pleasure. Between 2000 and 2008 there was a massive growth in the number, size, and popularity of large Super luxury yachts. This was in the 24 to 70 metre size range. Although these often refer to very expensive, privately owned yachts, many have been built for charter, and are rented out for corporate hospitality and private use by those who can afford such luxuries. Two Superyachts have borne the name Lady Suffolk, although name changes are frequent in this sphere, and neither vessel is now so named.
Lady Suffolk - 1983: The present Superyacht Executive has been named Yahala, Lady Suffolk and Lady Nicole (the name given to the project). Gross tonnage 284. This 37 metre (122 ft) luxury motor yacht was built at the Cantieri Navali Nicolini shipyard and launched in 1983 at Ancona, Italy. In 2000 further refit work and updating was also finished. It has a steel hull, aluminium superstructure and a teak deck. She is driven by twin screw propellers. The main engine of the yacht generates 2160 horse power (or 1540 kilowatts). The combined output for the yacht is therefore 4320 HP (or 3090 KW). It has a maximum speed of 21 nautical miles per hour and a cruise speed of 14 knots, with a range of 2000 nautical miles. This luxury motor yacht is able to sleep as many as 8 guests on board, and has 7 or 8 professional crew. The official registry port is London and her home port is Piraeus, Greece.
824 Lady Suffolk II - 1992: The present Superyacht Caroline Sea II (see photo, right) was formerly named 824 Lady Suffolk II and Only You I (her project name). Gross tonnage 390. This 43m (141 ft) motor yacht was custom built in 1992 by Brooke Marine Limited of Lowestoft, England. She has a steel hull, aluminium superstructure and a teak deck. Fitted with twin diesel main engines, she can attain a high speed of 15 knots. For propulsion the yacht has twin screw propellers. She also has a range of 3600 nautical miles when sailing at her cruising speed of 12 knots. Her total HP is 1880 HP and her total Kilowatts are 1400. She can accommodate a total of 12 people and has 9 professional crew.
The official registry port is Luxembourg and her home port is Antibes, France.
This is a private yacht club based in Lowestoft, Suffolk. It was founded on 9th April 1859 by a number of “boating gentlemen” who met in Norwich and formed “The Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club”. It appears that with the growing popularity of yacht racing it had been found that there were no means of controlling the behaviour of some of the crew that manned the boats. In 1858 on the Burgh Flats the crews of two racing yachts had lashed their craft together and fought out their differences. Accordingly, the new club was inaugurated in the hope of exerting some influence on such occasions, as well as its avowed aim of encouraging yacht building and sailing.
In 1867 the Prince of Wales became Patron and allowed the club to use the Prince of Wales feathers as the club’s emblem on their pennant and ensign (see image, left).
In 1898 the name was changed to the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club after they received a Royal Warrant; or thought they had! At its Golden Jubilee in 1909, the club secretary wrote to the King’s secretary to request a King’s Cup, only to be asked “By what right does this club call itself Royal?” since a minute was produced signed by Queen Victoria refusing this honour. King Edward VII was by then on the throne and, as the club’s patron, not only did he give the club a Royal Warrant but backdated it to 1898.
The RN&SYC was instrumental in establishing the International 14 class and gained a reputation in international competition. It sent the very first dinghy team abroad to compete in an international event. It still hosts World Championship events today.
At first, the club had no real home of its own and it was not until 1885 that a one storeyed clubhouse was built at Lowestoft. This was replaced in 1903 by today’s much more imposing structure. With its many unusual architectural features, the clubhouse is a Grade II listed building, and a superb piece of Edwardian extravaganza. Its facilities, including cocktails and dining, are available to visitors to the adjacent marina run by the club.
Records were not kept in a way which makes it easy to follow a single vessel through its life. Many vessels were captured, refitted and renamed, recaptured, then renamed again. A listing of all known ships involved during the revolutionary war has been compiled by Granville W Hough. There were four that bore the name Suffolk, two British merchantmen and two American privateers, as indicated below.
Suffolk: A British West Indiaman of 300 tons, under Capt Delamere, en route to Jamaica, was taken by the American privateer Boston on 29 September 1776 and retaken by the British Lucy the next day. The Lucy arrived in Cork on 1 November 1776 when the first report of this incident became available, thus this particular event is often recorded as taking place in that month (see Suffolk - 1769 above).
Suffolk: A British ship taken as the prize of the Massachusetts privateer Porus (Commander John Carnes) at St Kitts in 1782 (see Suffolk - 1766 above).
Suffolk: A New York privateer under Capt. Nathaniel Hortonson, 1776.
Suffolk: The most notable of the four was a Connecticut schooner captained by Ebenezer Dayton. This man had a disreputable reputation as a merchant and peddler on Long Island. In 1776 he was commissioned as quartermaster of a regiment and served with distinction. In early 1778 he acquired the schooner Suffolk which was commissioned as a privateer at New Haven. With two guns and seven men, Capt. Ebenezer Dayton began in June when he sailed around Long Island into the Great South Bay and at Blue Point captured three sloops from under the noses of the British. The Suffolk took five prizes in the summer of 1778, and was active in 1782 and 1783; in all, this schooner took 15 prizes. Capt. Dayton retired and took his loot home to Bethany, Connecticut. Unfortunately, many patriots distrusted Dayton, convinced that he was a smuggler and was plundering the homes of patriots as well as loyalists on Long Island. It is impossible to determine the truth in respect to this matter.
A brig of 180 tons built in America in 1783 operated between New York and Liverpool. She is no longer recorded in Lloyds from 1788.
On 14 April 1784 a brigantine named Suffolk under the command of Capt. Peter Wanton, en route to London, struck a shoal within the bar at Charleston, South Carolina, and sunk. The crew and part of the cargo were saved. This may have been one of the two American ships named Suffolk involved in the recent War of Independence (see Ships named Suffolk during the American War of Independence 1775 - 1783, above).
This sloop of 93 tons was built at North Yarmouth, Maine, and was registered in New York in 1795. Other than this registration information, we know nothing of her.
The Ship Registry Act of 31 December 1792 introduced the registration of American vessels. These had to be recorded with the collector of duty in the district in which the vessel belongs at or nearest to where the owner usually resides, i.e. the port of registry. A certificate was issued to that effect to the ship’s owner. There was, therefore, no central register of ships in the USA similar to the Lloyds Register of Shipping in the UK, but registers exist at a district level for this early period from 1793 to 1868. These registers have now been collated, scanned and released for public viewing. The information is basic, i.e. name, tonnage and year of build, and is only entered once on the year of registration. The transfer, disposal, seizure, sinking of the ship or the surrender of the certificate of registration is not recorded.
The Rogers and Black’s Marine Roll of 1847 was the first attempt to list under one cover the names of all of the permanently registered vessels above twenty tons comprising the mercantile marine of the United States, before the Annual List of Merchant Ships produced from 1868 onwards (see note further below).
The difficulty experienced by American ships during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars needs to be understood in reading the following entries to 1815.
Although there was no declaration of war ever made, a conflict existed between American merchantmen and the French from 1793 to 1812 because the latter allowed their privateers to seize neutral shipping to obtain necessary supplies since the French coast was under constant blockade by British ships. In 1806, France passed a law that prohibited trade between neutral parties, like the USA, with Britain. French warships soon began seizing American merchant ships. In 1807, Britain retaliated by prohibiting trade between neutral parties and France. The British began seizing American ships and demanded that all American vessels had to check in at British ports before they could trade with any other European nation. Thus, America was getting the worst end of the deal from both sides. Moreover, the British claimed the right to board American ships and take into custody men who were thought to be deserters from the British navy or naturalised Americans who had emigrated from Britain (if born in Britain, you remained British despite moving to another country). This latter grievance was one of the factors that led to war between Britain and the USA from 1812 to 1815.
The American congress attempted to solve this problem by passing the Embargo Act of 1807 that prohibited American Ships from Trading in all foreign ports. This embargo devastated the shipping industry in America until it was ended in 1815.
This Suffolk, a ship of 203 tons, was built at Braintree, Massachusetts, and seems to have been somewhat unfortunate. She was originally based at Boston with Ebenezer Dorr, a merchant, as owner and Capt. Peter West as her master. In 1793 she was seized by the French and the ship was taken to France. Her cargo was confiscated but the vessel was released on payment to the court by Peter West. In 1795 the Suffolk was sold by Ebenezer Dorr to Peter West who transferred the registration to Georgetown, Maryland (now in the District of Columbia). The same year he sold the Suffolk to James & William Wilson merchants in Alexandria, Virginia, where the ship was next registered. She was used on the Virginia to London route, and along the east coast of America. Peter West tried to obtain reimbursement of his payment to the French under the 1831 Convention between the USA and France, but he was unsuccessful.
On her final journey as the Suffolk she met with singular misfortune. On 10 April 1798 she left Cork; on the 17 April the mate was washed overboard and lost; on 22 April the master (now Capt. Lovell) died; Charles Bridgham took over. On 17 August 1798 the Suffolk was seized by the French privateer Le Dix d’Août and taken to Guadeloupe. On 12 September, the ship and cargo were confiscated by the French for having “incorrect and outdated sea documents” (the usual reason given for stealing another country’s ships). Capt. Bridgham, along with another six masters of American vessels, were held in prison until November 1798 when there was an exchange of prisoners of war. Although news of these misadventures reached London in August 1801, Lloyd’s Register did not remove its entry until 1805.
Whatever happened to the Suffolk is unknown. Being seaworthy, she was probably sold to a French buyer and renamed. This was a total loss to the owners, who were not finally recompensed until 1831 by Conventions entered into between the USA and France to settle such injustices.
This schooner of 93 tons was built at Suffolk, Virginia, and was registered in New York in 1795. It seems likely that she was also registered in Norfolk, Virginia, as a schooner of this name is recorded as being registered there in 1847, but no longer recorded by 1868.
This ship of 275 tons (sometimes shown as 289 tons) was built at Sag Harbor, New York State, and was registered at the Port of New York in 1796. (She is recorded by Lloyd’s Register as “built in America”.) In 1798 her owner was Christopher Whipple, a renowned American privateer during the War of Independence (Revolutionary War), and the next year he obtained a commission to convert the ship into a “private armed vessel”. She was sold by Whipple in 1801 and passed to other owners in New York. The Suffolk was one of the larger ships built for speed operating out of New York to the East Coast ports of the USA and across the Atlantic to Europe. From 1808 Capt. Joseph Rhodes took command of the vessel. He was another notable sea captain and veteran of the Revolutionary War. However, the introduction of the Embargo Act by Congress (see above), prohibiting any American ship to land in a foreign port, left Captain Rhodes’ ship and others tied up in the harbours much of the time, only able to trade between the American ports. After five years of few sea voyages Capt. Rhodes decided to give up the sea and move west with his family. The last record of the Suffolk and Capt. Rhodes in Lloyd’s Register is in 1813. It appears that the cost of upkeep of an idle ship had taken its toll and she was disposed of at about this time.
This may be one of the vessels named Suffolk recorded elsewhere on this page. However, there is insufficient information available to determine which one it may be. A ship named Suffolk departed for Europe in 1798 captained by Isaiah Hussey of Nantucket, so she is likely to have departed from Boston. On 16 September she was seized by the French privateer L’Aventure under Capt. Daguerre. On 21 September she was captured by the British and brought to England. The Admiralty made an award for salvage of £2,785 and Capt. Hussey paid this to recover his ship from the British. Capt. Hussey then tried to sue Jacques Conte, the owner of the privateer, in France to recover this loss. After lengthy deliberations, the Council of Prizes in France dismissed the claim. (Information from “The French Assault on Shipping 1793 -1813” by Greg H. Williams (2009).)
This schooner of 95 tons was built at Boston in 1800 & operated out of Virginia; she was last reported in Lloyd’s Register in 1807. Since this schooner does not appear in any of the subsequent shipping registers in the USA, it could be the one that was lost off the Virginia Capes (See Suffolk - 1801, next item below). It would have taken a while for confirmation to reach Lloyd’s for her to be removed from their register.
A ship of 211 tons named Suffolk built at Georgetown, Maine, and registered in New York in March 1807. She was used on the transatlantic routes out of New York and New Orleans. She was based in New York and owned by Jacob Treadwell Walden (1751-1831), a successful New York entrepreneur and shipper; the community of Walden in New York State is named after him. The Suffolk was driven ashore at New Orleans during the hurricane of 19/20th August 1812, but was re-floated. She was not so fortunate on 15 September 1823 when it was reported that the American ship Suffolk of New York was wrecked on Saint Lucia during a voyage from Demerara to New York. The crew were rescued.
***A court case in the USA in 1813 is described as “Archippus Parish and the Ship Suffolk v US government”. This is undoubtedly the above ship. It is recorded that Archippus Parish was “engaged in business in New York City where he accumulated a handsome fortune in the mercantile business.” Whether he was a shareholder in the Suffolk is not known. The exact details of this particular case are not given, but it was probably one of several that took place with regard to compensation claims on the US Government for requisitions it made for the defence of New York City during the 1812-1814 War with the British.***
This sloop of 34 tons was built at Greenport, Suffolk County, Long Island, in 1806 and plied her trade principally between Greenport and New York. The village of Greenport is within the town of Southold; it was a major port and ship building village during the first half of the 19th century. The Suffolk was commanded by some of the notable captains of Long Island: Capt. Benjamin Wells from 1818 to 1822, and Capt. Silas Tuthill in the 1850s. The sloop continued sailing until 1878, after which year she was no longer registered.
This ship of 314 tons was built at Pembroke, Massachusetts, in 1816 and sold to Benjamin Pickman, probably the wealthiest merchant and shipowner in Salem, Massachusetts, who named her the Suffolk after the county in that state. At that time Salem had the largest concentration of ships in North America, Pickman owning 33 mercantile vessels. The Suffolk was based in Salem and was heavily involved in trade with the East Indies and China, importing silks and tea from Canton in particular. The ship made the occasional transatlantic voyage to Europe, but did not make regular journeys to this part of the world. The Endicott family, prominent merchants in Salem, had a share of the Suffolk; Timothy Endicott and his brother Moses were usually masters of the ship. In 1827 the ship was purchased by Elizabeth Pickering and a group of Salem and Boston merchants/ship owners, but this was short-lived as the Suffolk was soon sold in October 1828 in Rio de Janeiro. It is presumed that she passed into Brazilian ownership and changed her name, but nothing more is recorded about her.
Lloyd’s continued to show this vessel from 1829 to 1833 with Pickering as the main owner and Endicott as the master. Lloyd’s indicates that the Suffolk was surveyed at Cowes in 1827 en route to Antwerp, which it repeats in subsequent editions. However, this must have been a solitary voyage made in that year. This indicates that Lloyd’s was unaware of the sale of the Suffolk, and it was only omitted from the Register when changes introduced in 1834 limited entries to only British registered vessels of over 50 tons.
This sloop of 95 tons was built at Southold, New York, in 1818 and registered at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1819 for the merchant John J. Allan. She was lost at sea in August 1821.
This schooner of 76 tons was built at New York and registered there in 1822. The vessel was not recorded there in 1847 and is presumed to have been lost or broken up before that year.
This brig of 286 tons was built at the yard of Thatcher Magoun & Sons at Medford, Massachusetts. She was under the joint ownership of Joshua Blake, Thatcher Magoun & Francis Stanton and was used for voyages along the American east coast and across the Atlantic. This Suffolk is last recorded in Lloyd’s Register in 1833, still under American ownership; nothing else is known thereafter and she is not recorded in 1847, so presumably was disposed of before that year.
This sloop of 25 tons was built at Babylon, New York, and registered at the Port of New York in 1831. This vessel was recorded at New York in 1847 but not in 1868. We have no further information about her.
This sloop of 31 tons was built at Islip, New York, and registered at the Port of New York in 1838. This vessel was recorded at New York in 1847 but not in 1868. We have no further information about her.
This ship of 518 tons named Suffolk was built at Boston, Massachusetts in 1841 for ship owner J. P. Whitney of Boston. She is last recorded by Lloyds Register of America in 1861 when owned by John H. Pearson & Co. of Boston, the largest ship owner in that city. John H. Pearson started with a line of four large packet ships, the Norfolk, Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex, named after the four counties surrounding Boston. He was a well-known sympathiser of the Southern states, with which most of his trade was, and had made himself unpopular by sending back fugitive slaves that stowed away in his ships. The outbreak of the Civil War thus had an immediate impact upon his business, necessitating the disposal of most of his fleet.
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This steamboat of 266 tons was built at New York and registered at the Port of New York in 1842. In 1846 she was sold and converted to a barge for use in that Port. She would have been disposed of sometime before 1868.
This schooner of 139 tons was built at Lewes, Delaware, in 1844 and was registered at the Port of New York in July 1846. In 1854 she was sold to William B Whitehead of Suffolk, Virginia, (the tonnage was then recorded as 110). She was sold to Frederick F. Smith and registered in New Orleans in 1861, although she was then stated to be 96 tons. She is not recorded in 1868 and is presumed to have been lost during the American Civil War.
This schooner of 250 tons was built in April 1847 at Buffalo, New York State, by Bidwell & Banta for use in transporting foodstuff on the Great Lakes. She appears to have been an ‘unlucky ship’. In September 1848 she was disabled in a gale off Michigan City, but managed to limp to Chicago where she had extensive repairs. Later that month she was driven from her moorings whilst being loaded, incurring further heavy costs. In July 1854 she sunk on the St Lawrence River when loaded with iron bars, but was later refloated. Finally, in a storm on 6 December 1854 she ran aground on Windmill Reef, near Port Burwell on Lake Erie, when carrying flour, barley and pork from Minneapolis to Buffalo. It was not considered viable to refloat her, and the insurers declared her a “total loss”. (They probably decided ‘enough was enough’.) It is believed that Canadians salvaged material from the schooner.
This sloop of 29 tons was built at Brooklyn, New York, in 1847 and operated out of New York City trading along the east coast, and possibly down the St Lawrence River into Lake Ontario (see Ships named Suffolk on Lake Ontario below). She continued until 1907 after which her registration ceased, presumably being broken up soon after that year.
This sidewheeler of 522 tons was built at Oswego on Lake Ontario and may have been used for trial runs for a short time on the lake. However, it seems that it was always the intention to utilise her on a ferry service at New York City. The earliest commercial ferry venture at New Rochelle, located on Long Island Sound some 22 miles north of downtown New York City, was begun by Capt. Richard Hoffmire under the ownership of A. J. Richardson. It was announced in an 1849 poster that: “The Steamboat Suffolk will leave New York from Fulton Slip every afternoon (Sundays excepted) at 4 o’clock. Returning will leave New Rochelle every morning at 7 o’clock. The cost will be 12½ cents.” Presumably the Suffolk reached New York via the Oswego and Erie Canals that connected with the River Hudson, since full navigation along the St Lawrence River was not possible at the time. Newspaper advertisements indicate that the Suffolk also provided a steamboat ferry service around New York Harbour and the Hudson River. Daily excursions to the fishing banks off the New England coast were later provided as a tourist attraction. However, by 1865 the Suffolk appears to have been replaced by another steamboat. The vessel is last recorded in Lloyd’s Register of America in 1869.
Lady Suffolk - During the 1840s a famous trotter of this name in the USA was renowned for her speed and stamina (see Suffolk Misc. page Lady Suffolk), and it became inevitable that the same name would be adopted for ships that had to display the same qualities. We have record of the following four.
Lady Suffolk (Schooner) - 1846: This schooner of 140 tons was built in 1846 by the John Mather shipyard at Port Jefferson, Brookhaven, Long Island. A rebuild in 1868 reduced her to 99 tons. She first operated out of East Dennis, Mass., for the prominent ship owner, S. Crowell, but from 1861 her home port became New York with a change of owner. From 1865 to 1877 the Lady Suffolk traded along the east coast of America, and occasionally to Miragoâne in Haiti, from out of the three ports of New York, Providence, Rhode Island, and Hampden, Maine, under various owners. She was last in Lloyds Register in 1877, and presumably ceased sailing and was broken up soon after that year.
Lady Suffolk (Barque) - 1850: This Lady Suffolk was built at Jonesboro, Maine, in 1850. She was 199 tons and from 1853 worked out of Beverly, Massachusetts, as a whaler. She made six whaling voyages between 1853 and August 1860 when she was withdrawn from service. In 1861 she appears on the British registry at Turks Island in the West Indies. That year she sailed to Bathurst (now Banjul) in The Gambia and from there to Salem, Massachusetts under William H. Tufts (whose logbook still survives). On 3 February 1862 the marine information at Boston, Mass. reports “the arrival of the bark Lady Suffolk from Port-au-Prince”. Thereafter, she was presumably lost or broken up since there is no further record of her.
Lady Suffolk (Clipper) - 1852: This clipper of 620 tons was built in 1852 by Adams, Gray & Son at Baltimore, Maryland. She was notable for originally being a slave ship at the centre of a diplomatic storm in 1852. It seems that the Lady Suffolk was probably built for the purpose of slave trading as she was reported to “run at 16 miles per hour”, thus being able to evade most pursuers. At this period although slavery was still legal in the USA, the importation of new slaves from overseas had been made illegal since 1808. However, it was still legal to import slaves to the Spanish colonies (and Cuba was still a Spanish colony), but the British had long adopted a policy of stopping suspected “slavers” at sea and freeing their cargo. Thus, there was a profitable trade to be had for American built ships that could avoid capture and smuggle in slaves.
The Lady Suffolk was apparently owned by a Henry West of Boston, but sailed almost immediately to Cuba where there seemed to be a change of ownership to a well-known Spanish slave trader called Julián de Zulueta. The Lady Suffolk ceased to fly the American flag and sailed to West Africa to return to Cuba with 1,200 slaves. The American newspapers picked up the story, particularly since Zulueta was a prominent Spanish nobleman and politician in Cuba whose organisation had the Spanish Queen Mother as one of the largest shareholders. Under pressure the Spanish authorities arrested the American captain and crew for “selling a ship for the slave trade”; there was some fraudulent paperwork arranged so that it looked as if the Lady Suffolk had been sold to a Mexican owner, and the British were waiting offshore to apprehend the clipper once she was outside Spanish waters. The complete circumstances surrounding what really happened are still unknown, but the Spanish released the Americans, and as no slaves had been landed on American soil, no offence had been committed under American law. The Lady Suffolk slipped out of Cuba, pursued by the British, and made it to a refuge in Mexican waters (July 1853). It seems that all parties agreed to accept that the ship had passed into Mexican ownership, however fraudulent, and it was renamed the Marietta and stayed in port at Veracruz. The Mexican government took over the ship in January 1854 with the intention of converting her to a man-of-war, named Guadalupe, but this did not materialise. The ship was occasionally mentioned as “the Lady Suffolk rotting in port” at Veracruz over the next few years.
In January 1856 the Mexican liberal government was trying to sell her, but as political circumstances changed and it became apparent that another civil war between liberals and conservatives would occur, the Lady Suffolk was finally converted into a frigate named Guadalupe. On 13 January 1857 there was a severe storm in the Gulf of Mexico which wrecked a number of vessels in the port of Vera Cruz, among which was “the Mexican frigate Guadalupe, formerly the celebrated slaver Lady Suffolk, which was ready to sail for Tampico, that was also lost.” (Reports in “The Times Picayune” (New Orleans), 14 January 1857, and “Daily Alta California” (San Francisco), 16 January 1857.)
Lady Suffolk - 1854: This ship of 1,289 tons was built in 1854 by the J. T. Foster shipyard at Medford, Massachusetts. She was owned by Harbeck & Co. and operated out of New York. She was carrying salt for Calcutta when she sprung a leak on 13th March 1860 and sank next day off the coast of Cascais, Portugal, in the mouth of the River Tagus. The captain and crew (35 in all) took to the boats and were rescued by the English brig Sappho.
This steamship of 512 tons was built by Roosevelt & Joyce at Lower Manhattan, New York in 1860, and named after the county from which she was to operate. This was the ferry service from her home port of Babylon in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. In 1895 the Suffolk County was bought by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for their ferry service from Camden, New Jersey, to New York City. However, she was considered unsuitable and was returned to Babylon in 1896 where she was broken up.
This sidewheeler paddle steamboat of 437 tons was built by John Oades for the E.G.Merrick & Co shipyard in 1845 at French Creek Bay, Clayton, New York State, on the St Lawrence River at the entrance to Lake Ontario. She was originally named the Niagara and was owned by the Ogdensburg Line running out of Ogdensburg on the St Lawrence. From 1848 she was owned by the Ontario & Saint Lawrence Steamboat Company, and from 1850 to 1853 she was contracted to run the US mail between New York and the ports on Lake Ontario. In 1859 she was purchased by the Ontario Steamboat Company at Utica, Ontario. In 1861 the Niagara moved to New York City and came under the ownership of Andrew J. Robertson.
In July 1863 she was bought by the US Quartermaster General’s Dept., renamed the USAT Suffolk (USAT = United States Army Transport) and sent to Ship Island opposite the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. At that time this was the Union base for the blockade of the Confederate coast in the Gulf of Mexico. In May 1864 she was laid up, but in September the USS Antelope came across the Suffolk, abandoned and in a sinking condition. She was towed to shoal water off New Orleans and then, on 7 October 1864, sunk on the flats, where she was later broken up.
Since 1868 it has been a requirement of the U.S. Congress that an Annual List of Merchant Ships of the United States should be maintained by the Bureau of Navigation. The first edition next year recorded five ships with the name ‘Suffolk’. The information provided was limited, only the name, type of ship, tonnage and home port being reported. They are: Suffolk (Sloop) - 1806 (34 tons); Suffolk (Sloop) - 1847 (29 tons); Suffolk County (Steamship) - 1860 (512 tons); Suffolk (Sloop) - before 1869 (23 tons); and Suffolk (Steamship) - before 1869 (284 tons). We show these as separate entries.
A sloop of 23 tons named Suffolk is registered in the 1869 list, with its home port at Yorktown, Virginia. At this time, there was no requirement to provide details of date of construction, the shipyard, or ownership, so we have been unable to trace anything further regarding this vessel. Her registration ceased in 1881.
A steamship of 284 tons named Suffolk is in the 1869 list, with her home port as Boston. At this time, there was no requirement to provide details of date of construction, the shipyard, or ownership, so we have been unable to trace anything further regarding this vessel. An entry in a later Annual List records her as “broken up”, presumably in 1871.
Lake Ontario seems to have been alive with vessels named Suffolk during the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to the two that are definitely known to have been operating on the lake (Suffolk (Schooner) - 1847 and Suffolk (Paddle Steamboat) - 1849, above), there are seven newspaper reports that mention craft named Suffolk from the 1870s through to the 1900s. These are listed below:
The schooner George Suffolk is reported in the Daily News (Kingston, Ontario) arriving at Kingston on 19th June 1872 from Picton, Ontario, carrying wheat, and the same vessel on 20th September 1872 from Oswego, New York State, with a general cargo.
On 12th November 1884 a sloop Suffolk is recorded in the British Whig (Kingston) as arriving at Kingston from Deseronto, Ontario, with lumber and shingles, and departing on the 14th November.
On 27th May 1886, the British Whig reported a schooner Suffolk departing Kingston for Oswego, New York State, loaded with timber.
The schooner D.J.Suffolk is reported loading stone at the Kingston penitentiary for Toronto on 12 August 1891 (British Whig).
The British Whig reported the schooner Suffolk being cleared for Oswego on 9 November 1906.
On 15 September 1910 the British Whig reported that “the schooner Suffolk owned by A. M. Gilbert of this city (Kingston) took fire and burnt to the water’s edge. The owner and crew were ashore when the fire broke out.”
Our research has shown that there was no schooner named Suffolk registered in the Annual List of Merchant Ships in the United States during this period. However, there was one sloop named Suffolk that was active throughout these years, and that is the New York based one of 1847 (see Suffolk (Sloop) - 1847, above). With the enlargement of the locks on the St Lawrence River in 1871 allowing the transit of smaller ocean-going ships into Lake Ontario, it seems probable that this is the ship concerned.
With regard to the other reports, the website Maritime History of the Great Lakes makes it clear that these are all mistaken identities. The “George Suffolk” was the schooner George Suffel. The other vessels named “Suffolk” and “D.J.Suffolk” was the schooner W.J.Suffel. These two vessels were Canadian schooners built in 1866 and 1874 respectively which operated out of Point Hope and Port Burwell in Ontario.
A schooner barge of 855 tons built in 1894 by Robert Palmer & Son at the Noank Shipyard, Connecticut. A schooner barge is a cargo vessel with a reduced schooner-rig, intended to be towed as a barge by a powered vessel but capable of sailing by itself. She worked out of Philadelphia for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company on the transhipment of coal. In November 1894 the steamer Reading, with the barge Suffolk in tow, was involved in a fatal collision with the Gracie H. Benson at Boston Harbor, Massachusetts; the latter schooner being sunk with the loss of six crew. The Suffolk continued in use until 1925 when she was retired and broken up.
This collier of 4,607 tons was built by New York Ship Building in Camden, New Jersey, for Coastwise Transportation Co. of Boston in 1911.
On 11th December 1943, she was caught in a northeasterly gale whilst en route from Newport News,Virginia to Boston with a cargo of 6,798 tons of coal. The steel hulled ship couldn't take the pounding & went down 25 miles south of Montauk Point; the easternmost part of Suffolk County, Long Island. Although six Navy destroyers and three naval tugs were dispatched to the last reported position to search for the stricken ship, all 37 crew and six Navy armed guards were lost. On 22nd December, a naval tug made sonar contact with an object that was at first thought to be a U-Boat, & was therefore depth-charged. Upon inspection of the debris that this produced, however, it was discovered to be the Suffolk.
The wreck of the Suffolk now sits in 180 to 190 feet of water. She is broken in two with her stern resting at right angles to the main wreckage.
A tug of 26 tons named Suffolk was built at Wallisville, Texas, for Cornelius Kroll & Co. for use at Galveston. In 1949 she was sold to J S Gissel & Co. and renamed San Benito, for use in the Port of Houston. She was still working in the Port of Houston for the same company in 1968, but was decommissioned and scrapped by 1973.
This tug of 8 tons named Miss Suffolk is recorded from 1943 working in the port of New York City. Its date and whereabouts of construction are stated as ‘unknown’. Ownership was with the South Shore Contracting & Dredging Corporation, New York. She was scrapped in 1967.
The Tolland-class attack cargo ship USS Suffolk (AKA-69) of 14,133 tons burthen, was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina in 1944. Launched in September of that year, she undertook her maiden voyage to San Francisco via the Panama Canal in December, before heading for the Admiralty Islands, New Guinea & the Philippines. From there she proceeded to Japan where she came under almost daily air attack with the Western Islands Attack Force in early 1945, before returning via Pearl Harbor to the USA, where she underwent repairs at Seattle. She once again left for Japan in June 1945 & continued ferrying cargo & passengers after the cessation of hostilities.
After returning to America, she was laid up with the reserve fleet on the James River, Virginia, before being decommissioned in June 1946 & struck off the navy list the following month. Sold for commercial use in 1947, she changed hands regularly & underwent several name changes over the next few years; becoming the SS Southport (1947), SS American Retailer (1961), SS Alcoa Master (1963), SS Columbia Star (1969) & SS Antillian Star (1971), before being scrapped in Taiwan in 1971.
A dredger of 737 tons was built at Dravo shipyard, Pittsburgh, for the U.S. Government in 1943. This went under the unromantic names of BD–2005 and, later, DA–50–3 LAN, until 1949 when she was sold to the Sound Dredging Corporation and renamed Suffolk for use in the port of New York. She went to the Jersey Contracting Corporation in 1953 and then to the Suffolk Dredging Corporation in 1960, still for use in New York. She was still working for the same company when she was decommissioned and scrapped in 1972.
A tug of 290 tons was built by Bludworth Shipyard at Houston, Texas, and named Suffolk, owned by Cornelius Kroll & Co. for use at Galveston. In 1955 she passed to the ownership of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In 1960 she was bought by the Hamilton Marine Corporation and relocated to New Orleans. The Alter Company of Iowa purchased the Suffolk in 1963, renamed her the Yetta Alter and moved her to Chicago. In 1979 the tug became the Alliance King when bought by Alliance Marine for operations in Chesapeake Bay. There is no report of any further changes, although in 2014 she is still held on record but is stated to have been decommissioned.
USS Suffolk County (LST-1173) was a 7,949 tons burthen, De Soto County-class tank landing ship of the United States Navy. Built at the Boston Naval Shipyard & launched in September 1956, she was commissioned in August 1957 &, after participating in training exercises off Puerto Rico, she sailed on her first tour as part of the 6th Fleet to the Mediterranean in September 1958. After being part of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Group in Lebanon, she returned to the US & took part in the formal opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway for ocean-going ships. After a further Mediterranean stint, she was deployed in the Caribbean during 1961, before being sent to Africa. For most of a decade from 1962 onwards, USS Suffolk County operated along the east coast of America & the Caribbean, & was involved in the relief effort in Haiti after Hurricane Inez struck in 1966. USS Suffolk County was decommissioned in 1972 & placed in reserve. In April 1992 she was disposed of by transfer to the Maritime Administration & laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet on the James River, Virginia. She was sold to Transforma Marine of Brownsville, Texas for scrapping in 1999.
A tank barge of 2,996 tons built for the coastal tanker trade in 1963 at one of the shipyards on the Mermentau River, Louisiana and sold to the George K Hambleton Corp. in 1964 who named her Pittston 100, working out of New York Harbor. A ‘tank barge’ is specific American legal terminology for a non-self-propelled vessel which is less than forty metres in overall length and is constructed primarily to carry liquid, solid or gaseous commodities or cargos in bulk through rivers and inland waterways, although it may occasionally carry commodities or cargos through oceans and seas when in transit from one inland waterway to another.
In 1971 she was sold to the Interstate Marine Transport Co. and renamed Interstate 42 working out of Wilmington, Delaware. By 1974 she had been renamed Suffolk under the same management and continued to work out of Wilmington. We have no further information between 1982 and 2003. In the latter year she was owned by Taurus Marine Inc. working out of San Francisco. In 2006 this tank barge was acquired by the Salmon Bay Barge Line Inc. and renamed TB 278. In 2018 she was working out of Portland, Oregon.
The following two small ships have been registered with the US Coastguard, but we can find nothing further concerning them.
Suffolk Crane - A tug registered between 1996 and 2001.
Suffolk Mariner - A commercial fishing vessel from New York State registered from 2010 and still in service.
If anyone can shed further light on these vessels, please send details to email@example.com
The first dry dock at New Orleans was established in 1837 or 1838. It was built in Paducah, Kentucky, and floated down the Mississippi to Algiers on the west bank opposite New Orleans. The dock was a small affair and it was intended to accommodate river steamboats only. The second dry dock brought to Algiers was built in 1839 by Messrs. Bailey & Marcy at Pearlington, Mississippi, and towed around to the mouth of the river and then upstream to Algiers. It was the first dry dock intended to accommodate ocean-going craft. The first vessel of this sort which used it was the Suffolk, and for that reason the dock became known as the Suffolk Dock. It is not recorded which ship of that name this was, but the only one of which we have record that fits the description is the brig Suffolk built in 1825 in Massachusetts (see above). This was definitely an ocean-going craft and under American ownership when last noted by Lloyd’s register in 1833.
Suffolk Dock was considerably larger than the Paducah built dock. The two docks were moored at the bend of the river, near Seguin’s shipyard. In 1850 Bailey sold out his interest to a local resident, Capt. Salter, and the company became Marcy & Salter. In 1852 the firm of Hyde & Mackie bought out Marcy & Salter, and in 1853 the Suffolk Dock was towed up to Gretna on the west bank, just upstream from New Orleans, where the business was carried on for a while. It is not known what became of Suffolk Dock; presumably it was sold and broken up.
This wooden barque of 231 tons was built in 1863 by the Hutchinson Shipyard at Quebec and named Suffolk. She first worked out of Glasgow, Scotland, for Burrell & Co. In 1871 she was sold to an Australian owner and operated out of Melbourne. She was lost on 29 March 1879 in the Bass Strait off Cape Howe, Australia. Heavy seas caused her to lose her rudder, & she was being towed into port when the line parted. In the impending gale the Suffolk was abandoned; she caught fire and sank.
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Suffolk Petroleum Services Limited (SPSL) is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Adamac Group of Companies, based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which has extensive interests in oil and gas, engineering and marine services in West Africa. Further information on this name can be found on the Suffolk Misc. page, Companies Named Suffolk in Nigeria section. SPSL is involved in oil and gas exploration and production, and operates offshore fields in Nigeria. As such it keeps a fleet of Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessels which are mainly built to handle oil rigs, tow them to location, and anchor them up. They are multi-purpose vessels and also act as offshore tugs, supply ships and, in a few cases, serve as an Emergency Rescue and Recovery Vessel (ERRV). In addition SPSL has several further vessels used for other purposes. The vessels of this company all have the SPSL prefix as part of their name, as below:
SPSL Master: Built in 1972 by Bodewas Binnenvaart, Netherlands; gross tonnage 836. It has had numerous name changes: Smit Lloyd 43 (1972-1986); Smit Lloyd Matsas 5 (1986-1995); Smit Kaylen J. (1995-1996); ASAP, Yelcho (both 1996); Independent I (1996-1999); Dea Master (1999-2000); then SPSL Master from 2000. In about 2005 SPSL Master sank in one of the channels of the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) at the Onne Port Complex on the Bonny Estuary, 25km south of Port Harcourt. She was finally salvaged and broken up in 2015.
SPSL Sarah Service: Built in 1973 by Richards of Lowestoft; gross tonnage 965. Originally Shetland Shore (1973-1981); Shetland Service (1981-2006); sold to SPSL in 2006 and acts as a standby safety vessel (see photo, left).
SPSL Earl: Built in 1977 by Beliard Polyship Scheepswerf of Ostend; gross tonnage 763. Former names: Union Three (1977-1994); Anglian Earl (1994-2002).
SPSL Clara: Built in 1979 by Singapore Slipway & Engineering; gross tonnage 869. Former names: Oil Maintainer (1979-1992); Clara (1992-2001).
SPSL Victoria Service: Built in 1980 by Quality Shipyard, Louisiana, USA; gross tonnage 711. Former names: Gulf Fleet No. 42 (1980-1986); Atlas Service (1986-2006).
SPSL Tiger Service: Built in 1983 by Singapore Slipway & Engineering; gross tonnage 1063. Former name: Oil Tiger (1983-2011).
SPSL Krantor: Built in 1979 by Sing Koon Seng Shipbuilding of Singapore; gross tonnage 847. Former name: Krantor (1979-2000). This ship is mainly used for rescue/salvage work.
SPSL Darnell Service: Built in 1989 at Damen Shipyard, Gorinchem, Netherlands; gross tonnage 106. Former name: Darnell Tide (1989-2011). This is a utility vessel.
SPSL Armante: Built in 1969 by Breaux Bay Craft, Loreauville, Louisiana, USA ; gross tonnage 129. Former names: Puma (1969-1980); Armante (1980-2010). This is a utility and support vessel, reported as ‘Active’ in Nigeria in 2017. She was only owned by SPSL for a short period before being sold in 2011 to Ariosh, a Nigerian company in the oil and gas sector, and reverting to the name Armante. She may have subsequently come under other ownership.
SPSL 300: Built in 1975 at Odense Steel Shipyard, Denmark; gross tonnage 6,084. Former names: Maersk Barge (1975-1981); BOS 300 (1981-2002). This is a Jacket Launching Pontoon, a pipe-laying vessel. It is a flat bottomed boat resting on pontoons that give it a shallow draft which reduces the risk of underwater damage. “Jackets” are covers placed around containers or pipes that are launched into the water.
SPSL 215: Built in 1981 by Sing Koon Seng Shipbuilding, Singapore; gross tonnage 1,793. Former name: Anchorer Fox (1981-1992); BOS 215 (1992-2001). This is a Floating Crane Barge.
SPSL Bonny Service: This offshore supply vessel, gross tonnage 804, was launched as Petromar Titan in October 1982 at Halter Marine shipyard in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Before her completion, Halter Marine was acquired by Trinity Industries and, when finished in February 1983, the vessel was given the name of William Tide. In September 2013 she was bought by SPSL and given her present name. As at 2014 reported as “laid up”.
SPSL Gazelle: Built in 1992 by Gulf Craft at Patterson in Louisiana, USA; gross tonnage 135. Former name: Lamnalco Gazelle (1992-2013). This is an offshore supply ship.
SPSL Impala: Built in 1992 by Gulf Craft at Patterson in Louisiana, USA; gross tonnage 135. Former name: Lamnalco Impala (1992-2013). This is an offshore supply ship.
SPSL Typhoon Service: A 1017 ton (gross) anchor handling vessel. In 2011 the company bought the Oil Typhoon (see Suffolk Princess in the Small & Co - fleet of ships with Suffolk prefix section, above) which was reported entering Port Harcourt that year. In 2012 she was renamed SPSL Typhoon Service, but as at 2014 she is reported as being “laid up”. No flag is listed for her as this change of ownership and name does not seem to have been registered with the IMO. However, her existence under this name and with the SPSL operating group is acknowledged in the “List of Offshore Supply & Support Vessels World Wide, 2017”
SPSL Schaarter Service: Built in 1982 by the J.G.Hitzler shipyard at Lauenburg in Germany; gross tonnage 994. Former names: Red Stork (1982-1988) when owned by a French company Compagnie d’Armement pour la Recherche l’Exploration (CARE) Offshore S.A., based at Marseille. Bought by OSA Marine Services G.m.b.H. in Bremen and renamed OSA 575 Schaartor (1988-1993), then plain Schaartor (1993-2016). Sold to Tidewater Marine, Inc. in 1997 but retained her name, operating out of Liberia, Marshall Islands and Vanuatu. She was sold to an unknown owner from 2011 to 2016 when SPSL bought her and gave her the present name, operating out of Nigeria.
SPSL Opobo: A barge subject to a test-case in the law courts of the United States (see Companies Named Suffolk in Nigeria on the Suffolk Misc. page).
SPSL Northrop Service: Built in 1982 by the VT Halter Marine shipyard at Moss Point, Mississippi, USA; gross tonnage 744. Another Offshore Supply Ship. Little is on record about her early days, but in 2012 she was named Northrop Tide, presumably having been used by the Northrop Grumman corporation who were at one time in the shipbuilding business based at Pascagoula, Mississippi (their shipbuilding subsidiary is now Huntington Ingalls Industries). The vessel was sold to various owners ending up in Nigeria by 2012 where she was acquired by TCO Marine Ltd, boat builders in Lagos, and a company connected to the Adamac Group through the MacPepple family. In 2019 SPSL bought her and, in their usual manner, retained the basic name adding the prefix SPSL and suffix Service.
The British soon realised the potential of India as a source for shipbuilding, especially for the construction of ships of Indian teak, considered to be the best ship timber to be found anywhere, a wood that is strong, resistant to marine borers and has a durability to last much longer in the climate experienced in the tropics. British entrepreneurs soon established shipyards in that country, building ships for the Oriental trade, and invariably giving those ships British names.
The Suffolk, 403 tons, was launched in August 1803 by the Messrs Hudson, Bacon & Co. shipyard in Calcutta. In 1805 she was renamed the General Wellesley after the British governor and military leader in that part of India (later better known as the Duke of Wellington) who returned to Britain that year. The General Wellesley was one of the transport vessels that the British government hired to support the campaigns to capture Île Bourbon (now Réunion) and Île de France (now Mauritius) in 1810.
She completed only one voyage for the British East India Company. On a second voyage (1813-1814) she was captured by the American privateer Yankee on 5 December 1814 when homeward bound. The Americans put a prize master and crew on board, and sent her into Charleston, South Carolina. On 12 January 1815 the General Wellesley grounded on the Charleston Bar and became a total wreck with the loss of some 50 men.