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The Sinking of the Fred Everard off Ravenscar November 1965

fred everard Fred Everard Sepia
The Fred Everard
The Fred Everard down at the head off Ravenscar
Fred Everard Awash Crew of the Fred Everard
Fred Everard awash below the cliff at Ravenscar
The crew of the Fred Everard safe in Whitby

The Fred Everard Account of Sinking & Rescue of the crew by The Mary Ann Hepworth

By Tony Hussey Crew Member of the Fred Everard

In the crew photo I am second from the left in the front - the middle of the three seated. I was 19 at the time. The bloke second from right at the back was an Irishman by the name of Alan King (AB) I think. I'm pretty sure that the guy in the middle of the back row was a crewman of the lifeboat. I can't remember anyone else. I have never seen any of them from that day on. 

My memories of it are a little vague and probably distorted a little by the passage of time. I had been having a break in London and was on the lookout for a job. A friend suggested I try Everards, a company with many ships trading around the UK coast and Europe who were based at Greenithe. I gave them a ring and they immediately offered me a job on the Fred Everard. I joined in Kings Lynn and signed on as EDH (Efficient Deck Hand). We sailed the following day for Lervick in Norway where we loaded paper pulp for London. The paper pulp was in bales and as well as filling the holds it was also loaded on deck. It was this deck cargo which caused the problem.

We encountered terrible weather on the way to London with the sea breaking over the deck. The paper pulp soaks up water like blotting paper causing it to swell up and treble it's weight. The vessel started to list badly and the Master had us all out trying to jettison some of the deck cargo which was quite a task because the swollen bales had locked themselves in place forming a solid mass.

Since then I have studied ship stability (I obtained my Masters Certificate) and am now of the opinion that we weren't in any great danger. The list was in fact what is known as an "angle of loll" caused by loss of stability. The extra weight of the deck cargo had caused the ship's centre of gravity to rise. However, we weren’t thinking of this at the time. Then, as we were hard at work, all of a sudden the ship righted itself. We soon realized that she was aground. Everybody then gathered around the bridge which, on that ship was forward. Looking aft from there it became obvious that she was grounded forward but the stern was still afloat. The hull was bending to and fro as the seas buffeted her. We were concerned that she would break up underneath us.

The lifeboats were stowed near the stern of the ship but the inflatable raft was near the bridge so we launched it and climbed down a rope ladder to board it. All of us except the Master and First Mate were in the raft, still attached by painter to the ship when the Whitby lifeboat arrived. The Second Mate had sent a distress signal earlier.

Putting this down in print has jogged my memory. There were a few things that standout for me. I can honestly say that never at any time was I afraid. Being a naïve youth I was enjoying the adventure immensely. The thought that I might drown or freeze to death never entered my head. I remember thinking that this is what I came to sea for.

Another thing that stands out in my mind is that when we got on board the lifeboat, one of the crew shoved a mug in my hand and half filled it with rum from a flagon. Although I was not used to hard liquor I will never forget the warm glow that spread through me as I gulped it down. When we arrived in Whitby at about 3 or 4 in the morning, we were greeted by a customs officer who demanded to know if we had anything to declare. We thought this was comical seeing all we had was the clothes we stood up in. He also saw the funny side but still had his job to do.

The lifeboat crew could not have done enough for us. Aside from saving our lives they went out of their way to look after us. They escorted us to the Whitby Seamans Mission and made sure that we were looked after. They also rounded up some beer and scotch for us to enjoy while we warmed up in front of an open fire.

Tony Hussey
(New South Wales)

Barry Snedden 2006 - 2014