ST-206 - 37½ FT SEAPLANE TENDER Mk I
ST 206 was ordered in May 1931 under contract 104561/31 and was taken on charge into RAF service in March 1932. She was then despatched to Catfoss where she saw service through to 1942. On the 10th March that year she was at 85MU, Bridlington, listed for conversion to a Firefloat, which was completed and the RAF changed her designation to FT1. On completion she was returned to Catfoss and thereafter to Castle Archdale, Northern Ireland, where she was used by RAF Coastal Command. FT (ex ST 206) was further moved not far to Lough Erne in support of the Flying Boat base there on the 16th July 1942.
Her service career then got a little confused, as at first she was listed as being transferred to 62MU Dumbarton on the 1st August 1944, but this was cancelled on the 14th of the same month. In the meantime she was allocated to 26EU at Freetown, West Africa on the 8th August 1944, and again to 24EU at Durban in South Africa on the 14th August. All her "overseas allocations" were cancelled on the 20th October 1944 as Firefloat FT1 ended up being allocated to 213MU at Dumbarton in November 1944 where she was received in May 1945, and where she was maintained for Coastal Command on establishment from the 11th May 1945. FT1 (ex ST206) was earmarked for disposal through the Admiralty on the 26th September 1946 and left Dumbarton in November the same year.
Her history and whereabouts from 1946 through to 1990 are not known, however she was located in Gweek, Cornwall that year in a seriously dilapidated and almost unrecognisable state due to a series of modifications, which were part complete and out of keeping with the original design. At that time the paint was removed from her bows revealing her original RAF markings. ST 206 was subsequently acquired by Phil Clabburn who completely rebuilt her, restoring the craft to her original Seaplane Tender condition. She was re-launched at Hythe on the 17th July 1993, and is thus the first of the Powerboat Restorations craft to have been restored.
In her present guise, she has twin Cummins diesels fitted and has had her hull glass sheathed, otherwise she appears as she would have done over 60 years ago. ST 206 now represents the BMPT at numerous events and often accompanies HSL 102.
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