The steam tug ‘Kern’e was launched at Montrose in 1912 and is the last operational ex-Royal Naval coal-fired steamship. And there is good news about her long-term viability.
She is owned by a partnership of The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Limited and the NorthWestern Steamship Company Limited.
Together, they have obtained a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out repairs to the vessel’s hull.
The grant is for £85,000.
The work will take place in Sandon Dock, Liverpool and at the ship repair facility of Cammell Laird Limited, Birkenhead.
Led by volunteers, largely from the North West of England, the project is designed to restore the condition of the hull of the vessel and will ensure ‘Kerne’ will continue with its popular displayed and presentational activities, around the North of England, in the coming decades.
Work starts this month with a three-month programme of stripping and cleaning the vessel before she is transferred to Cammell Laird Ltd for hull repair.
The work of Cammell Laird Limited and the volunteers of The Steam Tug Preservation Society Limited will continue through 2015 with re-commissioning of the Kerne planned for 2016.
The funding will also provide for the training of new and existing volunteers and provide for the purchase of electronic displays to improve the quality of presentation of the vessel when opened to the public.
A programme to collect archive material relating to ‘Kerne’ and its 100 years of maritime activity also forms a part of the project with the material generated used in educational presentations via Schools, Colleges, Museums and Subject Groups.
‘Kerne’ has been operational during her entire lifetime. She served the Admiralty at Chatham Dockyard during both World Wars and is thought to have also been deployed laying anti submarine nets during the First World War.
Released by the Admiralty in 1948 ‘Kerne’ entered commercial service, briefly on the River Thames, and then on the River Mersey, as a Harbour Tug until being sold in 1971 to a group of enthusiasts. Based in Liverpool, she has been operated in preservation since that time.
As far as we are aware, there as yet no plans for the restored ‘Kerne’ to visit the port of her birth.