The Ship

Built in 1946, SS Freshspring is recognised as being of national historical significance on the National Register of Historic vessels. She was the last of 14 Fresh Class water carriers, all of which were 121 feet in length and were powered by a triple expansion steam engine. Her duty was to replenish Naval ships with fresh water for use in boilers. She also acted as a fire tender when required.


Steamship Freshspring in Bristol early 1980's


SS Freshspring Hull


  • Length overall 126 ft 6 ins (38.5m)
  • Length between perpendiculars 120 feet (36.5m)
  • Beam 24 ft 6ins (7.5m)
  • Draft 10 ft 9 ins (3.3m) max
  • Between 0.3” (7.6mm) and 0.26” (6.6mm) thick
  • 289 gross registered tons (293.6 tonnes)



Scotch type three furnace 13 feet (4m) diameter 10 feet (3m) long, working pressure 180psi (12.4bar), 1600 square feet (148 Square Meters) heating surface. Outer shell 1 1/32 inches (26.2mm), front and back plates 1 3/32 inches (27.8mm), each furnace 3 ft 1inch (0.9m) diameter of Deighton corrugated design, 64 stay tubes and 142 plain tubes, each 3 1/4 inches (82.6mm) in diameter, length 6 ft 10 11/32 inches (2.09m).

Originally fired via three coal grates with 46 1/2 square feet (0.4 Square Meters) of grate area, now with three heavy oil burning furnaces, pre heated and pressurised by a steam powered unit in the corner of the boiler room.

Oil firing system provided by The Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co. Ltd. of Wallsend-on-Tyne, using the Wallsend-Howden patent system.

Main Engine

Main Engine

Triple expansion reciprocating, 21 inch (0.53m) stroke by 11, 18 and 30 inch (0.28, 0.46 and 0.76m) diameter cylinders, 59 nominal hp (44kW), 450 indicated horsepower (335.6kW), maximum revs 170rpm.

Piston valve on the high pressure cylinder, slide valve on the intermediate and low pressure cylinders, reversing gear has steam assist on the reverser wheel to help make quick changes in direction. The engine drives by rocking levers an air pump, two boiler feed rams and two bilge rams.

6 inch (0.15m) diameter crankshaft, 6 1/2 inch (0.17m) propeller shaft, Propeller 6ft 10inch (2.08m) diameter 6 ft 7 inch (2.01m) pitch four blade cast iron.

Condenser 54 5/8 inch (1.39m) diameter 6 ft 3 inch (1.19m) long tubes with a surface area of 565 square feet(52.5 Square Meters).

Maximum speed 9 1/2 knots (records show ‘Freshspray’ also sailing to Malta over 17 days, 12 days 6 hrs underway, average 8.14 knots with an average fuel consumption over the 2345 nautical mile trip of 8 tons per day).



Steering engine by Donkin & Co. Ltd., Newcastle on Tyne. A twin cylinder engine with two steering wheels, one using steam assist the other manual, controlling the rudder by means of chains port and starboard running down to main deck level around pulleys and then by rods running aft to shock absorber springs before connection to the tiller. Ships telegraph.

Water Tanks

Water Tanks

205 tons (208.3 tonnes) of fresh water carried in two pairs of forward tanks, 88 tons (89.4 tonnes) in the forward tanks and 102 (103.6 tonnes) in the aft tanks, accessed via four hatches in the foredeck, then two tanks aft of the engine room of 46 tons (46.7 tonnes) each.

Accommodation and Crew

Accommodation and Crew

  • Captains cabin
  • Officers accommodation aft
  • Crew quarters forehead
  • Galley on above deck aft
  • Lamp room, paint store, showers and• washroom in the forepeak


Electric Generator

Electric generator 10kw 110v DC - powered by Robey & Co. Ltd of Lincoln single cylinder steam engine. Generator made by Clarke Chapman of Gateshead.

Condensor Circulation Pump

Drysdale & Co. of Glasgow, 3 1/4 inch (0.08m) by 2 1/2 inch (0.06m) stroke steam engine turning a 5 1/2 inch (0.14m) centrifugal pump 10 1/2 inch (0.27m) 450 gallons (2,045 litres) per minute.

Fire and Salvage Pump

Powered by E.N. Mackley & Co. of Gateshead on Tyne steam engine, 8 1/2 inch by 5 inch turning a 5 1/2 inch centrifugal pump.

Boiler Feed Pump

By Dawson and Downie, 2 inch (0.05m) pump 10 1/2 inch (0.27m).

Bilge and Ballast Pump

By Dawson and Downie, 2 inch (0.05m) pump 10 1/2 inch (0.27m).

Main Cargo Pump

By Dawson and Downie, 6x4x12 inch (0.15X0.1X0.3m) 900 gallons (4,091 litres) per hour.

Forced Draft Fan

W Sisson & Co. Ltd of Gloucester, 3 1/2 inch (0.09m) by 2 1/2 inch (0.06m) stroke turning a 26 1/2 inch (0.67m) fan.


Windlass twin cylinder (duplex) steam powered on the forepeak by Gemmell & Frow Ltd of Hull.