OKU CF25 / M99
Official No: 128499 Port Number and Year: 19th in Cardiff, 1909 (CF25)
2nd in Milford, 1926
Description: Steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged: mizzen sail
Crew: 11 men
Registered at Milford: 12 Jul 1926
Built: 1909 by Smith's Dock Co., North Shields. (Yard no. 412)
Tonnage: 248.04 grt 95.36 net.
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 125.6 / 22.1 / 12.2
Engine: T 3-Cyl. 81 rhp. 10 kts. Engine by Shields Engineering & Dry Dock Co., North Shields; boiler by Richardson, Westgarth & Co., Middlesborough
25 Nov 1909: Henry West, Hope St., Cardiff.
1912: Neale & West Ltd., Hope St., Cardiff.
Managers: Joshua S. Neale, Morley H. Neale, and Wilfred Neale. (Same address.)
c.1922: Joseph Baron Bardsley Huddlestone, 'Dania Villa', Wellington Rd., Hakin.
12 Jul 1926: Hakin Steam Trawling Co. Ltd., Docks, Milford
Managing owner: Joseph Baron Bardsley Huddlestone, 'Dania Villa', Wellington Rd., Hakin.
Landed at Milford: (CF25) 20 Dec 1921 - 4 Jul 1926.
(M99) 18 Jul 1926 - 3 Feb 1928.
Skippers: Thomas Hackett (1928).
General Oku (Oku Yasukata), Commander of the Imperial Japanese 2nd Army during the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905). (The Japanese word oku also means to do something on someone's behalf.)
Mar 1915: Requisitioned by Admiralty as minesweeper (Admy. No. 1355). 1x12pdr., 1x6pdr AA.
1919: Returned to owners.
Jan 1921: John King, skipper of OKU, was washed overboard and drowned. (The Times, 29th January 1921.)
11 Feb 1928: Foundered off Fastnet. [See below.]
Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 1928
Accidents and Incidents
The Times, Monday, Feb 13, 1928; pg. 21; Issue 44815; col G
Valentia Wireless station, Feb.11.- Following received from British trawler LIMESLADE:- Trawler OKU M99 of Milford, in sinking condition between Lat. 51.00 and 51.10N., Long. 11W. Hole in Bottom. Crew all safe on Limeslade.
The Times, Tuesday, Feb 14, 1928; pg. 14; Issue 44816; col D
More Unsettled Weather.
(FROM OUR WEATHER CORRESPONDENT.).
RESCUES AT SEA
The steam trawler Limeslade Castle [sic] landed at Swansea on Sunday night ten shipwrecked men of the Milford Haven trawler Oku, which foundered during Saturday's gale off the Irish coast. The Oku was on the fishing grounds during the week, and on Friday night, when off the Fastnet, she was struck by a terrific sea, and half an hour later the vessel was sinking. The only boat had been washed away and the crew sent up distress signals and tried to construct a raft. "We even burned our trawls and our bedding," said the mate, George Huddlestone, "in fact, anything that would burn. Eventually we were sighted by the Limeslade Castle, and with great pluck her mate, J. Down, and a deckhand manned a boat and for over an hour tried to reach us, although seas were almost swamping them. These efforts being unsuccessful, the captain of the Limeslade Castle drifted an empty boat towards us and we managed to secure it. We climbed into the boat and were hauled to safety. The Oku sank a few minutes later."
From a transcription of an undated local newspaper, probably the Western Telegraph of Wednesday 15th February 1928, in the Les Jones Archive:
The 95 ton steam trawler "Oku" owned by the Hakin Trawling Company, put out from Milford Monday week to work the Irish fishing grounds and was engaged in trawling when severe gales overtook her and her crew of ten men.
Mr. George Huddlestone, mate, has given a graphic description of the hard ship's experience by the crew before they were picked up at 12.30 a.m. on Saturday morning. "An especially heavy sea struck us throwing the bunkers of coal on one side and putting the trawler on her beam's end. Skipper Hackett at once got the ship's head on to the sea and succeeded in getting her trimmed and on a level keel." But no sooner had this been accomplished, than the Chief Engineer, Mr. T. Russan , reported that the vessel was sinking. In the interval the wheelhouse had been washed away, the electrical lighting apparatus failed and the small boat smashed by heavy seas. Throughout the night the trawler was tossed hither and thither by huge waves, and all the time the crew were engaged in burning "for signal" anything that was inflammable on board, including the fishing trawl.
At dawn the steam trawler "Limeslade" of Consolidated Fisheries, Swansea, Skipper Gale, came to give assistance. The first officer and deckhand put off in the "Limeslade" small boat to see if they could rescue the crew of the Milford trawler. They made a gallant attempt, but after persevering with heavy seas for an hour, they were forced to put back to their own vessel. The mate was loud in praise for the courage shown by these two men, and declared that they deserved the Victoria Cross, or at least one of the Royal Humane Society's highest awards.
Captain Gale of the trawler "Limeslade" was still determined to effect a rescue and eventually succeeded in drifting an unmanned ship's small boat to leeward and float it down to the trawler "Oku", whose crew managed to grapple the small boat and bring close alongside. They were then hauled to safety on board the "Limeslade", which then stood by until the doomed trawler's deck was awash. They then proceeded to the trawler home port of Swansea and arrived late on Saturday night.
Four members of the crew from the "Oku" were admitted to Swansea Hospital, the most serious being the third hand, Mr. Toddy Evans, son of Mr. Arthur Evans, 2 Brooke Avenue, a nephew of the skipper, who sustained three fractured ribs. We understand that Mr. Evans' brother, Frederick Evans, who was sixteen years of age last month, was on a pleasure trip on the ill-fated vessel, but happily was unhurt. The crew arrived on Milford Station from Swansea Monday evening.
CREW - S.T. "OKU"
Skipper - Thomas Hackett, 11 St. Peter's Road, Milford Haven.
Mate - George Huddlestone, 2 Hill Street, Hakin, Milford Haven.
Boatswain - Arthur Earles, 12 Greville Road, Milford Haven.
Third Hand - Toddy Evans, 2 Brooke Avenue, Milford Haven.
DeckHand - Joe Thomas, 55 Priory Stile, Haverfordwest.
Deck Hand - Jack Adams, Hubberston, Hakin, Milford Haven.
Deck Hand - Lewis Phillips, 6 Cambrian Road, Neyland.
Cook - L. Williams, 117 Portfield, Haverfordwest.
Chief Engineer - T. Russan, The Bungalow, Little Haven.
Second Engineer - W. Masters, 3, Concrete Houses, Pill, Milford Haven.
The Times, Tuesday, Apr 17, 1928; pg. 13; Issue 44869; col B
GALLANT RESCUE AT SEA
SILVER MEDALS FOR TRAWLER'S SEAMEN
The King, on the recommendation of the President of the Board of Trade, has awarded the Silver Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea to Charles Down, second hand, and Selwyn Ernest Gill, deck hand, of the steam trawler Limeslade, of Swansea, in recognition of their gallantry in attempting to rescue the crew of the steam trawler Oku, of Milford. In addition, the Board of Trade have awarded a piece of plate to James Gale, skipper of the Limeslade, and a sum of £3 each to Charles Down and Selwyn Ernest Gill.
The Oku was in distress on the fishing grounds off the south-west coast of Ireland early in the morning of February 11, having been damaged by heavy seas. Signals of distress were answered by the Limeslade, which stood by from 4 a.m. until 8.30 a.m. Her skipper then sent away the small boat with a line attached by Down and Gill to try to reach the Oku. After battling for nearly an hour against the hurricane and the raging sea, they had to give up their attempt owing to exhaustion, and the boat was pulled back to the Limeslade. A dan-cast was then fastened to the line, and Down and Gill made another attempt to reach the Oku. Again they had to give up, The skipper of the Limeslade decided to try to get the empty boat alongside the Oku. A longer line was fastened to the boat, the Limeslade was manoeuvred into a favourable position, and the boat was drifted down to the Oku and secured by means of a grapnel. After the ten members of the crew of the Oku had got into the boat it was pulled through the water to the Limeslade, and they were helped on board. Although Down and Gill failed in their attempts to reach the Oku, they displayed great gallantry and ran grave risk. If the small boat had been swamped or overturned by the heavy seas, they might well have perished.
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