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Saint Chamond - Launch



Daily Mail Nov Feby 8th 1913
The launching of the s.s. St Chamond at Messrs. Wm Gray and Co.’s dockyard yesterday was the occasion of a very interesting and impressive religious ceremony, conducted by the Very Rev. Canon Wickwar, of St Joseph’s Church, West Hartlepool. It is the first time, so far as we know, that this ceremony of blessing a ship has been performed locally – certainly the first time at Messrs. Gray and Co.’s shipyard – and it was witnessed with great reverence by the officials grouped around the staging, and the numerous workmen gathered about the vessel. Canon Wickwar, who was attended by Father Marley and the crucifer (Mr. Bullen), the thurible bearer and the bearer of the holy water, robed, as did his assistants, at the offices. A procession was there formed, and issued from the offices shortly after four o’clock. It was a strange sight to see the processional cross being carried through the gates of the busy shipyard, and gleaming brightly amidst the dullness of the surroundings, rendered gloomier still by the darkness of the afternoon. On it passed through the works towards the new ship, and as its flash caught the eyes of the workmen a solemn hush came over each group, who stayed their hands to watch the white-robed procession follow in its wake, and catch the sweet perfume of the incense which was wafted forth from the thurible. Father Wickwar was wearing his canons cape over his rochet. The procession having mounted the staging the service was commenced, according to the Roman Liturgy. It opened with suitable versicles and responses, and then followed prayers in Latin. Canon Wickwar then blessed the vessel, sprinkling each side with holy water, afterwards censing it several times in the midst of an impressive silence.

Subsequently the canon read prayers in English, these being couched in beautiful language, and very appropriate. The first called upon the Lord “with thy right hand to bless this vessel, and all which shall sail therein  **** Thou didst deign to bless the ark of Noah resting on the flood.’ “Extend to them, Lord” continued the prayer, “Thy right hand, even as Thou didst stretch it forth to blessed Peter as he walked upon the waters. Send down Thy holy angel from Heaven to guard and deliver it from every danger, together with all those who shall be therein. Vouchsafe to protect Thy servants; remove far from them all adversity; grant them ever a favourable voyage to the wished-for harbour, that having fulfilled and perfected their purpose, they may once more return to their homes in peace and happiness.”
Then Father Wickwar, looking towards the ship, added, “May the God of Might, whose voice resoundeth on the waters, be with thee on thy outgoing and home voyage. May he bear thee in the hollow of His hand, may He silence the storm and calm the waters before thee, may he keep all on board under the shadow of His wings in life and in death, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
The final prayer read “O Lord Jesus, who didst command the winds and sea, and presently there came a great calm, hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant by this sign of the Holy Cross the spirit of the storm may abate.” This concluded the ceremony, and the vessel glided gently down the ways into the dock amidst cheers. Mdme.  Th. Laurente, wife of the General Director of St Charbond Works. France, was the godmother to the vessel at the service.


The vessel is a handsome steel screw steamer, and has been built for Messers. Les Chargeurs de l’Ouest Societe Anonyme de Navigation, Nantes.
She will take the highest class in the Bureau Veritas Register, and is of the following dimensions, viz.: Length over all, 325ft. 6in., breadth, 46ft. 6in., and depth, 23ft. 5 1/2 in, with long bridge, poop, and top-gallant forecastle.

The saloon, staterooms, captain’s and officers’ and engineers rooms, etc., will be fitted up in houses on the bridge deck, and the crew’s berths in the poop.
The hull is built with deep frames, cellular double bottom, and large after-peak ballast tank, self-trimming hatches, five steam winches, steam steering gear amidships, hand screw gear aft, patent direct steam windlass, large horizontal multitubular donkey boiler, stockless anchors, telescopic masts with fore and aft rig, and all requirements for a first class cargo steamer.

Triple-expansion engines are being supplied by the Central Marine Engineering Works of the builders, having cylinders 23in., 36 ½ in., and 62in. diameter, with a piston stroke of 42in., and two large steel boilers adapted for a working pressure of 180lbs. per square inch.  
The ship and machinery have been constructed under the superintendence of Mr. A. Martail on behalf of the owners.
Monsieur P. Merveilleux Du. Vignaux, director of the Company (who christened the vessel), Monsieur A. Martail (chief inspector), Mr. R. H. Harkness, of Bureau Veritas (under whose survey the vessel was built), Mr Geo. Sarginson (Vice Consul for France), Mr. R. H. Sarginson, Mr Geo. Jones, J.P. (managing director for the builders), Mr. A McGlashan, Mr. T. McCarthey, Mr. F. W. Hunter, and others.

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