The steel steam trawler Albatross was launched from the yard of A Hall and Co Ltd., Aberdeen (Yard No 419) on 24th January 1906. She measured 120.2′ x 21.6′ x 11.7′ and her tonnage was 230 gross tons, 98 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by A Hall delivering 65 registered horse power.
Built for James Chant and Thomas Paddon of Plymouth she was requisitioned Admiralty service as a minesweeper at the start of World War One. She survived the war and was purchased by Arthur Andrew of Fleetwood in 1919 and operated from this west coast port until she was acquired by Swedish owners Fiskeri A/B Gamen of Saffle in 1924. Finally, she returned to the UK when she was purchased by the Stephen Fishing Co Ltd., Aberdeen in 1928 who registered her in Aberdeen (A374) and changed her name to Crisabelle Stephen.
The Crisabelle Stephen left Aberdeen on 15th January 1939 under the command of skipper Francis Fraser. He had a crew of eight men aboard. As they steamed north there was a heavy sea running and the visibility was poor with a thick mist lying along the coast. Around 6am in the morning of the following day she ran aground on the Sea Stone, a large rock in the Cruden Scares off the mouth of the River Ythan. The stranding was spotted from the shore and the Whinnyfold Lifesaving Apparatus and team were called out. The message was also relayed to the Peterhead lifeboat which was quickly launched and headed for the scene although, due to other vessels now standing off the stranded ship, the lifeboat was recalled by the coastguard who deemed her assistance as unnecessary.
The trawler East Coast, under the command of her skipper David Noble, succeeded in getting a line aboard and was able to pull the Crisabelle Stephen off the rocks, It was now around 7am and the East Coast began her attempt to tow the damaged trawler back to Aberdeen. Unfortunately, after more than an hour towing, the crew of the East Coast suddenly heard shouts from the Crisabelle Stephen calling for them to beach her, presumably the vessel was filling too fast to allow the tow to continue. Then the Crisabelle Stephen was hit by huge wave and capsized. Despite the efforts of the men aboard the East Coast, including one man who jumped in to the water to try to get a rope to the Crisabelle Stephen, she sank within minutes, taking all nine men aboard with her.
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Buchan Divers – www.buchandivers.com in the preparation of this article.
We would also like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.