NOSTALGIA: Was this vessel used for covert operations by the Royal Marines?

SD Colonel Templer leaving Portsmouth after a refit.
SD Colonel Templer leaving Portsmouth after a refit.
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Does anyone remember this vessel?

She was built in 1966 as a stern trawler named MV Criscilla and sold to the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, in 1980 and renamed Colonel Templer, pictured right.

SD Colonel Templer ablaze in Hull docks.

SD Colonel Templer ablaze in Hull docks.

In the late 1980s she was converted to an acoustic research vessel and in 1990 was seriously damaged in a fire at Hull docks, inset right.

In 2000 she was handed over to the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS) and in 2008 she was sold to a Swedish company and renamed Seaway Endeavour.

Mike Nolan, who loaned me the photograph, told me that for a while she was manned by a Portsmouth Dockyard RMAS crew and she used to come and go at all hours doing specialist work.

After the fire, Mike tells me she was brought back to the dockyard and he went on board with other riggers to assess the damage.

Pictured during the 1955 150th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar, here we see Southsea's floral clock in all its glory.

Pictured during the 1955 150th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar, here we see Southsea's floral clock in all its glory.

‘She stank of fire and so did we after we had finished our shift,’ Mike tells me.

The Ship Nostalgia website says there was a rumour she was operated for some time by Royal Marines who used it for ‘sneaky-sneaky’ purposes.

Looking at all those aerials and antennae, that could well have been the case.

If you know any more about the vessel and its secrets, I’d be pleased to know.

The 149 service to the Hayling Ferry on an early autumn day, September 15, 1963. (A.M. Lambert, Roger Allen collection)

The 149 service to the Hayling Ferry on an early autumn day, September 15, 1963. (A.M. Lambert, Roger Allen collection)

• One of the delights of walking around the seafront when I was a child was seeing the floral clock along Clarence Esplanade opposite what is now the junction with Avenue De Caen.

I was most shocked when I passed the area last week to see that the clock has now been completely obliterated from the scene.

The following day I received an e-mail from Brian Granfield on the very same subject.

He told me he had been in contact with the council, which told him the clock had been put into storage and no decision had been made on its further use

A smart driver and conductor on service 47. They are posing in Woodgaton Lane. (A.F. Bell, Roger Allen collection.)

A smart driver and conductor on service 47. They are posing in Woodgaton Lane. (A.F. Bell, Roger Allen collection.)

It appears the clock was moved to allow improvements to the grounds surrounding the D-Day Museum.

Let us hope this very attractive part of Southsea’s past can make a comeback in a garden somewhere in that neck of the woods.

• The final two photographs come from a vast collection belonging to Roger Allen, of Hayling Island.

I will pass many more to Elise Brewerton, the editor of The Hayling Islander, for inclusion in that publication during the coming months.

The picture, below left, was taken long before the Pay As You Enter regime was introduced. The conductor might have had an easy time of it in winter when there were few passengers.