Steam Pinnacles, Pickets and Tenders

Click on thumbnail for larger image.

These are some of my favourite boats and were used for moving between ships and shore. They could carry a gun and the earlier craft could carry two torpedoes and, as a picket, were designed to protect harbour entrances and ships at anchor. Steam picket boats, cutters, pinnaces and barges are all names given to small steam powered boats that could be hoisted on board and lowered using the ship's own equipment. We shall use the term "steam picket boat" unless the photograph is identified as otherwise. A general workhorse, these often elegant boats were, in the Royal Navy, commanded by a Midshipman with a crew of a Petty Officer Coxswain, Coxswain, two seamen as bowmen, a sternsheetman and a boy to handle the fender whilst in the engine room was a Stoker Petty Officer and his Stoker. All Navies had steam picket boats and the number carried on a ship depended on its size and its role. Other interesting small craft – rowed and motor boats - are also included. Recent correspondance (14th April 2020) has suggested that "Pinnacles" should be replaced by "Pinnaces" in the title. Please take note.

Catalogue number 131053

Rear Admiral's barge in French port

This Rear Admiral's barge is tied up alongside a French steam launch. The port may be Brest or Cherbourg, note the two gun barrels on the quay.

8.2cm x 5.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 129035

King George V and Queen on a pinnace, Cowes

Unfortunately this photograph is a bit fussy but it still shows the fine lines of a distinguished steam pinnace.

Recto:"Royal Pinnace with King and Queen on board at Cowes"

Verso:message to Miss B. Hall "....There is a Regatta at Ryde today and we passed through all the yachts. The King's yacht nearly ran us down. We passed also quite close to several Cruisers and Dreadnoughts...." franked Cowes 1913

13.5cm x 8.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 126083

Steam pinnace hauling out aboard H.M.S. Royal Sovereign

With the funnel folded down, the pinnace is probably being lowered into the sea (usually crew are on board when bring in the pinnace). Note the AA gun right.

Verso:"HMS Royal Sovereign" in light pencil

12.9cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 89 FI

Top brass in the port of Toulon, a smart French steam picket boat

Maybe an Admiral's barge moving Government officials and Admiralty in the naval harbour at Toulon. A large cabin aft with a fine brass funnel but the steam engine appears to be uncovered.


28cm x 21.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 128100

French steam tender

A simple, handy steam tender for harbour work, note the riveted steel hull. The crew are giving her a coat of paint.

Verso:" To the officers of the torpedo boats Siroco and Alsace" in French and franked 1907

13.9cm x 9cm printed image


Catalogue number 126059

Motor launch, French Aeronavale

St Mandrier was a seaplane station off the Toulon naval base and here we have a fast motor launch used for running crews back and forth to their aircraft or between their station and the naval base of Toulon. On the foredeck is what looks like the mount for a machine gun.


22.2cm x 17.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 129004

Motor launch, U.S.S. West Virginia (detail)

The fleet is in at Long Beach, California and the Admiral's motor launch is tying up, a large motor launch with fancy lace curtains in the cabin. Midships, we can see the horizontal ship's wheel. A more basic motorboat is in the foreground with suitcases on board and a hand tiller right aft.

Verso: Stamp box in use from 1925 to 1942

11.5cm x 7.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 127036

U.S. Navy petrol bowser

This specialist motor launch was for refueling flying boats whilst afloat. Note the large fenders to protect the fragile flying boat hull. The launch is conned from the foredeck and the petrol pump is on the reservoir midships, we can see the belt/chain drive for the pump at the level of the boat's bell. Long lengths of hose are coiled up on the after deck.


11.2cm x 9.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 126082

Lowering the whaler, H.M.S. Royal Sovereign

This is a good view of a Royal Navy whaler being lowered from the davits. Note the legend below. With a flat calm sea and no urgency, one may ask whether the depth charges were dropped as an exercise or to have fish for dinner !

Recto:"Seaboat preparing to pick up any fish killed by the depth charges"

13.2cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 123072

Motor launch, Mercury II

Mercury II was an experimental signal establishment and Admiralty Signal establishment H.M.S. Mercury set up at Haslemere in 1941. A fast motor launchMercury motor launch wb4 wb42 123072 was assigned to the establishment.

Recto: "England's motor torpedo boat Mercury II"

13.4cm x 8.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 123068

Motor launches for landing troops

Five motor launches at high speed on trial. The legend says that they are for landing troops but they do not really look adapted to the task.

Recto: "Trials off Southampton of new English (sic) motor launches for landing troops"

19cm x 12.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 123070

Vice Admiral's barge

Here is a Vice Admiral's barge with something under tow. An officer is standing on the coach top with binoculars and a megaphone whilst the boat is coxed forward. Does anyone know what the flags signal?

13cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 117082

Hoisting in the pinnace, 1915

The pinnace is being hoisted aboard, the crew stay with her until she is in the crutches.

Recto: addressed to "Miss ****" in Vilvorde, Belgium and franked Anvers, 1915

8.2cm x 10.8cm Printed image


Catalogue number 118106

Royal Navy picket boats, 1909

Two steam pickets and a ship's cutter with both masts set are about a small pier along the south coast of France, the postcard is franked 1909. One of them is an early twin funnel boat, note the Royal Marine to port carrying sacks of mail to be posted when ashore. A second picket boat is in the background, left.

Recto: text in French "Steam pickets of the English(sic) squadron at the pier"

Verso: text in French from "Jules" to "Miss ****" and franked 1909

13.9cm x 9cm Printed image


Catalogue number 119066

The workhorse of the Fleet

A 56 foot steam picket boat is towing a large cutter loaded with stores back to the mother ship. A typical job for these sturdy vessels.

8.8cm x cm x 13.9cm Printed image


Catalogue number 126010

Picket boat at the launch of H.M.S. St Vincent, 1908

H.M.S. St Vincent was launched at Portsmouth on 10th September 1908 and this photograph shows a large picket boat going round the stern of the ship whilst dockyard men collect the floating timber left after the launch. Several ladies are in the cabin watching the events and a second picket boat is working in the background. Note the two magnificent paddle tugs alongside the battleship

Verso: text in Hungarian giving date when laid down, characteristics and cost (1 927,000 £).

13.6cm x 8.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108031

Picket boat from H.M.S. Nelson, 1934

H.M.S. Nelson carried several ship’s boats - two 50-foot motor pinnaces, one 35-foot motor pinnace, two 45-foot motor launches, two 32-foot sailing cutters, two 27-foot whalers, a 30-foot gig and two 16-foot skiff dinghies. She could also have on board, a 50-foot Admiral’s barge. Here, the picket boat appears to have a Vice-Admiral’s badge on the bow - St George’s cross defaced with a red disc in the upper left canton. Note the bow men with arms folded across their chests. The photograph was probably taken during the Spring cruise to the West Indies.

Verso: "June 1934. Boat from H.M.S. Nelson" in pencil

12.9cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 113054

Picket boat in cradles on H.M.S. Nelson

This picket boat seems to have an Admiral’s badge - St George’s cross - on the starboard bow . The steering position is protected by a high screen and we can see the oblong box with glass sides showing the ship’s name and with “N” on the front panel. This would be lit up at night to help identify the boat. The funnel is a bit battered about.

Credit: Wright and Logan

13.2cm x 7.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114091

The Admiral's pinnacle, Malta

This is a fine photograph of an Admiral’s barge at Malta with many interesting details. We can see the Admiral’s badge on the starboard bow. There is a skylight instead of a gun mounting forward, two bow men are in place on the tip-up seat and with “reglementary” arms folded across their chests. Aft of the funnel are two brass ventilators with the engine room crew standing in the hatches with the engine room skylight behind them. At the steering position are two crew, one of whom would be a Petty Officer, alongside the Midshipman. Abaft the steering position is the after cabin with its fittings of brass dolphins and the brass hand rail. On the counter stern is a wooden bench which would normally be in the well. The barge doesn’t seem to be underway.

13.8cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 99010

Picket boat from H.M.S. Ramillies

This picket boat is from H.M.S. Ramillies with the heavy cruiser H.M.S. Devonshire in the background. The Midshipman is at the helm and note the engine room number looking out of the hatch just forward of the port brass ventilator. The chequered bow flag - November - signifies negative in Royal Navy terms and means that no ceremony is called for when the picket boat passes by other ships because the Admiral is not onboard (thanks to Martin Marks).

Verso: "HMS "Devonshire" in black ink

8.2cm x 5.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109068

A spendid 56-foot picket boat

After the previous photographs of smartly turned out steam pickets, here is a very relaxed crew of a 56-foot picket boat in the anchorage. There is a ship’s badge on the starboard bow but it has not been identified. There is no mounting in place forward for a gun. It is never the less a beautiful boat !

13.1cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114057

A rough trip for the Admiral's launch

The wind is getting up and there is a fair amount of spray about as the motor boat from H.M.S. Barham leaves the shelter of the harbour. The launch is carrying a Rear Admiral’s flag on the bow and the Rear Admiral of the white on the stern. Note the open steering position with the canvas screens up but giving little protection against the weather.

Verso: “Barham” in light pencil

14cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114068

Vice Admiral's barge

Times have moved on and a Vice-Admiral’s barge has diesel engines and twin screws. It is not clear what is going on here, usually the crew stay on board when the barge is hoisted inboard. Note the officer far right - is that his braces hanging down? No, it is more likely his sword belt!

Verso: "Vice Admiral's barge"

13cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 44197

The King's motor launch, 1937

Speeds have moved up and this is a fast motor launch built for King George VI.

Verso: “England. A very luxurious and fast motor launch has just been built. It is for King George VI. The launch photographed at top speed. 2.4.37.” in French

7.2cm x 11.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 38136

A high turn of speed !

The same launch showing a turn of speed during trials.

17.2cm x 12cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 02026

Fast Admiralty motor boats, 1938

Many an old school Midshipman would have preferred zipping about the anchorage going from ship to ship in a high speed launch like these two rather than the heavy steam-engined picket boat.

Verso: “Admiralty Motor Boats (2) 3/38” in pencil

Credit: Wright and Logan

13.3cm x 8.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114093

Admiral's barge

Here is another diesel-engined Admiral’s barge with extensive cabin space.

12.8cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number *****

A Royal Navy launch in the port of Marseille

Here is another Royal Navy motor launch in the port of Marseille with H.M.S. Intrepid in the background. The photograph was taken prior to the Second World War.


Catalogue number 114092

Motor launch, H.M.S. Cleopatra

This is a motor launch from H.M.S. Cleopatra, a Dido-class cruiser launched in 1940. Apart from the aft cabin, the rest of the boat is covered by a canvas screen. Note the curtains on the cabin windows and the brass dolphin fitting.

13.9cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108032

Going on board a Royal Navy motor boat

The protection against the sea and the weather is even more sparse on this motor boat from H.M.S. Woolwich. The boat is secured to the lower boom, note the Jacob’s ladder. With a more agitated sea, boarding the small boat could be quite acrobatic, especially for the first man to board.

14cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 107029

Swinging out a U.S. Navy motor cutter

American warships carried large motor boats which were found doing all sorts of jobs. Here the boat is being lifted by the ship’s crane. The engine cover is off and we can see the four-cylinder engine, the fuel tank is on the starboard side against the transom.

Recto: "Swinging out a ship barge"

Credit: Underwood and Underwood

7.8cm x 11.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114022

A fleet workhorse

This motor boat is delivering bread to the fleet. We can see “Me” on the starboard bow, this may be a boat from the battleship U.S.S. Massachusetts (launched 1941). Often when laid up together, the large kitchens of a battleship would bake bread for smaller ships. Note the oil lamp by the ship’s bell.

Verso: “Bread for the fleet” in light pencil

12.9cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 100108

Taking the mail ashore

This U.S. Navy motor boat is taking the mail ashore for posting in a port along the French Riviera. Note “Nan” on the bow.

Verso: Postcard franked in 1958

14cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114018

Liberty men from U.S.S. Louisiana

The cutter full of Liberty men is coupled alongside the steam picket boat of U.S.S. Louisiana

Verso: “Steam pinnace and cutter of the United States Ship “Louisiana” at some wharf in The USA conveying liberty men (of a”

13cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 111093

American motor picket boat

Here is a U.S. Navy picket boat at the time of the Second World War. Note the strong hand rail right forward.

Verso: "American motor boat in the port of Tangiers" in French and in black ink

8.2cm x 5.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 41198

Class A German motor boat

Coming up to the companionway of the battleship S.M.S.Kaiser is a class A motor boat. This has a steam engine with the steering position midships and a cabin aft with the well surrounded by a brass handrail. S.M.S. Kaiser had been commissioned only a few months before the photograph was taken.

Verso: Postcard with text in German sent from Wilhelmshaven 22 March 1913 from a officer abord S.M.S. Kaiser to a friend in Freiburg.

13.8cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 23044

A smart crew !

The crew are well turned out on this class A steam picket of the German Navy, photograph probably taken in Kiel harbour.

14cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 100106

Picket boat facing the wet weather

With the helming position at the stern and no cover, this must have been a wet boat to handle. The coxswain has a voice pipe in his left hand to communicate with the engine room.

14cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105122

Dropping off an officer, S.M.S. Moltke

The motor boat is about to disembark an officer at the companionway of S.M.S. Moltke. Note the canvas covers and three crew members.

13.7cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109049

French Admiral's barge, 1939 (detail)

Sailors with boat hooks hold the barge up against the quay as the Admiral and his aide go ashore. Note the Admiral's flag on the bow. The photograph should identify the Admiral's name as "Abrial".

Recto: "Oran. Admiral Abrigal (sic) commander of the Mediterranean fleet going ashore at Oran." in French

Verso: "The Mediterranean fleet has arrived in Oran for bombing and defence exercises with the 21st Air squadron in North Africa." in French

Credit: Keystone

16cm x 11.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 115050

French picket boats re-embarking officers and men after shore leave, 1910

Two steam picket boats are ready to take sailors and officers back to their ship after leave ashore.

Verso: Long message from a sailor in the Marine Nationale to his brother. Postcard franked in 1910 at La Rochelle

13.9cm x 8.8cm Printed colour image


Catalogue number 100098

A workhorse at the Toulon naval base

This kind of steam boat - slow but reliable - would do all the running about at the naval base - pulling boats, carrying stores, moving crew about etc. The wheel seems to be right forward.

13.6cm x 8.8cm Printed image


Catalogue number 47312

French motor boat

This looks like a small working motor boat belonging to the French Marine Nationale.

Verso: "Souvenir of a voyage at sea"

10.2cm x 6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 103106

Taking on fresh stores, Toulon

Motor boats are looking for space to come alongside the Cronstadt quay in Toulon. Officers and men are returning to their ships - one man in a suit already has his hand on the wheel - whilst sacks of vegetables and cases of wine wait to be taken aboard. Note the pre-war sloops in the background.

13.3cm x 8.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 68033

Officers from the cruiser Dupleix

Four officers and a sailor from the French cruiser Dupleix are shown here on board the ship's motor boat sometime prior to the war.

10cm x 6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 115062

Swinging in a picket boat on a Japanese battleship

This picket boat is being swung aboard a Japanese battleship whilst two ladies in traditional dress look on.

13.4cm x 8.2cm Printed image


Catalogue number 17006

Japanese Navy picket boat (detail)

When Japan was building up its fleet in the late 1800s and eary 1900s, orders were placed with British ship builders and this may explain why the I.J.N. Tsukuba was fitted out with British-made picket boats, one of which we can see here alongside ship.

Verso: "Tsukuba3 in light pencil

15.3cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number ****

The sailing cutter from H.M.S. Caesar

The cutter is being sailed out in the anchorage. We can see the sailor at the tiller, men with flat caps in the stern and sailors further forward.

**cm x **cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109083

Getting to and from the boats

This photograph came from a series of photographs from H.M.S. Durban during the 1932 - 1933 South America cruise. Three sailors illustrate the art of embarking/disembarking a boat from the boom. The cutter is bow-on to a fresh sea and a man is climbing up the Jacob's ladder whilst another holds the rope ladder firmly by the ship's painter to prevent it from swaying. Once up to the boom, the man has to climb on to it heaving himself up using the boom rope, as the second man is doing. To reach the ship's side, the man has to walk along the boom, usually rounded but sometimes with a flat upper surface. For support, he has a life-line. Embarking, especially for the first man is even more fun as he has to hang from the Jacob's ladder. He would then attempt to catch the boat's painter and twist it round his leg, so pulling the boat towards him. At the critical moment, with the bows beneath the ladder, he would drop into the boat. In rough weather or with a strong tideway, this could be quite a delicate task.

10.7cm x 6.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 98044

A steam picket boat from the Italian ship Andrea Doria

Here we can see the flat upper surface of the boom mentioned in the previous text.

Verso: "Genoa - 15.9.28 I am on the boom. Underneath you can clearly see the steam picket" in Italian and in black ink

6cm x 3.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 100003

The cutter from H.M.S. Wessex

Here is a chearful crowd rowing the cutter - two men to an oar - to shore from H.M.S. Wessex D43, the group in the bows are beating a drum. They may be off the Toulon naval base judging by the hills in the background.

10.5cm x 7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 100102

Whaler from the French ship Couleuvrine, 1895

The French torpedo boat Couleuvrine was completed in 1887. The ship had two whalers, one of which is shown here taking the Captain, Lieutenant de Vausseau Habert, on an official visit ashore at Alger in 1895.

Recto: "In the port of Alger, 1895. - The Lieutenant de Vaisseau Habert, Captain of the "Couleuvrine", going to an official visit in the whaler." in French and in black ink

Verso: "Commandt. of the "Couleuvrine" in his whaler Monsieur the Captain Bellot "Couleuvrine" Alger" in French and in black ink

11.1cm x 5.8cm Printed image


Catalogue number 100103

Taking the Admiral and his aide to an official visit, 1896

Admiral Roustan going to visit the Captain of the Swedish training ship Freyde with his flag flying in the bows of his cutter.

Recto: "In the port of Alger, 1896. - The Rear Admiral Roustan, Commander of the Marine in Algerie, accompanied by his Aide de Camp Lieutenant de Vaisseau Ferré de Pérouse, going to visit the Captain of the "Freyde", the Swedish Navy officer training ship." in French and in black ink

8.7cm x 3cm Printed image


Catalogue number 40252

Manning the Emperor's barge, 1900

This large barge is given as the Emperor's barge but it doesn't resemble the Emperor's barge of the French National Maritime museum. It may be the much simpler barge that, it is said, the emperor used during a visit to the fleet in 1810.

Verso: "The Emperor's barge at Cherbourg 1900" in French and in black ink

11cm x 8.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108005

Picket boats taking crew ashore

The battleship fleet is in port, it looks like Hong Kong, and the picket boats are out along with five cutters following behind.

14cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108006

Working picket boat

Here is a photograph of a steam picket boat doing it's job. The officers are sitting in the stern whilst the Midshipman is at the helm. The boat is towing a cutter full of sailors and a smaller whaler as they pass under the bow of HMS Exmouth.

Recto; "The British squadron in the Baltic at Schwinemunde (Germany). The Exmouth, Admiral's ship of Admiral Wilson in the foreground. Admiral Wilson is going ashore." Translated from French.

16.5cm x 11.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108007

Picket boats and motor launches follow the cutter race

Several steam pickets can be seen in this view of a cutter race during a fleet regatta. Judging by the distance between the two cutters, we are at the finishing line. Various flags are flying from the bow of the different pickets. These races were the object of much prestige... and betting!

14cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108008

Motor boat, USS Georgia

The 40-ft motor boat of the US Navy was the general workhorse of the fleet and was used to transport men or supplies and stores. Early boats had petrol engines later replaced by diesel engines. The boat was open to the elements except for a canvas shelter over the engine when necessary and in this photograph, we can see the wire strops used to hoist the motor boat on board. There seems to be a mounting for stepping a mast on the forward-most thwart. USS Georgia was commissioned into the fleet in 1906 and was decommissioned in 1920.

13.6cm x 8.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 70138

Steam picket boat

We can see, from right to left, the bowman with the gaff holding the boat to the wharf, the dome-shaped mounting for the gun, the Stoker Petty Officer is standing half out of the engine room hatch and there are two officers at the helm.

9cm x 14cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 80312

Royal Navy twin funnel picket boat circa late 1800s

Here is a smart Picket boat underway off the coast of Gibraltar, the sailors have straw hats and the stern cabin is covered by a fancy sun shade. The twin funnel arrangement enabled to helmsman to have a clearer view forward, the single funnel in the centreline tended to obscure his view.

Recto AZH. Life in the Royal Navy 22. Ship's Torpedo Boat

8cm x 8cm glass positive


Catalogue number 80310

Swinging out a picket boat

This photograph shows the well-proportioned hull of these solid little boats. The picket boat is being swung out on a derrick, the funnel is hinged down for the moment and we can see the three-bladed screw and the strong keel.

Recto AZH. Life in the Royal Navy 25. Work main derrick: Out Picket boat

8cm x 8cm glass positive


Catalogue number 74043

HMS Barham

There is a lot of activity around HMS Barham with two picket boats and several cutters lying off. Several boats have already been stowed on the upper deck and it looks like a derrick is being positioned to lift out the left hand picket boat. Note the biplanes on B and C turrets with the flying off platform running over the gun barrels.

Recto H.M.S. Barham Flagship 2nd Battle Squadron. Atlantic Fleet

9cm x 13,8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 100107

Steam Picket boat from SMS Nassau

A very proud sailor is standing on the stern of this German Picket boat which is tied up to the boat boom. The helming post has a shield that gives the helmsman some protection from some spray and a sailor is standing in the engine room hatch but we cannot see any air intakes. The gaff is lying on the deck by the engine room casing.

Verso "Im Erinnerung am die Nimmerschene Nassaubarkass Dein Freund Lucien Lindermann den 10 Juni 1918" In memory of the....(friendship?)....Nassau barque Your friend Lucien Lindermann the 10th June 1918.

8,1cm x 10,1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 19032

Harbour steam tender

Far from the sleek and elegant lines of the so-well-kept steam pickets, the steam tenders were hard-working boats in the naval bases, with all the bumps and scrapes that go with the job. A canvas cover protects the engine room of this French Navy boat.

13.8cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 37172

French Navy Patrol boat

This boat may be for patrolling the coastal water off Tunisia. When purchased, it was said that the photograph was from 1910 and the 5 centimes stamp was in use at that time in Tunisia.

13.8cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 92053

Steam Picket boat of the German Navy

Here's a jolly crowd steaming along with quite a few men aboard. Sailors are on deck along with two men in civilian clothes and a smartly-dressed sailor with white gloves. Seated in the stern is a group of four including another man in civilian clothes - are they all going on shore leave? The helmsman has a voice pipe in his left hand for communicating with the engine room. The crest of the ship to which this boat belongs can be seen on the port bow but it is as yet unidentified.

13.8cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 35222

US Navy tender to the diver, detail

The "diver down" pennant is out as the boat crew from USS Idaho search for a torpedo probable lost during a trial firing. The hard-hat diver is on the stern ladder and the pump is manned, it looks very much like a Siebe Gorman pump.

Verso: "USS Idaho Bill pumping in boat for diver looking for lost torpedo" in pencil.

8,1cm x 10,1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 29048

Cutter, HMS Aboukir, 1905

HMS Aboukir was a Cressy-class cruiser completed in 1902 and was deployed in the Mediterranean until 1905. Although the legend to this photograph says that it was taken off Marseille, it looks more like the naval base of Toulon.

Recto: "Une petite Barque du croiseur anglais "Aboukir" Marseille, le 28 avril 1905" in black ink (A small cutter from the English cruiser "Aboukir" Marseille, 28th April 1905).

8,1cm x 10,1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 35315

Party group in a British whaler

So what is going on in this Royal Navy whaler? Men in top hats with their faces blackened accompanied by sailors and one of them has a bass drum whilst another up in the bow of the boat has a mace. Is it some kind of farce with the whaler going from ship to ship at anchor?

13.7cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 40242

A variety of US Navy motor launches

Balboa was a district of the city of Panama at the southern end of the Panama canal and formed an important center for the American forces when they controlled the canal zone. All sorts of US Navy motor picket boats and launches are gathered around the simple landing wharf. Characteristic of the picket boats is the fancy sunshade at the stern and the forward wheelhouse.

12.8cm x 7.5cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 19019

USS California and a motor picket boat

This photograph shows a stern view of the battleship USS California some time in the 1920s. We can appreciate the size of the battleship and its broad beam by comparing it with the motor picket boat that is passing to the starboard quarter. The helming position is midships in this large motor launch and things seem pretty relaxed.

Verso: "Cuirassé California" in black ink ("Battleship California")

8,1cm x 10,1cm Gelatin silver print