MB278 – A Dunkirk Little Ship

A centenarian naval pinnace built in 1914

Originally powered by steam and constructed of double-skin teak on rock elm and oak frames, with a third skin fitted internally athwartships, the naval pinnace MB278 was delivered to Harland & Wolff, Belfast to join HMS Sir John Moore in 1915. After five years in Malta, she joined the battleship Iron Duke in the Mediterranean. Her first major refit was in 1929 in Malta, where she received a 22hp Ferry engine before joining the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth in 1930, the first of the ‘fast battleships’.

In preparation for her 2010 return to Dunkirk, MB278 received a new diesel engine, taking her to a hull speed of 7 knots. Internally she has two berths, possible galley and mahogany cupboards forward to port and starboard, leading into a toilet compartment in the forepeak. The newly designed wheelhouse opens into a large aft cockpit, making her ideal for cruising on the Thames. The next return to Dunkirk will be in May 2020.

Since her rebuild in 2010 MB278 has been well maintained overwintering ashore by the Thames under a full length cover. She has had professional crew for the past two years and the varnish was touched up in summer 2019. If you are looking for a boat with a wealth of history which has passed its hundredth birthday and is ready to serve for another hundred years MB 278 could be your passport to Dunkirk for the 2020 crossing.