About a week ago, I had a press release from the RAF Museum in North London announcing a small bit of significant history was about to occur – but failed to mention the date.

I however, then kept forgetting to contact them to find out when it would happen – and erm, today seems to be the day.

The event is in itself, not huge – a small boat will travel around the parts of the UK visiting various ports, including St Katherine’s Dock near the Tower of London. However, this is the ST206, a Seaplane Tender from the 1930s – and most importantly, it will be the last RAF boat to fly the RAF Ensign on the water.

From the RAF Museum:

The small launch, ST206, was used by the RAF to ferry passengers and crew to and from the giant flying boats of the 1930s and was used as a fire tender and rescue launch during the Second World War.

The launch was developed by TE Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia – in his little-know career after his famous desert exploits in World War One.

Sitting at home working this lunchtime, I looked up to see a small boat going past the flat, flying the distinctive RAF Ensign and after a moment to realise what was going on, ran out and grabbed a photo.


ST-206 on the Thames - click for larger version

Although I can’t see the boat number on the front, a few checks on Google seems to confirm that it is indeed the ST-206 heading up the river.

If you want to see the last boat to fly the RAF flag, then head over to St Katherine’s Dock.

After the final journey is finished, the boat will be taken by road to the RAF Museum to be put on display.


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  1. Mr RJ Clemenets says:

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I wish to point out an error in above text where you state ” … this is the ST206, a Seaplane Tender from the 1930s – and most importantly, it will be the last RAF boat to fly the RAF Ensign on the water.”

    The oldest known boat to be flying the (old) RAF ensign is in fact Brooke Boat 26 / ML117.

    For further information, please do not hesitate to contact myself (see e-mail below)

  2. Robert J Clements says:

    For oldest known Seaplane tender to be flying the RAF ensign is Brooke Boat 26 / ML117.

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