The concept of the stern trawler was derived from the Antarctic whaling vessels which from the mid 1920`s pulled their catches up a stern ramp, a Norwegian captain named Sorlle first used this method aboard the LANSING in 1925, for the British fishery it would be the whaling company of Christian Salvesen of Leith Scotland that would have the first all purpose stern trawler built. Originally the Salvesen`s had emigrated from Norway and had imported timber and whale oil onboard the vessels they owned, they set up a land-based whaling station at Olna in the Shetland Isles in 1904 which remained in service till 1929. By 1907 the company had started Antarctic whaling and established a base in the Falkland Islands but later moved closer to the whaling grounds and moved to South Georgia. By 1914, Salvesen's whaling fleet consisted of two factory ships, five supply ships and 18 whale catchers. Many of the first vessels to be fitted with a stern ramp were ex Royal Mail Steam Packet Vessels. For Salvesen`s SALVESTRIA (1913/11,938 grt Previously RMS CARDIGANSHIRE ) and SOURABAYA (1915/10,107 grt previously RMS CARMARTHENSHIRE ),were 2 such vessels, liners were also converted but by the 1920`s purpose built stern whalers were been built.
After WWII whaling was in decline so Salvesen`s bout and
adapted the surplus Algerine class minesweeper, HMS FELICITY (1944/1,241 grt
built as HMCS COPPERCLIFF - Launched - 19.1.44 / Completed - 10.08.1944 -
built by Redfern Toronto Canada, BU Charlestown 29.8.57
In 1947 - HMS FELICITY was then adapted for use as a fishing vessel under the name of FAIRFREE. The fitting of a factory ship stern ramp and refrigeration equipment produced the world's first combined freezer/stern trawler. Such was the success of the FAIRFREE that after five years the FAIRFREE was laid up in 1952 but was followed by three purpose-built vessels: FAIRTRY (1954/2,605 grt) FAIRTRY II (1959/2,857 grt) and FAIRTRY III (1960/2,857 grt).
The first full-scale purpose built factory stern trawler, "Fairtry", was constructed in 1953 in Aberdeen, Scotland for Salvesen's and Co, she was far bigger than any other fishing vessel of the time at 280 feet and 2,600 gross tons, due to her size she could not land her catch at a fish dock and after initial landings at Immingham, landed in Hull from 1955 under her Skipper Leo Romyn D.S.C who would also later command Fairtry II, although there were vessels at the time similar in size, which had been used in the Antarctic for whaling, Due to the near extinction of the whale population companies found the need to diversify by this time and change their vessels into other operations such as whale processors, fish-meal factories or like Salvesen`s trawling. The "Fairtry" represented the latest in fishing technology. The Fairtry launched and retrieved its nets by pulling them up a stern ramp at the rear of the ship rather than over the side as the previous sidewinder trawlers had done. This gave them the advantage of using far bigger nets and in one haul could out fish a sidewinder by 60 tons, the stern ramp also gave them the ability to fish when it was unsafe for a sidewinder to do so. The full mechanical retrieval of the net also relinquished the need of manually hauling the net inboard. The Fairtry incorporated plate freezers and a combination of plate and blast freezers allowing quick-freezing facilities, automated filleting machines, cold-storage units, and a fish reduction unit. Following years of research and development at Torry Research Station, Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1961 commercial vertical plate freezers were installed for the first time onboard the stern trawler "LORD NELSON" which would become Hulls first Stern fishing vessel in 1961. Since then there has been a rapid development of fish processing and freezing at sea. But nearly all future stern fishers would be modelled with some modification on the original Fairtry.