Built in 1942 by the Miami Shipbuilding Corporation at Miami in Florida USA, the Allen Gardiner is one of twenty identical boats ordered by the South African Air Force during World War II. These boats were used as air/sea rescue launches and became commonly known as “crash boats”. They were deployed in pairs around the South African coast, and they were responsible for saving the lives of over 600 survivors from the 153 ships sunk by German U-boats and surface craft off that coast during the war.
After the War, a number of the surviving boats became harbour cruise restaurants, including the Allen Gardiner. She was added to the Lady Florence business in Durban, South Africa in October 2002. In 2011, she underwent a six-month rebuild in Durban, with all planking above the waterline being replaced. At the end of 2013, she proudly made her way to Ipswich and into our hearts. Visit the Allen Gardiner site to find out more.