Dunkirk ‘little ship’ depends on Perkins

Dunkirk ‘little ship’ depends on Perkins

Perkins provided a customised engine solution for the restoration of a traditional Cornish fishing vessel, one of the remaining Dunkirk ‘little ships’.

The restoration of an 88 year old boat with a colourful history was a labour of love for Peter Draper, who turned to Perkins to help him achieve it.

The boat, named Caronia, was no ordinary fishing vessel. Built in 1927 on a beach in Cornwall, she left her fishing rig behind when she was commandeered by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She was one of the fleet of ‘little ships’ sent to Dunkirk on the French coast to evacuate Allied troops. She remained on active service throughout the war.

Later, she was reportedly involved in smuggling and running supplies to Mi Amigo, the floating base of the pirate radio station Radio Caroline.

“Peter bought Caronia in 2002, intent on restoring her to seaworthiness,” said Matt Wilson, sales and marketing manager at Wimborne, the headquarters of Perkins marine engines.

The Caronia, one of the Dunkirk Little Ships, now fitted with a Perkins engine.
The Caronia, one of the Dunkirk Little Ships, now fitted with a Perkins engine.

When we turn the key, the engine starts.
Peter Draper

“A major consideration was a new engine. He wanted a naturally aspirated engine that was robust, provided long-term reliability and was preferably manufactured here in the UK.

“The flexibility offered by Perkins engines makes them suitable for a huge variety of marine applications.”

 After consulting with Wimborne, he chose a Perkins M130C which met his requirements and had the added bonus of ease of installation.

Diamond Jubilee

Caronia was back in the water in 2010 for a ‘little ships’ event in Ramsgate, and in 2012, she took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant. In 2015, she crossed the Channel for the 75th anniversary ‘Return to Dunkirk’ commemoration and the ‘Ostend At Anchor’ festival.

The restoration of Caronia was very much about maintaining her heritage. She originally had two engines, a 26 hp Kelvin engine mounted centrally and a 13 hp engine to her port side which spun heavy flywheels that drove the shaft and propellers.

Why Perkins? “It is very simple,” said Peter. “When we turn the key, the engine starts. There are no more fuel or oil leaks and there is a significant decrease in noise and vibration.”


Perkins marine

Perkins marine

Perkins marine products provide propulsion for small pleasure craft, high-speed powerboats and commercial craft.

Learn more

Find your marine engine

Perkins marine M130C

Engine uptime is critical for you, your crew and your bottom line. That's why Perkins propulsion engines power your vessel to any port.


Find your distributor

Find your distributor

Contact your nearest Perkins marine distributor to find out how they can help you.

Find your distributor