Anniversary celebrations for a radio station are in jeopardy after a fire damages a historic ship. 

The historic LV18, which is moored at Harwich Quay, was damaged by one of several fires in the town on February 2. 

Essex Police are treating the incident as arson and a man has been charged in connection with two fires, one of them on the boat. 
Owner Tony O'Neil said: “We had seven fire crews here from different parts of Essex, we were overwhelmed by the emergency service response, I couldn’t believe it. 

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Owner Tony O'Neil pictured with the vessel in 2018 (Image: Newsquest)Owner Tony O'Neil pictured with the vessel in 2018 (Image: Newsquest) (Image: NQ)

“The logistics of the whole response, coordinating their efforts so quickly when we had separate fires started in other areas of Harwich at the same time, was incredible. 

“It took five hours to put the fire out. 

“In terms of the police response and aftercare, my wife and I have been treated so well. 

“I didn’t realise victim support would even be considered, but it was in place quickly. 

"We were with CID for two hours on Sunday, giving our victim statement and engaging with them.

“Everybody involved in the emergency service response has been amazing.” 
Mr O’Neil added: “It’s the only one of its kind left in its original, unaltered condition and is a major tourist attraction in Harwich. 

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Damaged - The vessel was damaged during a fire on February 2 (Image: Public)Damaged - The vessel was damaged during a fire on February 2 (Image: Public) (Image: Public)

Mr O’Neil described the impact as “absolutely awful”, as three cabins were burned out and a lot of the 1958 vintage boat was damaged by smoke. 
“There are hundreds of almost priceless exhibits that have been smoke damaged, possibly beyond repair." 

The ship, which operates as a radio station for the Harwich Haven area recently had new equipment installed worth £40,000 and will need to be replaced. 
“We are involved in organising a huge event and celebration this coming Easter to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the start of Radio Caroline and the offshore pirate radio stations just off the coast of Harwich. 

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: A fire broke out on a Harwich boat

“This event may now be in jeopardy as the ship and radio stations may not be able to operate.” 

A 33-year-old man from Harwich, Christopher Parker, of Alexandra Street, has been arrested and charged with four counts of arson and was due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on February 6.