Another historic sailing vessel strongly associated with Gloucester Docks is the tall ship KASKELOT, pictured both leaving Gloucester Docks in March 2016 and again in April 2018, waiting for the tide to ease before entering Sharpness Dock for onward passage to Gloucester. KASKELOT was originally a traditional Baltic Trader built in 1948 by J. Ring-Andersen, one of the world’s most reputable shipyards, for the Royal Greenland Trading Company at the Svendborg shipyard in Denmark.
During the 1960s she worked as a support vessel for fisheries in the Faroe Islands and was then purchased by Square Sail, UK in 1981 and converted to replicate a traditional three masted barque double topsail. Her film and TV credits include, Return to Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, David Copperfield and Shackleton.
Another barque conversion, EARL OF PEMBROKE was seen in 2016 moored at Purton before voyaging to Tommie Nielsons yard at Gloucester. Built in Sweden in 1945 as ORION, the 145′ long, 24ft beam vessel featured a 405 bhp 6 cylinder diesel engine, 885 square metres of sail and crew of 15. She was used to haul timber around the Baltic before being moved to the U.K. in 1980. After a comprehesive refit the 180 ton vessel was converted from a schooner to a Barque and renamed EARL OF PEMBROKE.
Most classic ships enter Sharpness docks under their own power but in April 2018 the barge TERRA MARQUE (IMO 9281384, 2 786 grt) , owned by the famous heavy load company Wynn’s, arrived with the Thames barge GLADYS. Built in Harwich in 1901, GLADYS arrived in Gloucester for a major overhaul in Tommi Nielsons yard.
Meanwhile, the first diesel tug to be used on the Thames attracted Ted’s camera as it left Gloucester Docks in October 2015. Built in 1937 as a lighter launch tug, SWALLOW was found derelict in 1978 and rebuilt with a 150 bhp 6 cylinder turbo charged Ford Dorset engine. Two months later, the tug SEVERN PROGRESS was noted in Gloucester Built by Charles Hill of Bristol in 1931, her original 100 bhp Kromhout semi diesel prime mover has now been replaced with a Lister diesel engine. She towed barges on the Severn and Sharpness canal until the late 1960s.
Another link between the Thames and Gloucester Docks was the fire boat MASSEY SHAW, seen on 14 September 2013 having trials with the Massey Shaw Society after a refit at Tommi Nielsons yard. 78′ long and with a 13′ beam she was built in 1935 by Samuel Wight on the Isle of Wight at a cost of £18 000. Named after Eyre Massey Shaw the Chief of the London Fire Brigade, she was in service until 1971. MASSEY SHAW is powered by two 165 bhp diesel engines and uses two Merryweather four stage 8 inch pumps to deliver 1 500 gallons of water per minute. In 1939 with war looming 20 of these craft were ordered and were all used on the Thames for fire fighting. MASSEY SHAW was also a Dunkirk little ship and saved 500 lives, 30 of them from a French cargo vessel moored off Margate.
Tugs were also a feature of another of Ted’s favourite locations. In August 2017 Falmouth hosted the Southampton based fire fighting tug LOMAX (IMO 9657832, 426 grt) . Built 2012 in Turkey, LOMAX was 28 metres long with a 14 metre beam and featured a 50 ton bow bollard and 80 ton main bollard pull. She was twin engined, each powerplant developing 6 302 bhp and turning a 2.8 metre diameter four bladed variable pitch propeller. Also in Ted’s picture was the larger fire fighting tug SVITZER SARAH (IMO 8919192, 364 grt) of Grimsby. Measuring 30 metres from stem to stern and with a beam of 16 metres, her bollard pull was 53 tons.
Also at work in Falmouth Harbour in August 2017 was ATLANTIC TONJER (IMO 8205620, 3 349 grt). Built in 1983, the 80 metre by 18 metre beam multi purpose off shore vessel was registered in Panama. With a crew of over 50, she features a 50 ton crane, mini moon pool and heli pad.
In the same month Falmouth dry dock hosted the 2007 vintage Royal Fleet Auxilliary Landing Ship (Dock) L3007 LYME BAY (IMO 9240768, 23 569 grt). During June to December 2015 she was on hurricane service in the Caribbean and two years later her keel was dry for planned maintenance. Measuring 176 metres with a 26 metre beam, L3007 is capable of 18 knots. She can transport up to 24 Challenger tanks and has a carrying capacity of 200 tons. Her flight deck can take helicopters up to Chinook size and she can carry 360 troops along with a complement of 60 crew.
Less successful as a naval vessel was TRITON ( IMO 4906551, 2 291 grt), seen moored in the Fal estuary in August 2017. Commissioned August 2000, she was used as a test bed for trimaran use in the Royal Navy. On 15 December 2001 TRITON was out in the Atlantic on heavy weather trials. An early morning call was made to the Falmouth lifeboat to rendezvous with her complete with a doctor. One of the research engineers required immediate evacuation as he had serious seasickness. As the trimaran format was found to be problematic in heavy seas, TRITON was dismissed from service. She was first sold out as a survey vessel and then moved onto Australia in 2005 for Customs duties. Capable of 22 knots, TRITON measured 97 metres overall with a 22 metre beam. She required a crew of 14 but could carry 28 Customs officers. As of 4 October 2017 TRITON was moved to the River Yare in Norfolk.
More conventional but much less swift was the 1978 vintage jack-up barge EXCALIBUR (IMO 8763282, 2 390 grt). With an overall length of 130 metres and a 60 metre beam, her legs were 50 metres tall. However, she he has no propulsion and has to be towed. During another visit to Falmouth in April 2018, Ted noted HMS TYNE (IMO 9261322, 2 109 grt) and Royal Fleet Auxilliaries TIDE SURGE (IMO 9655559, 29324 grt) and ARGUS (IMO 7822550, 26 845 grt).
Bearing the pennant number P281, River Class off shore patrol vessel HMS TYNE was built by Vosper Thorneycroft in Southampton and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 2003. Powered by two Ruston 12RK 270 550 bhp diesel engines, HMS TYNE can reach 20 knots and has a complement of 30. South Korean built RFA TIDE SURGE, like RFA LYME BAY, meanwhile has enough flight deck space for a Boeing Chinook twin rotor helicopter while RFA ARGUS began life as the Italian container ship CONTENDER BEZANT and is now a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship.
A final “grey funnel line” image was of HMS ILLUSTRIOUS(IMO 8949563, 20 600 grt) at Portsmouth after her final sailing. Commissioned June 1982 and decommissioned in August 2014, she is could make between 18 and 30knots. She has a crew of 685 and a fleet of 22 helicopters although was built around the ski ramp concept of launching BAe Sea Harrier aircraft.
From conversations during Ted’s presentation it appears that some cruise lines have a problem with Falmouth also serving as a freight and container terminal, but those vessels docking in August 2017 included ALBATROS, BALMORAL and EMERALD PRINCESS.
ALBATROS (IMO 7304314, 28 518 grt) was built by Wartsila of Finland and is powered by four of the company’s mighty diesel engines. Their combined output of 13 240 KW allows the 1973 vintage vessel to make 21 knots. ALBATROS has a passenger capacity of 812 and measures 206 metres overall with a beam of 25 metres.
Fred Olsen’s BALMORAL (IMO 8506294, 43 537 grt) meanwhile was newer, having been built by Meyer of West Germany in 1887, and more powerful with two MAK diesels delivering 21 300 KW. it is also much larger, with a length of 218 metres, 33 metres beam and a crew of 471 looking after 1 778 passengers.
The Italian built EMERALD PRINCESS (IMO 9333151, 113 561 grt) though measured 289 metres overall with a 37 metre beam (including overhanging bridge) The 2007 vintage vessel also featured 19 decks, 18 lifeboats, 3 050 passengers and 1 200 crew.
To put these vessels into context, Ted’s presentation also referred to Cunard’s QUEEN MARY II (IMO 9241061, 149 215 grt). Built in France by S.T.X with an overall length of 346 metres and 49 metre beam she set ail on her maiden voyage on 12 January 2004. She was registered Southampton from 2004 to 2011 but is now registered in Bermuda. Since her 2016 refit she carries 2 700 passengers and 1 200 crew. She is a regular cruise ship as well as an established Atlantic crossing vessel. Because of the severe Atlantic storms and for her appearance the lifeboats should have been 15 metres above the waterline but are actually 25 metres above the waterline.
Another vessel whose crew later had reason to regret sailing into bad weather was ASTORIA, (IMO 5383304, 16 144 grt) pictured off the Isles of Scilly in May 2017. Built 1944 in Stockholm she has had 8 previous names. As at 2016 she was the second oldest cruise liner. Called STOCKHOLM in 1956 she had a disastrous collision with the Italian liner the ANDREA DORIA off Nantucket. Most passengers and crew survived although ANDREA DORIA sank the following morning. STOCKHOLM however saved 326 passengers and 245 crew and delivered them to New York. Today she has a skirt around her stern to assist with the ship’s comfort.
In contrast, built for speed rather than comfort, were the J Class yachts RANGER and LIONHEART seen at Falmouth in June 2015. The yachts were designed in the 1930s to race for the America’s cup. They are 140′ long with a 176′ high mast, and weigh 200 tons with 16 000 square feet of sail. The crew of is normally 30.
Going even further back, the August 2014 Tall Ships Festival at Falmouth yielded the sight of the steamboat MOONDANCE. Having only been launched in late June 2014, work commenced in March 2011 by J Whittaker in Cornwall. She has a planked hull but G.R.P sheathed to protect from the sea salt elements. The cabin is built from Khaya West African Mahogany. Propulsion is provided by a vertical steel boiler and a single cylinder steam engine developing 4.2 bhp.
In fact river vessels, as well as being easier to find and photograph, have a charm all of their own. KINGSWEAR CASTLE, for instance, was seen departing Dartmouth quay in July 2017. A small 35 metre long steam powered paddle steamer with a 5 metre beam, she has returned home having been built by Philip and Sons of Dartmouth 1924. During World War 2 she was chartered by the U.S Navy to carry stores and personnel on the River Dart She was moored up on the Isle of Wight from 1967 to 1971, endured a chequered life but eventually return to the Dart in 2012. She is powered by a Compound Diagonal two cylinder steam engine built by Cox & Co of Falmouth. The 8′ x 8′ coal fired Scotch boiler was built by William Robey in 1963 and works at 120 psi. The non feathering paddle wheels are 10′ in diameter and 365 passengers can be carried at 8knots.
WINDSOR BELLE meanwhile was a luxurious passenger boat on the Thames, pictured at Henley on New Year’s Day 2018. Built 1901 she was originally steam powered but converted to diesel drive 1950. In 1986 she had a serious overhaul and refitted with a 1937 McKie & Baxter compound steam engine, works number 1306. The engine had been used on the River Ouse until 1967 propelling a dredger.
Also re-engined was FRANCINE, a Naval Pinnace seen in Portsmouth Harbour August 2017. Built in 1940 by either Groves & Guttridge or Samuel Wight – both of the Isle of Wight for the Admiralty, she became the Harbour Defence Launch at Brixham. FRANCINE originally had a single engine. Now though, the teak and oak built vessel has 2 Gardner 4LW diesels. At some time the wheel house has been added, too.
Closer to home, Motor Vessel TREVOSE was seen at Saul Junction in September 2017. Built in 1964 for the Royal Navy, she ended up as a navigation training ship. Now privately owned, TREVOSE is harboured in Waterford as a private pleasure yacht. She sailed out of Sharpness on 26 January 2018.
Just as cruise ships are getting bigger, so container lines seem to be vying for who can claim to own the biggest ship in the World. In August 2014 Ted went to Southampton to photograph Hapag Lloyd’s NEW YORK EXPRESS (IMO 9501332, 142 295 grt). Built in South Korea in 2012, she measured 367 metres overall with an 49 metre beam, 45 100 KW of installed power and room for 13 092 Twenty Foot Unit (TEU) containers.
At the same port in August 2017 the NYK Line’s 2013 built NYK HYPERION (IMO 9403853, 9 971 grt) was recorded. She measured 148 metres length with a 23 metre beam. On the same visit the 2014 vintage UK registered EVER LISSOME (IMO 9629079, 99 946 grt) measured 335 metres long with a 46 metre beam. It had a 8 452 TEU and featured high bow bulwarks. It could cruise at nearly 20 knots.
In August 2017 however the MOL TRIUMPH (IMO 9769271, 210 678 grt) was the second of its fleet to unload at Southampton – the first having taken place in May 2017. Only commissioned that year, she was the second of a fleet of six container ships and measured 400 metres long with a 59 metre beam. MOL TRIUMPH featured 20 170 TEU, all with a power output of 82 440 KW. The largest container ship in the World in May 2018, her usual voyage commences at Xingang, continues to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Suez Canal, Southampton, Le Havre, Tangier and then returns.
Fifty years ago, oil tankers provided the biggest growth sector for freight shipping and Ted’s talk included pictures of the 113 553 deadweight crude oil tanker BRITISH KESTREL (IMO 9297357, 63 462 grt) seen at Fawley 2016. Built 2006, BRITISH KESTREL was 252 metres overall, 44 metres in beam and featuring a single propeller. Another crude oil tanker, seen bound for Avonmouth in 2015, was the UACC IBN SINA (IMO 9485629, 42 010 grt) Built 2008, it was 229 metres long with a 33 metre beam and a 73 338 ton deadweight. Closer to home was the ex Mobil oil tanker PEGASUS seen being given a general overhaul at the R.J. Davis yard at Saul on the Sharpness canal in November 2017.
Much as the Western world runs on oil, where would we be without food? A pleasant surprise addition to Ted’s ship parade was thus the Russian cargo ship POLA SEVASTIANA (IMO 9691785, 5 687 grt) arriving from Kiel to Sharpness Docks on her maiden voyage on Monday 8 January 2018 with 6 600 tons of wheat. Built in 2017, POLA SEVASTIANA is 140 metres long, with a 17 metre beam. She is the largest cargo ship to visit Sharpness in 60 years and as long as the outer basin. Unable to swing around in the dock basin, she had to leave stern first and lock down for 3 hours in the outer basin ready for the evening tide. POLA SEVASTIANA then reversed out into the fast flowing river Severn bound for Ventspils in Latvia.
Southampton of course has a long association with these ocean behemouths and consequently has all the port infrastructure needed. This includes a long line of evolving tugs. The last steam tug working on the Thames but still moored in Southampton was the CHALLENGE. She was a tug tender for Red Funnel Steamers. Built 1931 CHALLENGE is on the National Historic Fleet Register, and is also a Dunkirk Little Ship. In 2017 arrangements were made for her to return to the Thames for restoration but as of August 2018 remains moored at Southampton.
On a similar topic, Ted recorded the tug VOLUNTEER at 2015 in Portishead marina. Built by Charles Hill of Bristol she is considered the sister of steam tug JOHN KING also built in Bristol. Constructed in 1935, VOLUNTEER was the first diesel tug in the Bristol Channel. She was then modified in the late 50’s to tow barges on the River Severn. Her bulwarks were made higher and the funnel was shortened. In the 80’s she went to Wisbech where she worked for Drake towing. She was then saved from the scrap yard and returned to Bristol. It is hoped VOLUNTEER will be fully restored.
One historic ship that currently has a home in Southampton, and was photographed by Ted in August 2017 was the sewage carrier SHIELDHALL (IMO 5322752, 1 753 grt). Like her vertically mounted triple expansion main propulsion steam engines, she was built by Lobnitz of Renfew in 1954. Two 12′ x 12′ Scotch boilers in fact fed 20 separate steam engines on board. SHIELDHALL was built on the classical lines of a 1920 tanker and used to carry sewage down the Clyde to be literally dumped at sea. In 1976 she went to Southampton on a similar mission.
As well as boats that sail, Southampton has a long association with boats that fly, which brings us to Ted’s April 2018 discovery of the flying boat tender and floating control tower AQUILA now preserved in a glass case on the seafront at Funchal in Madeira. Operated by Aquila Airways until 1949, she was originally built in the U.K. under the inspiration of T.E. Shaw, known earlier as Lawrence of Arabia and later instrumental in building air sea rescue launches for the RAF. During 1935-1945 the 12 metre vessel was used for coastal patrols and the training of R.A.F pilots.She has a wooden vee shaped hull and was capable of 20 knots.
Also preserved on Funchal sea front is MOSQUITO, a 1900 built steam powered launch used by Blandys the island’s shipping agents, established in 1862. Until 1977, MOSQUITO was used as a tender between the large cruise ships and Funchal’s City quay. Built with a tin lined wooden hull and measuring 10 metres with a 3 metre beam, MOSQUITO’s original steam engine was replaced with a diesel engine in the late 1940s. She was rebuilt for Expo 98 and fully restored in 2005.
Similarly, the Solent which brings ships to Southampton from all over the World is also a barrier between it and the Isle of Wight. This is currently crossed by Britain’s only regular commercial hovercraft service – the hovercraft itself having been built by Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight. Before the advent of Sir Christopher Cockerell’s invention however, Red Funnel ferries were transporting cars and people across the Solent. Among their number was BALMORAL (IMO 5034927, 735 grt), built by Thorneycroft in 1949 and capable of carrying 10 cars at a time until retirement in 1980. BALMORAL commenced cruising in the Bristol Channel in 1986 with room for 800 passengers but due to refits not keeping up with ever changing health and safety legislation she will not sail in 2018.
The Scilly Isles also proved a rich hunting ground for Ted’s camera. Keeping the islands themselves supplied was the pallet carrier GRY MARITHA (IMO 8008462, 590 grt). Built in 1981 with a length of 37 metres and 9 metre beam, her cruising speed is 9 knots. When pictured in May 2017 GRY MARTHA was in the process of being retired. Also reassuring the islanders was the presence of the 2003 vintage Medical Transfer Boat. Essentially a floating ambulance, the 11 metre vessel with a 5 metre beam was powered by two Cummings 315 bhp diesel engines operating a pair of Hamilton water jets. She can carry a patient and seven other people as well as the crew.
Also braving the often rough seas between the Scilly Isles and Cornwall was SCILLONIAN III (IMO 7527796, 1 346 grt). Built in May 1977, the twin engined 15 knot ferry measures 68 metres from stem to stern with a beam of 12 metres. 15 crew look after 485 passengers and in 40 years of service SCILLONIAN III has made 9000 return crossings, travelled 648 000 miles and carried 1 485 000 passengers.
Perhaps some of the Scilly Isles most distinctive boats however are the 6 man Gigs. They were built to take a pilot out to ships in distress. and are now considered to be the first shore based lifeboats. The design of Gigs is based on TREFFY, the first Gig, built in 1838. They are 32′ long with a 5′ beam and are now raced for sport.
Isles of Scilly pilots were also at the heart of a story Ted told about two historic vessels. MARGUERITE was built in Appledore 1985 with an all steel hull and teak planking over the deck. She weighs 38 tons with a 10 ton lead keel and measures 66′ long with a 14′ beam. The opulent interior is mahogany throughout made available with the closure of a branch of Lloyds bank. MARGUERITE, seen moored at St Mary’s, the Scilly Isles capital, on 4 May 2017 is built on the lines of the pilot cutter MARGUERITE T, built in 1893 and believed to be still sailing in the Fal area.
MISCHIEF was also built in Appledore, this time in 2007. Seen at Ilfracombe on 19 July 2017 drying out, she measures 45′ with a 13′ beam and weighs 27 tons.
“Early that morning I spied her sailing up the Bristol Chanel into a heavy sea. She only had her mainsail hoisted about three quarters. I was later to find the sail was only to keep her steady. She was under motor power. About two miles up channel from Ilfracombe her prop shaft broke. She sent out a May Day and was rescued by Ilfracombe’s new Shannon Lifeboat. The crew were relieved but disappointed as they were heading for her home port of Bristol’s Festival of the Sea. She looked in quite good condition with nearly every rope in prime condition. The skipper was just off for his first shower in seven days. The lad was a Cypriot working in London and joined the cutter in Faro a week earlier. She had been sailing in the Mediterranean based in Cadiz.”
The original MISCHIEF was built in 1906 and sailed by William Morgan who became famous for his sailing adventures. She was sold out in in 1921 and laid up in Malta. In 1954 she was purchased by Explorer Bill Tilman, who gave her a serious refit. Bill sailed her from the Antarctic to the Arctic by way of Heard Island, South Georgia, Patagonia and Greenland – a journey of 111 000 miles. In 1968 she struck a rock in the Artcic and sank being crushed by ice floes. Bill continued his adventures with two more Pilot Cutters. In his 80th year, 1977, he was asked to join an expedition to climb Smith Island. Somewhere on the voyage his ship sank without trace.
One unifying feature of the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland is the tireless voluntary work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. Since 1996 the Scilly Isles has been served by a Severn class lifeboat, THE WHITEHEADS. Measuring 17 metres overall with a 5 metre beam, the 25 ton Severn Class design features two Caterpillar engines delivering 1 250 hp with a service speed of 25 knots.
In July 2017 meanwhile, Gloucester Docks Lifeboat Weekend celebrated 150 years to the naming of Falmouth’s first lifeboat, CITY OF GLOUCESTER. A tapestry made by Gloucester Quilters was presented to Falmouth Lifeboat Station commemorating the 150 years of friendship. In the same month, Ted noted Ilfracombe’s Shannon class lifeboat moored in the harbour entrance. New on station July 2015 the 17 tonner measures 13 metres with a 4 metre beam. Two Scania 650 KW diesel engines drive two waterjets giving a performance of 25 knots.
In August 2017 Watson class Life Boat MICHAEL STEPHENS was seen at Falmouth. The Watson Class were 46′ long with a 12′ beam weighing 23 tons and powered by two Ferry diesels. The centre stack of the design was too lift the diesel exhaust well above the water line in heavy weather. Built in 1939 at J.S. Whites on the Isle of Wight, MICHAEL STEPHENS was first in service in Lowestoft for 24 years and was a Dunkirk little ship. On 1 June 1940 MICHAEL STEPHENS rescued 52 soldiers despite being twice rammed by motor torpedo boats as she came and left the harbour, jostling with naval and civilian craft coaxing soldiers to climb or jump onto their decks. She was finally sold out of service in 1975 having been launched 182 times and saved 92 lives apart from her Dunkirk involvement.
WILLIAM CANTRELL ASHLEY was a Liverpool Class lifeboat built by Groves and Guttridge in 1949 based in Clovelly until 1968. Twenty of the single engine versions of the Liverpool Class were built between 1931 and 1941 with thirty one twin engine versions built from 1945 to 1954. All the engines – 35 bhp or pairs of 18 bhp – were built by Weyburn’s and used petrol rather than diesel fuel. One of the most notable rescues of the WILLIAM CANTRELL ASHLEY was on 27 and 28 July 1954. Launched into rough sea to the aid of the 90 ton motor ketch PROGRESS, Coxwain George Lamey took WILLIAM CANTRELL ASHLEY alongside a stricken vessel 10 times to rescue 3 crew, the ship’s cat, new born kittens and a canary. He was awarded an RNLI Bronze medal.
Lifeboats preserved as part of the National Historic Fleet are allowed to fly an RNLI ensign with a black border around the cross.
More recently though, McLachlan type inshore lifeboat A-505 is being restored by Craig, the owner of Davis boat yard of Saul. Nine of these were built between 1967 and 1973, powered by two Ford 60hp inboard engines and capable of 25 knots. In the 1950’s Falmouth had one such craft A-503 for evaluation trials. On the 26 April 1976 A503 was called to a hired dingy being sailed single handed in difficulties off Falmouth. The sailing dingy cleared Pendennis Headland and A-503 took the yacht in tow back to St Mawes. The Falmouth lifeboat secretary wrote a glowing account of how useful a craft like this would be for close to shore services. These craft were eventually replaced by the Atlantic 21 class inshore lifeboats.
Ted finished the main part of his presentation with a look at the Gloucester and District Model Boat Club. Highlights among the vessels recreated in miniature were FRESHSPRING (pictured left), which used to supply fresh water to Naval ships moored off Gibraltar. At one time the real FRESHSPRING was moored in Gloucester Docks before moving to Newnham. Here she stayed for many years but is now moored in Bideford where much restoration is taking place. LADY LAURA meanwhile was a diesel tug built for in 1968 for use on the Humber. The model is shown in 1992.