World Ship Society Gloucester Branch 2018 / 2019

Here are the World Ship Society Gloucester Branch meeting details for the 2018 / 2019 season.  All meetings commence at 7.30pm and are held at The Community Space, Tesco Store, St Oswald’s Road, Gloucester, GL1 2SG.  Visitors are requested to sign in at the Customer Services Desk prior to the meetings.  Everyone is welcome.  Visitors are charged a £ 3.00 admission fee per meeting.  Chairman Ken Guest can be contacted on 01452 413511
For our 10 September 2018 meeting John Elliott of the Leicester Society of Model Engineers began the new season with a presentation of his superb 1/96 scale radio controlled model of HMS GLAMORGAN as well as probably the most well prepared and fascinating talk that this branch has ever had the pleasure to receive. We can supply contact details on request.For our 10 September 2018 meeting John Elliott of the Knightcote Model Boat Club began the new season with a presentation of his superb 1/96 scale radio controlled model of HMS GLAMORGAN as well as probably the most well prepared and fascinating talk that this branch has ever had the pleasure to receive.  We can supply contact details on request.
D19 was one of eight County Class destroyers which were the first Royal Navy ships to be fitted with anti aircraft guided missiles.  HMS GLAMORGAN herself – commissioned on 11th October 1964 – remains the only ship ever to be hit by an Exocet missile and survive.
However, the story of the County Class really began with the Allied landings at Salerno, Italy, in 1943 when His Majesty’s Ships UGANDA and WARSPITE were hit with Ruhrstahl FX 1400 glide bombs.  Also known as Fritz X, these were dropped by Dornier 217 aircraft and controlled by radio with an operator aboard the Luftwaffe aircraft using a joystick as he watched the weapon fall. Although the Dornier was vulnerable to fighter attack during the controlled descent of the Fritz X, it was still too far away to be hit by Royal Navy guns.
As the Second World War ended and the Cold War began, the threat of guided air to surface missiles remained and surface to air missiles were developed to protect ships from bomber aircraft. In 1949 Armstrong Whitworth, part of the Hawker Siddeley group of companies which also included Gloster Aircraft, began work on Guided Weapons System 1. As the Second World War ended and the Cold War began, the threat of guided air to surface missiles remained and surface to air missiles were developed to protect ships from bomber aircraft.  In 1949 Armstrong Whitworth, part of the Hawker Siddeley group of companies which also included Gloster Aircraft, began work on Guided Weapons System 1.  This was eventually known as Seaslug.  Although capable of reaching altitudes of 55 000 feet, Seaslug weighed two tons at launch and was 18 feet long.  Like the contemporary Bristol Bloodhound and English Electric Thunderbird surface to air missiles, Seaslug was propelled by a sustaining motor initially boosted by four solid rockets. Unlike the ramjets on Bloodhound however, Seaslug had a rocket motor burning liquid oxygen and petrol.  Also unlike Bloodhound, Seaslug’s solid boosters were attached to the nose and angled outwards at 45 degrees.  This enabled Seaslug to enter a stabilizing roll after launch, removing the need for the big fins used on Bloodhound and Thunderbird.  Its electronics were also based on valve rather than transistor technology as this was felt to be more robust in a shipboard environment but Bloodhound, Thunderbird and Seaslug all followed an illuminating radar beam to the target.
During the 1950s, much of the Royal Navy's fleet dated back to World War 2, including destroyers with open bridges that would have been totally unsuitable for nuclear war. Similarly, new escorts were needed for the Royal Navy's fleet carriers but Treasury cutbacks meant that new cruisers were not an option. As a result, the County Class destroyers were designed around Seaslug while also retaining two forward turrets armed with pairs of 4.5" guns.During the 1950s, much of the Royal Navy’s fleet dated back to World War 2, including destroyers with open bridges that would have been totally unsuitable for nuclear war.  Similarly, new escorts were needed for the Royal Navy’s fleet carriers but Treasury cutbacks meant that new cruisers were not an option.  As a result, the County Class destroyers were designed around Seaslug while also retaining two forward turrets armed with pairs of 4.5″ guns. The presence of a Command Centre and big rooms for the computers of the day along with an unarmoured 24 round Seaslug magazine which occupied one third of the vessel above the waterline meant that the County Class destroyers were almost the same size as a World War II cruiser.  The combined steam and gas turbine powerplant was also large and required a large gearbox.
In 1961 HMS Ashanti was the first of the gas turbine powered Type 81 Tribal Class of Royal Navy frigates to be commissioned. These vessels in fact featured combined steam and gas turbine (COSAG) propulsion in which the waste heat from the gas turbine is used to boil water into superheated steam for a steam turbine. Such a system is more thermally efficient than using a gas turbine on its own, such geared gas turbines burning the most expensive fuel and only truly cost effective under constant heavy load. Also of interest in this picture is the Westland Scout on HMS Ashanti’s flight deck – F117 having been used for trials of this gas turbine helicopter.In 1961 HMS Ashanti (left) had become the first gas turbine powered Royal Navy frigate to be commissioned and also the first with combined steam and gas turbine (COSAG) propulsion.  In this system the waste heat from the gas turbine is used to boil water into superheated steam for a steam turbine.  Such a system is more thermally efficient than using a gas turbine on its own, such geared gas turbines burning the most expensive fuel and only truly cost effective under constant heavy load
 In turn, the County Class destroyers required a crew of 560 compared to the later Type 42 ships which only needed a crew of 250.  This made them expensive in terms of pay and logistics.
The County Class destroyers were further stretched when, in 1957, a flight deck and hangar for a Westland Wesssex helicopter was added to give the County Class destroyers an enhanced Anti Submarine Warfare capacity. The County Class destroyers were further stretched when, in 1957, a flight deck and hangar for a Westland Wesssex helicopter was added to give the County Class destroyers an enhanced Anti Submarine Warfare capacity.  One design flaw of this addition was that to enter the hangar, the Wessex would have to have its rotors folded to the back and then be mounted on a wheeled dolly.  The helicopter would then have to be rolled to the hangar side door and carefully inserted.  This task took an hour at the best of times and was not easy in rough sea conditions.
The hangar did however support the Type 901 fire control radar for the Seaslug.  Once the destroyer’s mast mounted Type 965 air search radar had identified a hostile aircraft, the Type 901 would track the target and illuminate it with a narrow spiral beam along which the Seaslug would ride.  The Seaslugs themselves would be assembled by armourers as they passed along the magazine to the automated twin launcher.  Either high explosive blast or rod warheads could be added, guidance gyros would be spun up and data from the ship’s computers – 10 000 times less powerful than a modern mobile phone –  uploaded  through a 24 pin socket.  The launcher itself weighed 50 tons and was fully steerable through 360 degrees with a wide range of elevation.
Once launched, the four solid boosters would fall away from the nose of the Seaslug after three seconds when the missile was travelling at 800 mph allowing the sustainer rocket to continue well past Mach one.  According to Armstrong Whitworth’s own “Seaslug News”, the missile could knock out test drone targets just by hitting them with 97% accuracy, but the 40 lb high explosive warhead was fused to detonate at 50′.  The alternative rod warhead would produce a ring of steel rods which could cut through an airframe like a guillotine.
In addition, the two 4.5″ Vickers Mark 6 guns in each of the forward turrets could be elevated to 45 degrees and fire 20 rounds a minute for two minutes against enemy aircraft.  Close to the helicopter hangar on each side though, the County Class destroyers were also armed with quadruple launchers and a director’s position for Shorts Seacat point defence missiles.  Although considered easy to install, maintain and use, Seacat was developed from a line of sight anti tank missile. As a result, despite using a microwave control system and being more able than the Bofors gun it replaced at shooting down subsonic missiles and aircraft, its top speed was only Mach 0.8 and accurate control was only possible after seven seconds of flight.
HMS DEVONSHIRE, the first of the County Class destroyers, was built by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead and commissioned on 15 November 1962 followed by HAMPSHIRE, KENT and then LONDON – built by Swan Hunter of Wallsend on Tyne and commissioned on 14 November 1963.
HMS DEVONSHIRE became the subject of a 1963 Airfix kit while HMS LONDON fired the last ever broadside from a Royal Navy ship on 10 December 1981.
The second batch of County Class destroyers began with HMS FIFE, built by Fairfields of Glasgow and commissioned on 21 June 1966.  HMS GLAMORGAN built by Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle and commissioned on 14 October 1966 was next while the final County Class vessel – HMS NORFOLK  – was another Swan Hunter product commissioned on 7 March 1970.  In all, three each of the County Class destroyers were built on the Clyde and Tyne with HMS DEVONSHIRE on the Mersey and HMS Kent by Harland and Wolff in Belfast.
The second batch of County Class destroyers were identifiable by the presence of two mast top  AKE-1  “bedstead” antennae for the Type 965 air search radar rather than the one fitted to the batch one vessels. New versions of Seaslug and Seacat were also installed and after 1973 the second batch ships had their B turrets replaced by quadruple MM38 Exocet surface to surface missile launchers.
The French Aerospatiale Exocet (pictured) lived up to the flying fish derivation of its name by skimming two metres above the sea at nearly  Mach One.  Most of its flight – with a 40 mile range – was inertially guided with an active radar only switching on a few hundred metres from the target.
 The Royal Navy task force mainly kept to the east of the Islands outside the range of Argentina's French built Super Etendard bombers and their AM39 version of the Exocet missile.The Royal Navy did not upgrade the batch one County Class destroyers and by 1982 they had either been scrapped, sold abroad or stored unserviceable.  Of the four second batch Counties, Her Majesty’s Ships  ANTRIM and GLAMORGAN participated in Operation Corporate, the the struggle to re occupy the Falkland Islands between 2 April and 14 June 1982.
Early April 1982 found most of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean for its annual Spring Train exercise, with HMS GLAMORGAN carrying no live Seaslug missiles.  Ships then proceeded to  Ascension Island in the South Atlantic to refuel and re-arm before continuing to the Falklands.  As a result, Wideawake airfield on the Moon like black volcanic island became the busiest in the World.
Another issue was the lack of suitable charts, the navigating officer of HMS GLAMORGAN using a copy of the Times' Children's Atlas to reach Ascension Island. By 29 April however, HMS GLAMORGAN had entered the British imposed 200 mile radius Total Exclusion Zone around the Falklands. Another issue was the lack of suitable charts, the navigating officer of HMS GLAMORGAN using a copy of the Times’ Children’s Atlas to reach Ascension Island.  By 29 April however, HMS GLAMORGAN had entered the British imposed 200 mile radius Total Exclusion Zone around the Falklands.  The Royal Navy task force mainly kept to the east of the Islands outside the range of Argentina’s French built Super Etendard bombers and their AM39 version of the Exocet missile.  Also to the east of the Falklands was the Towing, Repair and Logistics Area (TRALA) for commandeered civilian ships.
Following the first Black Buck raid by Avro Vulcan bombers, Port Stanley airfield came under shore bombardment from Her Majesty’s Ships GLAMORGAN, ARROW AND ALACRITY on Saturday 1 May 1982 with D19 delivering 100 4.5″ rounds before the destroyer and two frigates were attacked by Argentine IAI Dagger aircraft.  These dropped 500 lb bombs, one of which caused minor underwater damage to HMS GLAMORGAN.
Sunday 2 May saw the sinking of ARA Belgrano by HMS Conqueror and the rest of the Argentine Navy – including their sole aircraft carrier – retire to port while on Saturday 15 May  D19 supported D Squadron SAS who eventually managed to destroy 24 Argentine aircraft on Pebble Island airstrip.  The Special Air Service were able to radio for salvos to be fired from 8 miles away and land within 50 yards of their position.
Friday 21 May 1982 saw HMS ANTRIM fire two Seaslugs in anger for the only time as anti aircraft weapons.  Although designed to intercept high flying bombers, the guided missiles were on this occasion aimed at incoming A4 Skyhawk attack aircraft, flying at the extent of their range.  Although the Seaslugs missed their targets, the boosters stayed on for longer than expected before separating.  So alarmed at this were the Argentine pilots that they dropped their 1000 lb bombs – which had been slowing them down – harmlessly and returned to base.  To save weight they were carrying no gun ammunition.
On Wednesday 26 May  D19 herself fired the first Seaslugs in bombardment role at Port Stanley airfield, the missiles dropping out of their guiding radar beams in freefall.  As a result a circle of Argentine helicopters and a radar hut were destroyed.  HMS GLAMORGAN was tasked with protecting ships in the TRALA on 31 May 1982 but came inshore on Friday 11 June to offer gun bombardment in support Royal Marine commandos.
At 0636 on the morning of Saturday 12 June 1982 however, HMS GLAMORGAN was hit by an MM38 Exocet missile.  This had been one of two mounted on an wheeled trailer after being cannibalised from the destroyer ARA Segui and flown to the Falklands by Lockheed C-130 Hercules. One Exocet had eventually launched but failed to find its target ( flying high over HMS YARMOUTH nearby) but the second left its beach launching position and travelled 18 miles towards D19 which was steaming at 20 knots.  Fortunately the Exocet was being tracked by HMS GLAMORGAN, which was rapidly turned to try and present the stern to the incoming missile to minimise the chance of impact.  While heeling over to starboard, the port Seacat installation also tried to engage and destroy the much faster Exocet, which then bounced off the ship’s coaming .  It has been suggested that the Exocet’s active seeker head was attracted by the microwave radiation from the Seacat’s Type 965 radar, but after skidding across the deck the Exocet it penetrated the hangar door and detonated.  This knocked out the Type 901 radar above, exploded the fully armed and fuelled Wessex helicopter inside and destroyed the galley below.  Eight crew in the galley and two helicopter crew were killed but although a fireball went through a vent to the gas turbine room the steam turbines kept moving the ship forwards at 17 knots and electrical power was maintained. However, emergency action was need to keep D19 from capsizing as it listed towards eight degrees.  Had the Exocet hit D19 square on amidships though, the whole Seaslug magazine could have exploded – a situation similar to the loss of HMS Hood in 1941.
With no reason to abandon ship, HMS GLAMORGAN steamed to the TRALA and the galley and gas turbines were repaired by the maintenance technicians aboard the former North Sea oil support ship MSV STENA SEASPREAD .  After returning to Portsmouth on 10 July 1982, D19 was given the hangar from HMS DEVONSHIRE, which was later deliberately sunk during a weapons testing exercise in 1984.  HMS KENT meanwhile would serve as a floating (though immobile) accommodation and training ship in Portsmouth harbour until 1996.
In its final Royal Navy guise – and as modelled by Mr Elliott – HMS GLAMORGAN was fitted with new anti-submarine torpedo tubes and the Wessex helicopter was substituted for a smaller Westland Lynx.  The Seacat missile system was also removed – along with the Batch Two Counties’ unique Royal Navy boast of having three guided missile systems – and replaced with 40mm Bofors guns.  In 1986 HMS GLAMORGAN was decommissioned and joined the other three Batch 2 Counties in being sold to the Chilean Navy.  As such D19 was renamed ALMIRANTE LATORRE and served until 1998.  On 11 April 2005, she sank in the South Pacific while under tow to be broken up.
A warship must be able to defend itself – either with missiles and lasers as on Dreadnought 2050 or with systems like the General Dynamics Goalkeeper rapid fire gun seen here - and attack enemy assets while occupying a place in or on the sea, moving as needed and, most importantly, moving with the lowest profile as a conflict develops. As we have already seen on Dreadnought 2050, offensive armament includes an electromagnetic gun, advanced torpedoes and uninhabited aerial vehicles. The vessel also has the ability to remotely receive commands, transmit information, sense its environment and interpret information received.In the 21st Century, the close protection of surface ships is often handled by more advanced missiles than Seacat (such as Seawolf) or  automatic rapid firing radar controlled guns such as the Dutch built Thales Phalanx or General Dynamics Goalkeeper systems.  These typically fire over 3 000 30mm calibre depleted uranium shells a second but can use as few as 75 rounds to shoot down an incoming Exocet or even a 4.5 inch shell.  Similarly, the Seaslug missiles carried aboard D19 were joined in the Falklands and later conflicts by smaller and more capable Sea Dart missiles.
With 1/8″ representing one foot of the real ship, John Elliott’s 1/96 scale model of HMS GLAMORGAN was built over 20 years between 1989 and 2009 and is fully radio controlled.  The GRP hull was purchased complete but has been strengthened with 12 wooden bulkheads.  The gun turrets were resin moulded and the gun barrels made of brass.  The revolving “double bedstead” air search radar antennae typical of the Batch 2 Counties was made from an etched brass kit hot air soldered together while the Seaslug launcher was scratch built of aluminium and wood.  This could now be 3D printed, just as the solid pre made funnels could now be made hollow and lighter.  The Lynx helicopter and sea boats were made from plastic kits and the signal flags read – D 1 9.
Built for the Royal Yacht Squadron to challenge for the 17th America’s Cup in 1958, Sceptre, believed to be the only UK challenger for this prestigious event still sailing in British waters. Designed by David Boyd and built in Alexander Robertson's yard in Holy Loch - later famous as the British base for America's ballistic nuclear submarine fleet. - Sceptre's hull was constructed from Honduras mahogany planking on alternate oak and steel ribs allied to a 17 ton lead keel. Although Sceptre was soundly beaten by the American defender Columbia over seven races at Newport, Rhode Island,the 2.99 metre draft British vessel then went on to be a very successful racing yacht in the 1960s. She was converted to a cruising yacht between 1978-86, and since then has been owned and sailed, predominantly in British waters, by the Sceptre Preservation Society.For our Monday 8 October 2018 meeting, member Ted Tedaldi presented  “A shipping medley”  of his photographs.  As might be expected, Gloucester Docks was well represented including the yacht SCEPTRE.  This 1958 America’s Cup contestant (seen in action, left) was first pictured at Christmas 2015 after repairs had been made to the bow section ribs which had rusted through due to the storage of damp sails.  The 12 metre yacht was then seen sailing from Sharpness on Maundy Thursday 25 March 2016 although she has since returned to Gloucester to have her completely rotten deck replaced.  She left again in June 2018.

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.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.

Although the Massey Shaw arrived in Gloucester on a lorry on 31 March 2011, it sailed back to London via Lands End and the Isle of Wight in November 2013 and is currently being prepared to cross the English Channel to Dunkirk and take part in the 75th Anniversary commemorations of Operation Dynamo.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.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.

As you might have noticed from the previous picture, what were eventually referred to as Invincible Class aircraft carriers featured a so-called ski ramp which allowed its Sea Harriers to combine a rolling take off – as the ship has no catapults – with the thrust vectoring that also allows this type of aircraft to land vertically, fly backwards and even VIFF – or vector in forward flight – so that a pursuing aircraft will rapidly overtake the Harrier and allow its air to air missiles to lock on to the opponent’s hot exhaust. VIFFing was one technique successfully used against Argentine Skyhawk fighters in the Falklands War of 1982 although the Royal Navy’s Sea Harriers were retired in 2010 and Her Majesty’s ships Invincible and Ark Royal subsequently scrapped, leaving only HMS Illustrious to fly helicopters.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 2004To 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 2017In 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.

 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.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.

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. 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.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.

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.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.

“Solent Ferries” was the title of the Powerpoint presentation given by Chairman Ken Guest on Monday 10 November 2014. Ken's photographs went back to the 1960s and covered the Portsmouth-Ryde, Lymington-Yarmouth, Cowes-Southampton and Portsmouth to Fisbourne and Gosport ferries as well as hovercraft on the Southsea-Ryde service. Ferries included paddle steamers, jet foils and fast catamarans against a background of larger vessels including the Cunard liners Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Mary II as well as the Royal Yacht Britannia and varied warships from a number of nation's navies. Vantage points for Ken's high standard of photography embraced the Hythe pier with its narrow gauge electric railway and the church tower in Rye from which the 1977 Silver Jubilee Naval Review was captured. Thank you Ken for a most interesting and enjoyable evening.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.

lso braving the often rough seas between the Scilly Isles and Cornwall was SCILLONIAN III (IMO 7527796, 1 346 grt).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. 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.

Ted recalled

“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.

Hugh's final film was of the former RFA FRESHSPRING at Newnham on the River Severn, including interviews with the late Oswald Burgess and WSS Gloucester Branch member John Hooper.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.

 

For our Monday 12 November 2018 meeting Simon Battisby presented a most informative talk on HMS VICTORY, which has been open to the public in Portsmouth's Number 2 Dry Dock since 1928. For our Monday 12 November 2018 meeting Simon Battisby presented a most informative talk on HMS VICTORY, which has been open to the public in Portsmouth’s Number 2 Dry Dock since 1928.  Having started his maritime career polishing brass aboard the Training Ship ARETHUSA on the River Medway, Simon later served with HMS GANGES and then joined the Merchant Navy as a Shipping Federation Pool Seaman, often working on Fyffes banana boats as they sailed to tropical ports and returned with a clean cargo.  After permanently coming ashore in the 1980s, Simon heard a radio appeal for guides for HMS VICTORY and worked aboard the Royal Navy’s oldest commissioned warship until 2008.
In December 1758, First Lord of the Treasury William Pitt the Elder placed an order for the building of 12 new Royal Navy ships, including a first rate ship that would become HMS VICTORY.  This vessel was one of just ten first rate ships to be constructed for Britain’s Senior Service in the 18th Century with a design by Sir Thomas Slade based on that of HMS ROYAL GEORGE, launched at Woolwich Dockyard in 1756.  Slade’s design featured a tumblehome hull –  with the beam at the waterline wider than the gunwhales – and rounded apple cheek bows to stop the bowsprit being ripped off in rough seas.
The need for a first rate ship was Britain’s involvement in the Seven Years War.  Since 1756, Britain had led a coalition of Portugal, Prussia and Hanover against another led by France and including Spain, Russia and the Holy Roman Empire.
1759, in which the keel of the new first rate ship was laid down at Chatham, became known as the Year of Miracles following land victories for Britain at Quebec and Minden and naval successes at Lagos and Quiberon Bay.  However, although the name VICTORY may have been chosen to reflect Britain’s prevalence at the time it had also been carried by five earlier Royal Navy vessels.  The earliest of these, formerly named GREAT CHRISTOPHER, was purchased in 1569 and gained battle honours against the Spanish Armada of 1588.  The previous first rate HMS VICTORY though – launched in 1737 – had been lost with all hands in 1744.
A team of 150 workmen constructed the frame of HMS VICTORY from around 6 000 trees, 90% of which were oak from the Wealds of Kent and Sussex although Forest of Dean timber would be used for 20th Century restoration work. A team of 150 workmen constructed the frame of HMS VICTORY from around 6 000 trees, 90% of which were oak from the Wealds of Kent and Sussex although Forest of Dean timber would be used for 20th Century restoration work.  Other timber used included lignum vitae, pine, fir – and elm which formed the seven scarf-jointed sections of the 21″ deep keel.  Components, carefully drawn to scale and then scribed up to full size in a moulding loft, were held together with iron bolts to 1/8* tolerances.
Once the ship’s frame had been built, it was normal to cover it up and leave it for several months to allow the wood to dry out or season.  However, the end of the Seven Year’s War in 1763 meant that VICTORY remained in this condition for nearly three years, which helped her subsequent longevity. Eventually, on 7 May 1765, the new vessel was floated and a list to starboard was corrected with ballast.
Fitting out then continued slowly with pole type fore, main and mizzen mainmasts ( made from a single tree) being added using a masting hulk: essentially a floating crane.  Flat fighting tops at the top of each mainmast provided the foundation for removable topmasts and top gallants.  Static rigging lines supporting the mainmasts and held by deadeyes on the sides of the hull were tarred, unlike running rigging which controlled the spread of the sails.  In fact most of the steering of a three masted vessel at this time was via the sails although VICTORY did have a wheel actuated rudder.
Sea trials on VICTORY were completed in 1769 after which the reassuringly stable vessel was moored in the River Medway until 1778 when France joined the American War of Independence.  Her weaponry was intended to be thirty 42-pounders on her lower deck, twenty-eight 24 pounder long guns on her middle deck, and thirty 12-pounders on her upper deck, together with twelve 6-pounders on her quarterdeck and forecastle.  In May 1778, the 42-pounders were replaced by 32-pounders, but the 42-pounders were reinstated in April 1779; however there were insufficient 42-pounders available and these were replaced with 32-pounder cannons instead. Armament was slightly upgraded in 1782 with the replacement of all of her 6-pounders with 12-pounder cannons. Later, VICTORY also carried two carronade guns firing 68lb round shot.
In March 1780 the ship’s hull was sheathed with 3 923 sheets of copper below the waterline to protect it against shipworm and gribble crabs.  The elimination of drag caused by these parasites made VICTORY faster although the bolts holding the planks of the hull to the ribs and other iron fittings corroded due to electrolysis.  They were replaced with bronze or copper fitments.  In 1781 meanwhile yellow ochre paint was applied to the sides of the hull and in 1787 the keel was stiffened to counteract hogging and the masts repositioned to improve sailing qualities.
On her return to England after the 1797 Battle of Cape St Vincent, VICTORY was examined for seaworthiness and found to have significant weaknesses in her stern timbers. She was declared unfit for active service and left anchored off Chatham Dockyard prior to conversion to a hospital ship to hold wounded prisoners from the war against Napoleon.  However, on 8 October 1799, HMS IMPREGNABLE was lost off Chichester.  Now short of a first rate ship, the Admiralty decided to recondition VICTORY.  Extra gun ports were added, taking her from 100 guns to 104, and her magazine lined with copper. The open galleries along her stern were removed; her figurehead replaced with the item visible today and her original pole masts were replaced by multi-core composite types. Her gun ports were originally yellow to match the hull, but later repainted black, giving a pattern later called the Nelson Chequer  which was adopted by most Royal Navy ships later in the decade.  The work was completed in April 1803.
In the same way, the ape man’s bone could also be used as a weapon as could the stone and metal implements that followed on. Similarly too, these could be used on boats and ships – gradually gaining more precision and longer range as longbows were replaced by crossbows and then guns. Famously at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson was killed by a musket ball fired by a sniper in the rigging of an enemy ship. Like HMS Victory, this would have had its own muzzle loading cannon able to fire broadsides from the hull - and tall masts to carry both an expanse of sail and a crow’s nest from which a lookout would have been able to see ships and land at some great distance.On 21 October 1805, HMS VICTORY was the flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar and also the scene of his death after he was shot in the left shoulder and spine by a musket ball fired from the rigging of a French ship.  VICTORY was so badly damaged in the battle that she had to be towed to Gibraltar for repairs, but then carried Nelson’s body back to England.  After a chequered post-Trafalgar career as a a troopship, depot and prison vessel, January 1824 saw VICTORY designated as the Port Admiral’s flagship for Portsmouth Harbour and remained in this role until April 1830. After a public outcry, Naval plans to scrap Nelson’s flagship were abandoned and civilian visitors allowed on board for the first time although during the Victorian era little was done to preserve the fabric of HMS VICTORY.  The spectre of scrapping loomed again in 1903 but the personal intervention of King Edward VII and the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar prevented this.  In 1910 the Society for Nautical Research was established to try and save the venerable ship and on 12 January 1922, barely able to float, she was moved to Portsmouth’s Number 2 Dry Dock where she remains today.  On 5 March 2012, when ownership of HMS VICTORY was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to a dedicated HMS Victory Preservation Trust, established as part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

 

 

Monday 14 January 2019                   Panama Transit                                         by Keith Reed
Monday 11 February 2019                 Falklands Shipping and more                   by  WSS Film Library
Monday 11 March 2019                     Singapore Scenes & Shipping                   by Ken Guest
Monday 8  April 2019                         Brunel’s SS Great Britain                          by Ian Caskie
Monday 13 May 2019                         A late 60s life at sea + AGM                     by Russell Judge