Thames Ship Society



                    2009 Review                       (Updated 25th Oct 2009)     

Saturday 31st January 2009 - Winter Social.

The first event of 2009 was the Winter Social. This year we returned to the Churchill Hotel, on the seafront at Dover. Fourty-three TSS members participated in the event.

For the third year running the weather was kind to us. It was cold, crisp, sunny, winter's day. After welcoming drinks in the bar we sat down to an enjoyable three course meal followed by coffee.

We then had a slide show given by Andrew Humphreys, assisted by Mike Jackson, entitled "East Kent Shipping". This consisted of slides taken mainly in Ramsgate and Dover from when Andrew used to work at these ports. The slides contained ships of varying types and vintages, many, regrettably, no longer seen around our shores these days.

Some members made a weekend of it and stayed at the hotel on Saturday night. Several took advantage of an organised tour around the Coastguard Station at Dover on Sunday, which has commanding views over the Channel as far as the coast of France.

Thanks to Paul and Carol Mason for organising the weekend and to Andrew Humphreys and Mike Jackson for providing the slide show and organising the coastguard visit.

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SEAFRANCE MOLIERE departing from Dover on 31st January 2009.


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Huelin-Renouf's SOUL SOUND was in Ocean Dock during our cruise.

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ORIANA was undergoing maintenance at the QE II Terminal.

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GRANDE SPAGNA was in the Western Docks.

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STADIONGRACHT loading yachts at 202 berth.

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The LNG Carrier MARGARET HILL laid up at 201 berth in the Western Docks.

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CHRISTA KERSTIN was also in the Western Docks.

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The huge CMA CGM VELA dwarfed the other container ships at the container terminal.

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HELLAS SYMPHONY was at the BP Jetty at Hamble.

(Report and Photographs by Chris Brooks.)

Saturday 4th April 2009 - AGM and Southampton Harbour Cruise.

This year's AGM was held board Blue Funnel's vessel, Ocean Scene, at Ocean Village, Southampton. 44 TSS members attended the event.

We were lucky to be graced with a beautiful sunny day - in fact the last four AGM's have taken place on very nice days - let's hope it continues in that way!

First of all, an excellent three course lunch was  served on board followed by coffee. After lunch the AGM meeting commenced, which was efficiently conducted by our chairman Paul Mason. The existing committee members were re-elected to serve for another year.

Following the AGM meeting we cast off from Ocean Village for our cruise of Southampton Docks and Southampton Water up as far as Calshot. The sun was still out thankfully!

Coming out of Ocean Village the vehicle carrier Aida was just departing from her berth in the River Itchen, we caught her up and had a good view of her departure. Then around dockhead to the Queen Elizabeth II terminal where P&O's Oriana was undergoing some maintenance, having returned from her world cruise a few days previously.

Berthed in Ocean Dock, was the Soul Sound, the temporary vessel running Huelin-Renouf's service to the Channel Islands, before their newbuilding arrives. Also under construction on the opposite side of the dock is the new cruise terminal due to be opened later on this year.

Then on to the Western Docks, where the Grande Spagna and Christa Kerstin were berthed as well as the laid up LNG carrier Margaret Hill and Spliethoff's Stadiongracht, loading yachts for Gibraltar.

At the container terminal the huge CMA CGM Vela dominated the scene, making the Liverpool Express and NYK Orion look decidedly small. She can carry 10,980 TEU and has a length of  347 metres.

Leaving Southampton Harbour, we proceeded down Southampton Water, where we photographed the anchor handling tug / supply vessel Kingdom of Fife which was performing maintenance on mooring buoys in Southampton Water. There were just a few small tankers on Fawley, two larger ones had left earlier in the day, but the Hellas Symphony was berthed at the BP jetty at Hamble.

We proceeded as far as Calshot before out time ran out - we could just see in the distance the American aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt anchored in the Solent.

We arrived back at Ocean Village after a very pleasant cruise at about 6pm where the events finished.

With grateful thanks to Simon Martin for organising the day and the members of the committee for making it all happen. Lastly thanks to Captain Sid and the crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well - as they always do. 

Saturday 18th April 2009 - Portishead Ship Show

We had a table at the Portishead Ship Show, where a members of the committee were in attendance. Thanks to everyone who visited our table or came along to say hello.

23rd to 27th April 2009 - Poland Ports Chill Out

The title of the trip was "Polish Ports Chill Out", so, we were expecting it to be cold in Poland at this time of the year. How wrong could we be? Thirty three TSS members arrived at Luton Airport, for our 6am departure to Gdansk via "Wizz Air". Surprisingly, we arrived at Gdansk in warm spring sunshine and for our entire stay in Poland it was sunny with temperatures in the high teens - very unseasonable weather!  

Soon after our arrival at Gdansk and the short coach transfer, we were checking into the Hotel Hanza located in the very pleasant old part of the town, on the waterfront, where many restaurants and places of interest are located. Directly opposite our hotel, the preserved cargo ship SOLDEK was berthed, part of the maritime museum.

Shortly after arrival a large number of our members congregated for the 14:00 public boat trip down to Westerplatte which departed a short walk from our hotel. This cruise passes through the docks and shipyards as far as the entrance of the port, before dropping sightseers off at Westerplatte peninsula where the first shots of the Second World War were fired. Most of our members stayed on the boat for the return trip through the docks! This boat trip would be a regular attraction for the next four days as it allowed photography of the shipping in the main river areas of the port. Our first sightings included the newly fitted out supply vessel NORMAND PROSPER, the Turkish bulk carrier ORHAN EKINCI, tanker S/R WILMINGTON in the Remontowa Shipyard and the various tugs stationed in the port.

Friday morning saw the first organised cruise of the visit, this was around Gdansk docks - a more comprehensive cruise than the public vessel, which allowed us to photograph and log more vessels in the extensive shipyards as well as the more out of the way berths Gdansk. We were accompanied by an English speaking guide and a member of the port authority who were able to give us a comprehensive commentary about the workings of the port. Highlights of the shipping photographed on this cruise was the bulk carrier LEONID SOBOLEV, unloading coal and the reefer SARAMATI berthed in the Nowy Port.

On disembarking from our vessel we travelled by coach to Gdynia, which is about 45 minutes away from Gdansk. Here it was planned to have a cruise around the port organised by the local port authority. However, or arrival we learned that the port authority did not have a boat available, so we had a guided tour of the port by coach instead, stopping at various locations in order to take photographs. Gdynia port houses a major naval base which had a number of vessels present including two Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates formerly in the US Navy, the ORP GEN. T. KOSCIUSZKO, and the ORP GEN. K. PULASKI Also in port was the preserved ORP BLYSKAWICA, a Grom-class destroyer, built for the Polish Navy by J. Samuel White in Cowes and launched in 1937. This vessel is now a museum ship in Gdynia.

As well as the naval vessels present, a number of commercial vessels were sighted including the bulk woodchip carrier KEOYANG NOBLE, general cargo ship CONWEST, vehicle carrier AIDA and ro-ro INWROCLAW as well as a number of interesting local tugs and vessels under construction in the shipyards. On completion of our port tour we made our way back to our hotel in Gdansk.

On Saturday, we departed from the hotel at the early hour of 06:30 in order to commence our six hour coach trip to Szczecin. We arrived at Szczecin at 12:30, for our four hour private cruise of the port. The cargo handling berths in this port were quite quiet, but a few vessels were photographed, including the general cargo ship SVENDBORG, Polsteam bulk carrier NOGAT and the SCL MARGRIT which was loading grain.We then made our way downriver via the large lake which borders the port, but is unfortunately devoid of shipping. On joining the river again we then proceeded back to our starting point via the busy shipyard, which yielded several interesting vessels, including the Ukrainian fish-factory BORIS DEREVYANKO, Russian fish-factory LIRA, Polsteam bulk carrier ISA, general cargo ships SENYA and ADELAIDE, newbuilding container ship FESCO VLADIMIR and numerous local tugs. Of particular interest was the BEMBRIDGE, a former Trinity House pilot vessel, which was recently towed from Gillingham to Szczecin. She had been used as a club house for the yacht club at Leigh-on-Sea for many years. It is intended to restore the vessel and use her as an office in Poland. We arrived back at our hotel in Gdansk at 10pm, after the long journey back from Szczecin.  

Sunday was a free day, where participants could do their own thing. Members of the party, explored the city of Gdansk, took the public boat trips down the river to Westerplatte, viewing any new arrivals in Gdansk harbour or travelled further afield.

All too soon, the last day of our tour arrived, we were due to depart from the hotel at 15:30, so there was time to have one last public boat trip down the river to view any new arrivals in the port, before lunch and our departure by coach to the airport. 

Our Wizz Air flight was on time and we arrived back at Luton Airport at 19:30 where the tour ended and goodbyes were said.

With thanks to Mark Teadham whose idea it was to visit Poland for the first time in many years. Mark also organised and lead the trip assisted by Roger Hammond and thanks to other members of the committee for assisting behind the scenes. Also, thanks to whoever organised the fantastic weather! 

(Report and Photographs by Chris Brooks.)

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The museum ship SOLDEK was moored opposite our hotel in Gdansk.

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The newbuild NORMAND PROSPER moored in Gdansk.

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ORHAN EKINCI was moored near the shipyards in Gdansk.

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The tanker S/R WILMINGTON in one of the Remontowa Gdansk dry-docks.

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The reefer SARAMATI in the Nowy Port, Gdansk during our harbour cruise.

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RO FJORD under construction in one of the shipyards in Gdansk.

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LEONID SOBOLEV discharging coal at Gdansk.

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Attractive tug AJAKS is one of the tugs stationed in Gdansk.

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CONWEST at Gdynia during our port visit.

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The museum ship ORP BLYSKAWICA at Gdynia during our visit.

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Polish naval vessel ORP GEN. T. KOSCIUSZKO at Gdynia.

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The large fish factory BORIS DEREVYANKO photographed during our Szczecin harbour cruise.

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Polsteam bulk carrier ISA in the shipyards at Szczecin.

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General cargo ships SENYA and ADELAIDE were at Szczecin during our visit.

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EEMS DELFIA hurrying up the Thames having arrived from Greenore.

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FREJA POLARIS was berthed at Coryton.

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The Freedom type bulk carrier RADNOR was in Southend anchorage awaiting a berth.

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The Fortune type bulk carrier DEVON was also in Southend Anchorage.

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LNG tanker MARAN GAS CORONIS was berthed in the Medway.

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EVER SAFETY at Thamesport.

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MONTE ROSA at Northfleet Hope Container Terminal.

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MARIDA MALLOW at Vopak's terminal on the Thames.

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Cobelfret's AQUILINE is employed on a service to Rotterdam.

Report and Photographs provided by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 30th May 2009 - Thames and Medway Cruise

On a beautifully sunny, but blustery, morning 59 TSS members assembled at Gravesend for the first Thames and Medway trip of the year, on board our old friend the Princess Pocahontas.

A number of members were aware that two interesting bulk carriers (a Freedom type and a Fortune type) were out in Southend Anchorage, awaiting a berth on the Tate and Lyle jetty at Silvertown, further up the River Thames. We were hoping that we would be able to get to the anchorage as a keen wind was blowing up the river with increasing wind strength forecast.

We set out, downriver, in order to cover the anchorage and River Medway before the increasing wind would make it too rough to do so. Shortly after departing we passed the inbound feeder container ship ORION and the coaster EEMS DELFIA inbound for Tilbury Dock and Thames Wharf respectively. On our way downriver we passed the tanker SOVEREIGN at Shellhaven followed by the tankers EK-SKY, FREJA POLARIS and SIGAS CENTURION at Coryton. The YARA GAS III was also photographed inward bound for Harrison's Wharf.

On the horizon we could see the two bulk carriers and a ro-ro in Southend Anchorage, so we made directly for them. The bulk carriers were the Freedom type RADNOR, built in 1975 and the Fortune type DEVON built in 1981. Both types of vessel are only seen rarely in Northern European waters, and to see the two of them anchored together was very unusual. We were able to take excellent photographs of both vessels as well as the Cobelfret ro-ro CELANDINE.

Having completed the anchorage we moved on to the River Medway, where the large LNG tanker MARAN GAS CORONIS, built in 2007, in South Korea, was berthed. As well as the LNG tanker, the ro-ro TRANS PINE was at Sheerness. Thamesport provided us with photographs of the container vessels EVER SAFETY and COPENHAGEN EXPRESS which was arriving with tugs in attendance.

Having covered the Medway, we turned back into the Thames and started off upriver in order to cover the berths above Gravesend. At this point our ploughman's lunches were served.

Eventually, we found ourselves passing Gravesend, bound for the upriver berths. The large container ship MONTE ROSA was at Northfleet Hope container terminal. Shortly afterwards we passed the small tanker BROVIG BORA. At the Vopak terminal were the tankers BRO ATLAND and MARIDA MALLOW.

The usual Cobelfret ro-ro's were berthed upriver from the Dartford crossing - this time the AQUILINE and the departing CLEMENTINE were present. Across the river from them was Carisbrooke's NATACHA C.

On our way back downriver, we passed the MONTE ROSA again, which was getting ready for departure with tugs in attendance. Before arriving back at Gravesend we were finally overtaken by the outbound CLEMENTINE. Just after saying our goodbyes and disembarking from the Princess Pocahontas we also witnessed the departing MONTE ROSA with two tugs escorting her downriver. 

All that remains is to thank the captain and crew of the Princess Pocahontas for looking after us so well - as they always do. Thanks also go to Mick Axford and other members of the committee for organising another successful and enjoyable Thames and Medway Cruise.

Saturday 13th June 2009  - Solent Cruise (1)

Fifty nine TSS members participated in the first Solent Cruise of the year. The weather forecast had predicted a dry, but, gloomy day. We were therefore rather pleased when the sun came out mid morning before our cruise commenced at noon. 

The cruise ships Queen Mary 2, Norwegian Jade and Grand Princess were in Southampton today so the cruise ship enthusiasts were well catered for. 

We set off from Ocean Village and started by covering the docks at Southampton. The dredger SAND WEAVER was the first vessel logged, she was on 39 berth and had been towed in earlier in the week - presumably with some engine problems. Immediately ahead of her was the general cargo ship CEC MEADOW, which had arrived on the previous Thursday from America with the new fast ferry RED JET 5 as cargo. Unfortunately the RED JET 5 had gone to Portsmouth for a refit before entering service for Red Funnel so we did not see her.

Ahead of the CEC MEADOW were the two new, but laid up vehicle carriers TOKYO CAR and TRIUMPH. They have been in the docks for a few weeks and are not due to leave until August. The QUEEN MARY 2 was at the new cruise terminal at berth 46.

The main vessels in the Western Docks were the two cruise vessels NORWEGIAN JADE and GRAND PRINCESS at berths 101 and 106 respectively. The general cargo ship WINONA was at 109 berth, she has been there since the end of May and is not due to leave until the end of June. I'm not sure why she is there for so long? The LNG vessel MARGARET HILL was still at 202 berth and is now up for sale. The final vessel noted was the new container ship OOCL NORFOLK - 2009 built and on her third visit to Southampton. She trades to the East Coast of America.

We then made out way down past Fawley, where the incoming vehicle carrier GEORGIA HIGHWAY passed us. The tankers S/R WILMINGTON and BALTIC MERCHANT were at Fawley. Shortly afterwards we also passed the incoming preserved steamship SHIELDHALL - which greeted us with some whistle blowing! 

Off across the North Channel to Portsmouth now. Approaching Portsmouth we encountered the usual Isle of Wight ferry traffic, before entering Portsmouth ahead of the incoming fast ferry NORMANDIE EXPRESS. 

Naval vessels in Portsmouth included the French patrol vessel P677 COMORAN. The Royal Navy was represented by the new destroyer D32 DARING, H131 SCOTT, F237 WESTMINSTER and A386 FORT AUSTIN among several others.

Back to Southampton now for the departure of the cruise ships. On our way, we passed Fawley at close quarters, where the shuttle tanker NAVION ANGLIA and MAINGAS had arrived since we passed on our way to Portsmouth.

We then stopped off Hythe in order to see the cruise ships sailing - first out was the NORWEGIAN JADE, closely followed by the GRAND PRINCESS and finally, the QUEEN MARY 2 passed us after backing out of Ocean Dock and swinging. By now it was nearly time for our cruise to end so we made our way back to Ocean Village, where goodbyes were said.  

As usual, thanks go to the captain and crew of the OCEAN SCENE for looking after us again. Thanks also to Simon Martin and the other members of the TSS committee for organising another enjoyable day out. 

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WINONA at berth 109, Western Docks, Southampton.

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OOCL NORFOLK at the container terminal.

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The French patrol vessel P677 COMORAN was visiting Portsmouth.

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D32 DARING at Portsmouth.

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ST. CECILIA overtaking our boat, outward bound from Portsmouth.

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S/R WILMINGTON was berthed at Fawley Oil Terminal.

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NORWEGIAN JADE departs from Southampton....

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...followed by GRAND PRINCESS.

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Finally QUEEN MARY 2 passes us outward bound.

Report and photographs by Chris Brooks.

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The Chinese built MESSENGER K was berthed in Europoort. 

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SAFMARINE NOKWANDA arriving at Europoort.

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BCL IWONA passes us in the Nieuwe Waterweg.

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ROTTERDAM berthed in Maashaven.

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CHEMICAL DISTRIBUTOR in the shipyard at Rotterdam.

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VS ROTTERDAM passes our hotel in Vlaardingen.

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MSC DRESDEN passed during our visit to Terneuzen.

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IBN SINA II outward bound at Terneuzen.

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LADY KORCULA at Antwerp during our cruise.

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CPO GERMANY also at Antwerp.

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SPLITTNES was at the bulk berths at Antwerp.

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The interesting old reefer JARIKABA at Antwerp.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

20th to 25th June 2009 - Continental Tour

This year our continental tour consisted of a five night stay in Holland, with our time split between Rotterdam and Vlissingen.

The main group of participants assembled at the Stena Line Terminal in Harwich for the morning crossing to the Hook of Holland by the Stena Line ferry. Some members had opted to travel to Holland independently by Eurostar and by car via other ferry routes. Twenty-eight members participated in the full tour, with a number of members opting to join the port cruises only.

We arrived in the Hook of Holland mid afternoon on Saturday 20th June and after disembarkation from the ferry, we travelled by coach to our base for the first two nights, the Delta Hotel in Vlaardingen. This hotel is situated on the banks of the river and affords excellent views of the shipping travelling to and from the older part of the Port of Rotterdam. 

On Sunday we assembled at 9am for what is for many the highlight of the tour - a 10 hour private cruise taking in all areas of  Rotterdam harbour and the ever expanding Europoort. Our vessel the PARTYSCHIP DIANE, is an excellent platform for photography with a large open upper deck. The weather, though mainly cloudy for the first hour of the cruise was kind to us for it brightened up with bright sunshine for most of the day. We started our cruise by travelling via the Caland Canal to Europoort. The tanker berths in the Caland Canal were quite busy with a good range of tankers present, including the VLCC PISCES STAR. On arrival at the container terminal, we were lucky enough to see the departure of the large vessels MAERSK STOCKHOLM and MAERSK DALLAS and the arrival of the equally large SAFMARINE NOKWANDA. The large bulker berths were however very quiet. We then made our way via the NieuweWaterweg back to Rotterdam, passing several outbound vessels on the way. Our cruise then took us around Botlek Harbour, where the FSPO UISGE GORM was berthed, followed by Eemhaven and Waalhaven. The veteran cruise ship ROTTERDAM, now berthed permanently in Rotterdam and soon to be opened as a floating hotel was the next subject of our cameras. Parkkade saw many vessels, particularly tugs berthed waiting for work. Our cruise then took us back down the Northern bank of the river via the various harbours to Vlaardingen and our hotel. An excellent day out with a large number of vessels photographed in good conditions.

The next day we departed from the Delta Hotel and made our way to Vlissingen via "The Hill" opposite the Hook of Holland to see if there were any new arrivals in Europoort overnight.

After our visit to "The Hill" our coach took us to the four star Arion Hotel in Vlissingen for the remaining three nights of our tour. The Arion Hotel is on the seafront at Vlissingen and overlooks one of the channels that vessels take to proceed to the ports of Antwerp, Gent, Vlissingen, Flushing and Terneuzen. Sea facing rooms make it possible to photograph passing shipping from your hotel room balcony.

On Tuesday 23rd, another sunny day, most members took the coach for a day trip to Terneuzen, from where it is possible to photograph all shipping going to and from Antwerp at close range. We arrived at Terneuzen at 10am and were soon taking various vessels bound for Antwerp including the tanker GIANNUTRI, container ships CAP DELGADO and MSC DRESDEN as well as the outbound vessels IBN SINA II and BRO ALBERT. We departed Terneuzen at about 5pm after a fairly busy day.

Wednesday 24th saw us travelling by coach to Antwerp for our 5 hour private port cruise of the enclosed dock system. After a brief stop at the locks to see any arriving or departing vessels we boarded our vessel the KEMPENLAND for our cruise, again in brilliant sunshine. Antwerp was much quieter than last year but we still photographed over 50 vessels, including the reefers LADY KORCULA and JARIKABA, bulk carrier DD VICTORY and general cargo ship NINA. The MSC container terminal at Delwaidedok, was very busy, as usual, with several container vessels present. We then travelled back to Vlissingen for our last night at the hotel before our departure from Holland.

All too soon Thursday 25th came, and our departure from Vlissingen for the coach trip back to the ferry terminal at the Hook of Holland. The ferry trip back to Harwich was uneventful and we soon found ourselves disembarking and saying our goodbyes after another successful trip.

All that remains is to say thankyou to Paul Mason, Roger Hammond and other members of the committee who worked so hard to make this trip another success. 

16th July 2009 - Midweek Thames and Medway Cruise (2)

It was our intention to organise one of our popular midweek Thames and Medway Cruises on board the Princess Pocahontas.

Unfortunately the trip was cancelled due to a major engine problem on the Princess Pocahontas which happened the day before our trip.

Saturday 15th August 2009 - Solent Cruise (2)

The second Solent cruise of the year, on board the Ocean Scene took place on a slightly dull, but thankfully dry Saturday 15th August.

Once all were aboard, we started by cruising around Southampton Docks, which contained the usual variety of shipping. First to be noted was the UECC vehicle carrier ASIAN BREEZE at 30 berth, one of several vehicle carriers to be seen. Close by was the second the CRYSTAL RAY, with her distinctive blue and green livery. We proceeded around dockhead to see the two laid up vehicle carrier TOKYO BAY and TRIUMPH. Newly built and laid up after a few months service. Also, at 49 berth was the inactive vehicle carrier AUTO BAY, again operated by UECC.

On now to the Western Docks, there the cruise ship INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS was at 101 berth, with another laid up vehicle carrier TAGUS just along the quayside at 104 berth. The GRAND PRINCESS was also at 106 berth. The LNG tanker MARGARET HILL, recently sold for scrap was at 202 berth, she has been detained as there are fears she has asbestos on board and needs specialised dismantling. The AALSMEERSGRACHT was also in the Western Docks loading yachts. The container berths yielded the CMA CGM BUTTERFLY and the SAVANNAH EXPRESS. On our way back RFA DILIGENCE was noted at Marchwood Military Port.

We then retraced our steps and proceeded down Southampton Water for Fawley and Portsmouth. At Fawley the large tanker KAREN KNUTSEN was present, amongst others.

Proceeding along the North Channel, we eventually arrived at Portsmouth, where the RFA BRAMBLELEAF was berthed awaiting disposal. A few days later she left under tow for the breakers at Gent. The carriers ARK ROYAL and ILLUSTRIOUS were present as was the ice patrol vessel ENDURANCE, back from her near sinking off Chile. For the ferry enthusiasts, the MONT ST MICHEL was witnessed departing as well as the usual Isle of Wight ferry traffic.

Leaving Portsmouth, we headed back for Southampton and the cruise ship departures. The INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS and the GRAND PRINCESS were both photographed departing just off dockhead. Back now to our starting point, after a quick visit into Empress Dock to photograph the BBC LOUISIANA loading wind turbine blades, a trade which will cease shortly after the closure of the factory that makes them on the Isle of Wight.

Our cruise was over. All that is left is to say thankyou to Simon Martin for organising the day and also to the crew of the Ocean Scene for another excellent day out. Special thanks go to Captain Sid of the Ocean Scene, as it was his last trip with us due to the fact that he will be retiring soon . We wish him a happy retirement.

Photos supplied by Paul Mason.

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AALSMEERSGRACHT was loading yachts in the Western Docks, Southampton.

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CMA CGM BUTTERFLY was at the container terminal.

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MARGARET HILL, detained at 202 berth.

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BRAMBLELEAF awaits disposal at Portsmouth.

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HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, one of two carriers seen at Portsmouth.

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GRAND PRINCESS departing from Southampton.

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BBC LOUISIANA in Empress Dock, Southampton.


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PRINSENDAM berthed at Tilbury Cruise Terminal.

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ARK FORWARDER inward bound in the River Thames.

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Cobelfret's MELUSINE was in Southend Anchorage...

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HYUNDAI BUSAN was at Thamesport.

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CANCALE STAR at Grain Oil Terminal, in the River Medway.

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NORKING, outward bound in the Thames.

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The three tugs STANFORD, CORRINGHAM and CASTLE POINT based at Coryton.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks

Saturday 5th September 2009 - Thames and Medway Cruise 

As the TSS members assembled at Gravesend for the final Thames and Medway cruise for the year, we were surprised to see the Holland America Line cruise ship PRINSENDAM berthed at Tilbury Cruise Terminal. On the cruise ship schedule for 2009 she was not due until 6th September at Greenwich. In addition were were also pleased that the weather was dry and sunny, although it was forecast to cloud over later in the day.

We set off on time at 10am, taking photos of the PRINSENDAM in the bright morning sunshine. We headed down river passing the local dredger SAND HERON inward bound, followed by the regular feeder containership ORION in for Tilbury Dock. The ARK FORWARDER was also passed shortly afterwards, again inbound for Tilbury dock.

Unfortunately the oil berths were very quiet with only one vessel berthed at Coryton, the smart Swedish chemical tanker EVINCO which had recently arrived from Rotterdam. She was joined by the GAMMAGAS, inward bound from Wilhelmshaven, as we passed the berths.

On now to Southend Anchorage, where Cobelfret's MELUSINE and the product tanker SEAMULLET were anchored. Maybe not the most interesting of vessels, but they made good photographic subjects in the bright sunshine.

We now turned for the Medway, as our ploughman's lunches were served. On arrival at Sheerness, we passed the outbound coasters RIVER CARRIER and SALIX. At Sheerness was the vehicle carrier PLEIADES SPIRIT. Thamesport, was busy with two large container vessels present, the HYUNDAI BUSAN and Hapag-Lloyd's NEW ORLEANS EXPRESS. Just past Thamesport, the large tanker CANCALE STAR was an unusual visitor to the Grain Oil Terminal.

Back to the Thames now, for the return leg of the cruise. On entering the Thames we passed the outbound ro-ro NORKING, before arriving at the oil terminals. After a quick diversion to photograph the three tugs, CORRINGHAM, CASTLE POINT and STANFORD at Coryton, we proceeded back upriver.

We passed the outbound tanker BROVIG BORA followed by the container ship MONTE PASCOAL and the YARA GAS II, before arriving at Tilbury. By now it had clouded over as predicted by the Met Office. We proceeded upriver, past the PRINSENDAM to explore as far as the Dartford Bridge. Unfortunately Northfleet Hope container terminal was empty. Two small tankers were present at the Vopak terminal, the TWAITE and CLEARWATER. Cobelfret's SERPENTINE, having departed from her berth, accompanied us downriver, back to Gravesend. One last movement, just before berthing at Gravesend was the inbound Italian tanker IEVOLI SHINE.

Even though the shipping had been a little sparse in places, the trip was enjoyed by everyone on board the Princess Pocahontas, especially as the weather had been kind to us. All that remains is to thank Mick Axford and other members of the committee for organising the day. Thanks also the the captain and crew of the Princess Pocahontas for looking after us so well - as they always do.  

Wednesday 16th to Sunday 20th September - Relax by the Elbe

A small group of TSS members gathered at Heathrow Terminal 5 on Wednesday 16th September for a return visit to Cuxhaven. After a smooth flight, we set off by coach for Donners Hotel, Cuxhaven. Soon, some of us were gathered on the sunlit Alter Liebe pier to see a few ships before supper. MSC ASYA 08/107849, TAUCHER O WULF 4 78/253, VERA RAMBOW 08/17488,  SHIREEN-S 76/312 registered in North Korea, were amongst those seen. 

After breakfast the following morning, most of the group made their way down to the pier, from where, some of us took the tour of Cuxhaven docks noting the new-building Harms tugs ORCUS 09/3727 & URANUS 09/3727. SCI NEW DELHI 09/36007, PELAGIA 91/1615 (research ship), POLARSTREAM 99/11417, ORABELT 09/2009, HEINRICH ESSBERGER 86/2238, CYBI ISLAND 09/156 (Holyhead Towing Utility vessel) were all seen on the Elbe.

On Friday, some of the group took an early train into Hamburg for a boat trip around the docks. In a warm sunny Hamburg, the following selection was seen – COSCO OCEANIA 08/115776, BUGSIER 9 09/485, AIDACARA 96/38557, MAERSK SHEERNESS 06/93511, LIBRA LEADER 98/57674, YM ULTIMATE 07/90389, DAN SWIFT 85/15375, CCNI CARIBE 07/18017, plus assorted tugs.

Saturday was spent all-day spotting and photographing. EMWIKA NAREE 97/11474, ATLANTIC COMPANION 84/57255, ATLANT SVENJA 96/5799, STEFAN SIBUM 08/10585, CLIPPER BURGUNDY 07/2865, whilst the evening sun saw MG COURAGE 07/104721 and roro GRANDE GHANA 09/47115.

Then Sunday, our last day, arrived. Whilst waiting for our coach back to Hamburg, it was once again off to the pier. PRETTY LADY 94/6107, KALINA 96/6362, EEMS STAR 08/1862, EVINCO 05/13769, PASSAAT 94/1937, GRANATO 00/5006 were noted. 

Our flight back was on schedule, so after the usual farewells, it was off home. 

It was an excellent trip, very rewarding in ships photographed, something for everyone. All helped along by excellent weather every day.

Thanks to Roger Thayne for leading the trip & also South Quay Travel for the travel/hotel arrangements.

(Report written by Roger Hammond, photographs by Roger Thayne)

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FLOTTBEK passing Cuxhaven on 17th September.

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The local dredger MELLINA off Cuxhaven.

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For the tug enthusiasts BUGSEIR 21 passing Cuxhaven...

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... and the TAUCHER O WULF 4.

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AMARANTH passed Cuxhaven on the 18th September.

Heinrich-Ehler-18-Sep-2009.jpg (174543 bytes) did the HEINRICH EHLER.

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The Search and Rescue vessel HERMANN HELMS was also noted.

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The HALDOZ inward bound on the 18th September.

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AEGEAN XI, one of the local bunkering tankers. 

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AUCKLAND STAR one of 16 reefers seen during our stay.

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BARNES BRIDGE photographed during one of the boat trips.

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The 2009 built LNG tanker BW GDF SUEZ BRUSSELS.

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ENDEAVOUR photographed on 15th October in the anchorage.

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The huge EUGEN MAERSK called at Algeciras during our stay.

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One of the bankcrupt Eastwind fleet laid up at Gibraltar - EW JACKSON.

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Another reefer see during our stay was the GREEN CHILE.

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MSC ORCHESTRA arriving at Gibraltar on 15th October.

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Crowley's tug WARRIOR stationed off Europa Point.

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The containership YUE HE seen anchored off Gibraltar on 15th October.

Photographs and Report by Ray Smith.

12th to 16th October 2009 - Gibraltar - A Rock, Some Apes and Ships

It was very early Monday morning 12th October when 18 members met at Luton Airport for the flight to Gibraltar. The 19th participant on the trip was to meet us at Gibraltar after making his own travel arrangements. 

On arrival, we experienced a short coach ride to our base for the duration, the classic Rock Hotel. The majority of rooms in this fine hotel allow a panoramic view encompassing a glimpse of the Gibraltar Straits, across to the Port of Algeciras and the refinery area of La Linea to the extreme right. In the immediate foreground is the Bay which contains the ‘bunkering slots’ and the Gibraltar port and drydocks.

Continual shipping traffic observed through the Bay to the Port of Algeciras included the various ferry services criss-crossing between this part of Spain and the North African coast, plus the worldwide and local Mediterranean container services. Maersk Line was very prominent amongst the containerships seen. Additional traffic, although a little less frequent, arrived to attend the refinery installations at La Linea, located at the inner most end of the Bay.

Bunkering activities were prominent in the Gibraltar side of the Bay with numerous bunkering tankers replenishing their cargoes from three ‘storage’ tankers anchored in the Bay and ‘feeding’ the appetites of a great number of vessels of all shapes and sizes arriving from the East or West side of the Rock, or on some occasions direct from sea. Dependent of the size of vessel and the stems required, the whole operation takes some 6 to 8 hours. 

A number of members joined together in order to charter one of the local boats, normally employed on ‘rod fishing’ trips, to undertake a trip to photograph the shipping in the area. Four hours was generally sufficient to encompass the majority of shipping present both in the Bay and the anchorage to the East of the Rock. 

Others managed time at Europa Point, which affords ideal views of vessels passing into and out of the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Straits. From here, the Eastern anchorage and shipping channels to and from the Bay are also in range of both binoculars/telescope and camera. 

Notwithstanding all of the shipping activities available, the Rock and the adjacent town has a wealth of historic detail in which to immerse oneself. From the cable car to the summit of the Rock, to the tunnels and caverns within the Rock, there is something for everyone.

Ships seen and photographed ranged from container vessels, such as the relatively small Tasinge Maersk (‘94/20842gt DIS) to the immense bulk of the Eugen Maersk (‘08/170794gt DIS). Large gas tankers included the relatively new BW GDF Suez Brussels (‘09/103670gt BMU). The Auckland Star & Scottish Star (both ‘85/10291gt BHS) were but two of 16 reefers present at different times during the trip. 

Four cruise ships also took their place alongside the cruise terminal during our stay on the Rock. These were the Coral (‘71/13995gt CYP), Braemar (‘93/24344gt BHS) and Costa Magica (‘04/102587gt ITA), culminating with the Thursday arrival of the MSC Orchestra (‘07/92409gt PAN). 

Making certain members of our party extremely happy, two interesting tugs, both from the USA, were also to be seen. They had both been involved with the clearance of the ill-fated bulk carrier Fedra, which had grounded on the rocks below Europa Point. They were the Crowley tug Warrior (‘75/199gt USA) and Atlantic Salvor (‘77/198gt USA) from the DonJon Fleet. Steelwork could be seen on the barge alongside the latter, still bearing the name & port of registry of the stricken vessel. 

In addition, the outer mole of the Gibraltar Port was ‘home’ to four laid up vessels of the bankrupt Eastwind Fleet awaiting auction. These were the tankers Sibuyan Wind and Arafura Wind (both ‘88/10949gt LBR), plus two reefers - EW Jackson (‘75/10060gt PAN) and Logan (‘93/7800gt LBR). 

Complimenting the array of tankers and bulkers, were the local tug fleet going about their daily tasks and by way of drawing the trip to its conclusion, on the final morning just as dawn was breaking, HMS Sutherland was seen easing her way into the Naval Dockyard immediately below our hotel.

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