Thames Ship Society



                    2010 Review                      (Updated 31st October 2010)     

Saturday 30th January 2010 - Winter Social.

The first event of 2010 will be the Winter Social. This year we return to the popular Churchill Hotel, on the seafront at Dover. 

After welcoming drinks in the bar we will be treated to a three course meal followed by coffee.

We will then have a  slide show given by Andrew Humphreys, entitled "East Kent Shipping Part 2 - Ancient and Modern". 

Why not make a weekend of it and stay at the hotel on Saturday night, with special TSS rates. On the Sunday morning, you can take advantage of a possible organised tour around the Coastguard Station at Dover, which has commanding views over the Channel as far as the coast of France.

Unfortunately this event was cancelled as the hotel went into administration a few days before the event. 

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SEAFRANCE MOLIERE departing from Dover on 31st January 2009.


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HEROIC ACE, one of the vehicle carries photographed in the Eastern Docks.

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The AZURA was berthed in Ocean Dock ready for her naming ceremony.

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BLACK WATCH, one of three cruise ships in harbour.

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HUELIN DISPATCH was berthed in Ocean Dock.

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VENTURA was at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal.

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OOCL HAMBURG at the container terminal.

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The Chinese tanker CHANG CHI at Fawley Oil Terminal.

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BALTIC HIGHWAY outward bound from Southampton at the end of our cruise.

(Report and Photographs by Chris Brooks.)

Saturday 10th April 2010 - AGM and Southampton Harbour Cruise.

This year's AGM was held on board the Blue Funnel cruise vessel OCEAN SCENE at Ocean Village, Southampton. Approximately forty members attended the event, which commenced at midday with a three course meal served on board the OCEAN SCENE. 

Suitably replenished, we then adjourned upstairs for the AGM, hosted by our chairman Paul Mason and several other members of the committee. The business of the AGM was conducted swiftly and efficiently and we were soon ready for our cruise of Southampton Docks and Southampton Water up to the oil terminal at Fawley.

On exiting Ocean Village, in pleasant spring sunshine, we were very soon greeted with our first vessel of the day the vehicle carrier AUTO BAY which was berthed in the Eastern Docks on the River Itchen. Not very far away from her was the coastal vessel, LISA C, loading grain at 36 berth. We then proceeded around dockhead where the Svitzer tugs were all lined up including the recently renamed SVITZER SURREY. She had carried the name ADSTEAM SURREY up until a recent refit at Great Yarmouth.

At berths 38/39 was Fred Olsen's classic cruise ship BLACK WATCH with the less than classic lines of the vehicle carrier HEROIC ACE ahead of her.

In Ocean Dock was P&O's brand new cruise ship AZURA, due to be named later in the day with accompanying firework display. Unfortunately it was difficult to get a good photograph of her as a vehicle carrier, the BALTIC HIGHWAY, was on the opposite side of the dock to her, leaving very little room for us to pass between them. At the top end of the dock were some more of the Svitzer tugs and two Huelin Renouf vessels, employed on the cargo service between Southampton and the Channel Islands.

Up to the Western Docks now to view the P&O cruise ship VENTURA at berth 106, the laid up vehicle carrier TAGUS at 201 berth and the laid up LNG tanker METHANIA at 202 berth. The container terminal also produced the OOCL HAMBURG and ZIM RIO GRANDE for us to photograph.

We then retraced our steps and made out way down Southmpton Water to Fawley Oil Terminal, where the Chinese tanker CHANG CHI was probably the pick of the five tankers berthed there. Luckily her departure time of 14:00 had been put back, allowing us to photograph her before she departed later in the evening.

On our way back to Ocean Village we passed the outward bound BLACK WATCH, followed by the vehicle carrier BALTIC HIGHWAY. We then made out way back to Ocean Village, passing the AUTO BAY departing from her berth, assisted by the tug SVITZER BENTLEY. Our cruise ended at about 6pm at which point we said our goodbyes and made our way home.

With thanks to Simon Martin and the members of the committee for organising an enjoyable day out and a great start to the 2010 TSS programme.

Saturday 24th April 2010 - Portishead Ship Show

We had a table at the Portishead Ship Show, where members of the committee were in attendance. 

22nd to 26th April 2010 - Croatia and it's Shipyards

Together with South Quay Travel (SQT), the TSS has put together its first ever trip to Croatia, visiting two of the main shipbuilding centres - Split and Rijeka with time to enjoy the country’s beautiful coastline and these historic cities.

Included in the itinerary will be land side tours of both yards with an English speaking guide provided by the yards’ management, access to the on site museum at Split, plus a presentation by a member of the yard’s design team, or another professional engineer. 

At Rijeka, we have arranged a tour of the yard and port facilities. A boat trip around Rijeka is still under negotiation and cannot be confirmed until the final numbers are known.

To avoid the long transfer between these two cities, the tour will be based on two centres. This will also give participants free time to photograph the many ferries operating in and out of Split, or even non-shipping alternatives as the Croatian coastline is steeped in history and known for its beauty.

Flights will be with EasyJet from and returning to Gatwick. Flight times will be confirmed at a later date.

The package will include:

  • Four nights/five days accommodation in Opatija & Split, with breakfast included each day.

  • Return flight with EasyJet connecting Split with London Gatwick.

  • All passenger tax & service charges.

  • Return checked baggage costs with 20 kg weight allowance.

  • All coach transfers as detailed in the following itinerary.

Full itinerary:

Thursday 22nd April

London Gatwick to Split (EasyJet flight: timings TBA); coach transfers from airport to Split Shipyard and hotel; guided tour of shipyard; one night’s accommodation in Hotel Art on a bed & breakfast basis.

Friday 23rd April

Coach transfer from Hotel Art to Opatija; two night’s accommodation in Hotel Admiral on a bed & breakfast basis.

Saturday 24th April

Coach pick-up from Hotel Admiral for a day excursion to Rijeka Shipyard and port (see note below); return by coach to Hotel Admiral.

Sunday 25th April

Coach pick-up from Hotel Admiral to transfer to Split; free time on arrival; one night’s accommodation in Hotel Art on a bed & breakfast basis.

Monday 26th April

Coach pick-up from Art Hotel to transfer to Split Airport in time to catch the return flight to London Gatwick (EasyJet flight: timings TBA).


Shipyard visits have been confirmed at Split and Rijeka. We have also included a coach transfer to Rijeka port as an alternative to Pula Shipyard, which has a strict ‘no-visitor’ policy and has not granted us entry on this occasion.

At the Split Shipyard, a tour will be given with an English-speaking guide, which will include entry to the on-site museum with its fine collection of ship models and potentially (depending on availability) a presentation from a professional engineer at no extra charge.

Hotels to be used:

The Hotel Admiral at Opatija is a 4-Star hotel. All rooms have a balcony with sea views. Breakfast is included for the duration of the stay.

The Art Hotel at Split is also a 4-Star hotel and is the nearest to the port area – being only 1 km away. It offers excellent facilities. Again breakfast is included for the duration of the stay.

Unfortunately this tour has been cancelled due to the airline withdrawing the flight on the dates we required.  

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SMS SHOALBUSTER, employed on the London Gateway project.

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EDME was taking part in the Thames Barge race on the Medway. 

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The KINGSWEAR CASTLE was in the Medway too.

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The PACIFIC SKY outward bound in the Thames.

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MARIEKE is also employed on the London Gateway project.

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The NESTE was at Coryton.

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The FAIR LADY at Tilbury Power Station.

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RIO BLANCO at Northfleet Container Terminal.

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The Freedom Type MONTEREY was at Tower Wharf.

Photographs and report by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 22nd May 2010 - Thames and Medway Cruise (1)

It was a grey and misty morning as 59 TSS members assembled at Gravesend for the first Thames and Medway Cruise of the year on board the Princess Pocahontas

The cruise got underway just after 10am, proceeding downriver towards Shellhaven, Coryton and the Medway. Shortly after we departed, the sun started to poke through the clouds and by the time we arrived at the site of the London Gateway project, the clouds had disappeared and the weather had greatly improved.

The old Shellhaven site was a hive of activity with several tugs, workboats and dredgers working on the Gateway project. The small tug, SMS SHOALBUSTER, provided the best photographic opportunities of the vessels present. We proceeded on to Coryton where the large tanker PACIFIC SKY was completing cargo discharge, as well as the Finnish tanker NESTE, the BRO SINCERITY and the SENIORITY. 

As there was little of interest in Southend Anchorages, we proceeded into the Medway, only to see an Algerian LNG tanker and a large container ship disappearing into the Thames Estuary having departed from the Medway a few minutes before we arrived. Apart from a small coaster at Sheerness there was no shipping present in the Medway. We did however witness the annual Thames Barge race, with several of these majestic vessels photographed in full sail. The paddle steamer KINGSWEAR CASTLE was also out in the Medway. 

Time now for us to depart from the Medway and proceed back upriver, with our ploughman's lunch being served at this time. The large tanker PACIFIC SKY was by this time outbound from Coryton and we passed her "sunny side up", which made for a great photo as we made our way upriver. We also passed the dredger MARIEKE at close quarters - she is employed on the Gateway Project too.

At Tilbury power station, the larger bulk carrier FAIR LADY was photographed. The Hamburg-Sud containership RIO BLANCO was at Northfleet container terminal and the small coaster BLUE DRAGON at the grain terminal.

We proceeded upriver as far as the Dartford crossing, with the MOZART and SIGAS CHAMPION at the Vopak petroleum jetty and the LOUISE RUSS at the Cobelfret terminal at Dartford.

On our way back downriver, the last vessel of the day to be photographed was the veteran Freedom Mark 1 type general cargo vessel MONTEREY which was at Tower Wharf. Sadly not in the best photographic position, but certainly my "ship of the day".

We arrived back at Gravesend, after a very enjoyable trip. Not a large amount of shipping, particularly in the Medway, but some good photographic opportunities nevertheless.

With thanks to the members of the committee for organizing this enjoyable day out and to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for looking after us so well.... as they always do. 

Saturday 12th June 2010  - Solent Cruise (1)

The first of this year's Solent cruises departed Ocean Village, Southampton, on board Blue Funnel's Ocean Scene on a bright Saturday afternoon. The cruise covered the port of Southampton, Fawley Oil Terminal and Portsmouth Harbour.

On departure we rounded dockhead having passed the vehicle carrier HOEGH SHANGHAI to see the first of today's four cruise ships the SILVER WHISPER - an unusual caller for Southampton. Astern of her was the MOD chartered ro-ro EDDYSTONE. Proceeding into the Western Docks, we passed the small outbound vehicle carrier IVAN. In Western Docks were two cruise ships, the nearly new CELEBRITY ECLIPSE and P&O's OCEANA. 

Spleithoff's STADIONGRACHT was at 201 berth loading yachts, whilst the laid up LNG carrier METHANIA was just ahead of her at 202 berth. The container terminal produced three large vessels, the CMA CGM ANDROMEDA, OOCL QINGDAO and APL MINNESOTA.  

We retraced our steps now, calling in at Ocean Dock to see the fourth of today's cruise ships, P&O's VENTURA at the new Ocean Terminal.

We then headed out of Southampton, passing the inbound vehicle carrier GRAN BRETAGNA. At Fawley there were five vessels present, the most notable being the Malaysian ALAM BISTARI.

On now to Portsmouth passing through the Solent and the multitude of yachts and pleasure craft. On our arrival at Portsmouth we were disappointed to see that there were not  many naval ships in port. The pick of the ones present was the new destroyer HMS DAUNTLESS, dressed overall to celebrate the Queen's birthday. Other than the naval vessels the local ferries and hovercraft provided further photographic opportunities.

Back now,  through the Solent to get into position for the departure of the cruise ships. The first out, P&O's VENTURA provided a good photographic opportunity in nice light, although we were slightly hampered by a rogue yacht. CELEBRITY ECLIPSE and OCEANA followed her out, sadly the sun had disappeared behind a cloud for these two. They were followed by the ro-ro EDDYSTONE which we passed very close to.

We then crossed over the channel to photograph the laid up containership JAKARTA TOWER, which has been laid up in Southampton Water for the past few months. The final cruise ship SILVER WHISPER then passed us followed by the vehicle carrier HOEGH SHANGHAI. 

By now we were back at Southampton and we pulled into our berth where the cruise ended. With thanks to Simon Martin and members of the committee for making today a very enjoyable day out. Lastly thanks go to the captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well, as they always do.    

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SILVER WHISPER at berth 38/9 Southampton

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APL MINNESOTA at the container terminal

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GRAN BRETAGNA arriving at Southampton

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The new HMS DAUNTLESS was at Portsmouth

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P&O's VENTURA passes us outward bound

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ALAM BISTARI at Fawley Oil Terminal

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EDDYSTONE outward bound from Southampton

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JAKARTA TOWER laid up in Southampton Water

Photographs & Report by Chris Brooks.

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MANTA III was berthed in the Waalhaven.

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KORAL, one of several tugs berthed at the Parkkade.

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OCEAN BEAUTY dwarfed everything else in Merwehaven.

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EDT PROTEA one of the several offshore vessels seen during our cruise.

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Bulk carrier KOHFUKUSAN was in the Mississippihaven.

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ELLY MAERSK was at Europahaven, Europoort.

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AEGEAN ANGEL catches a few rays of sunshine at Europoort.

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The Finnish MASTERA was berthed in the Caland Canal.

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BALTIC FAVOUR leaving the Caland Canal.

Report and photos by Chris Brooks

Sunday 20th June - Rotterdam and Europoort Cruise

Having made our own ways to Rotterdam about 25 TSS members assembled for the annual Rotterdam and Europoort cruise on board our old friend the Partyschip Diane. Most members stayed a few extra days in Rotterdam or the Hook of Holland to make a long weekend of it, observing and photographing shipping in Rotterdam and the New Waterway, including the arrival and departure of the brand new cruise ship NORWEGIAN EPIC on 19th June.

We arrived at 9am at Vlaardingen to start our cruise. Unfortunately the weather this time was not kind to us, being overcast, windy and quite cold. It did however stay dry for the cruise. Due to the tidal conditions we proceeded upriver first to view the shipping in Eemhaven, Waalhaven and the other upriver berths. These berths are not so busy these days, but still provide a good cross section of interesting shipping including container ships, bulk carriers, general cargo ships and offshore vessels.

In the Waalhaven, the bulk woodchip carrier SILVER PEGASUS was being unloaded, whilst the newbuild monohull crane vessel OLEG STRASHNOV (to be the largest one in the world) was being fitted out nearby. The offshore tug MANTA III provided some interest for the tug enthusiasts. 

Up now, to see the veteran cruise ship ROTTERDAM in her permanent berth in Maashaven and across to see the large number of inactive vessels berthed on the Parkkade, including coasters, tugs and offshore vessels. The veteran 1976 built Polish tug KORAL was probably the pick of the bunch. In Merwehaven, the colourful research vessel EDT PROTEA made a good photograph, whilst the bulk carrier OCEAN BEAUTY dwarfed everything around her. She had been in port since February, but departed two days after we saw her. The Damen ship repair yards were quite quiet.

In Botlek harbour was the usual collection of offshore rigs at the Keppel Verolme shipyard as well as the container vessel MSC TOKYO in dry-dock. Several tankers were also present.

We then proceeded to Europoort via the Hartelkanaal due to the windy conditions on the Nieuwe Waterweg, emerging in the Mississippihaven, Europoort after a delightful buffet lunch. The bulker berths here produced two large vessels. On now to the container terminals at Amazonehaven and Europahaven. The container berths were quite busy, producing sightings of the MOL CALEDON, EVER CHAMPION and the huge ELLY MAERSK to name but a few. The new Euromax terminal in Yangtzehaven produced the COSCO JAPAN and HANNOVER BRIDGE.

Back now past the EECV ore terminal where there were three large ore carriers including the EVA N. Then through the Caland Canal passing the various tanker berths where the Finnish "double acting tanker" (for use in heavy ice) MASTERA was berthed. the BALTIC FAVOUR was departing and passed very close to us providing good photo opportunities.

We then proceeded via the locks at Rozenburg and the Hartelkanaal into the Oude Maas and back to Vlaardingen where the cruise ended, our members saying their goodbyes and continuing with the remainder of their long weekends in Rotterdam.

With many thanks to Paul Mason and members of the committee for organising the cruise and of course our friends on the Diane for looking after us with their typical warm hospitality. I'm looking forward to next year's cruise already!     

Thursday 15th July 2010  - Thames and Medway Cruise

On a rather blustery day, TSS members gathered at Gravesend for the midweek Thames and Medway cruise on the Princess Pocahontas. After a long period of hot and sunny weather we were rather unlucky to be greeted by a cloudy and windy start to the day. 

Having set off downstream at 11:00, with little shipping in sight, except for the veteran cruise ship MARCO POLO at Tilbury Cruise Terminal, the weather, thankfully, started to brighten up with periods of sunshine but still a brisk wind.

Shellhaven was a hive of activity with tugs, dredgers and various work boats busy on the work for the London Gateway project. The large dredgers HAM 316 and MARIEKE were busy at work in the estuary in connection with this project. Coryton provided what for some, was the "ship of the day", the new Russian Sovcomflot ice-breaking tanker TIMOFEY GUZHENKO as well as the chemical tanker BEN.

Southend anchorage was thankfully empty, as the swell was making the journey downstream uncomfortable, leading to a decision to turn the Princess Pocahontas around and proceed back upriver. This meant we would not be entering the River Medway, but eagle eyed observers had noted only two vessels at Sheerness and nothing on the Thamesport container terminal, so we did not miss a lot of shipping. 

Thankfully having taken a closer look at the TIMOFEY GUZHENKO and BEN we were now in calmer waters, and our ploughman's lunches were served. Suitably refreshed and now in nice afternoon sunshine we were ready to explore the shipping upriver. We had been notified that the bulk carrier MONICA P was in the process of leaving Tilbury dock with a cargo of scrap and so we proceeded to the lock entrance to get some nice close up views of her departure together with the Svitzer tugs in attendance.

Off upriver now, past the empty Northfleet container terminal. The coaster HELEN was at the grain terminal, with the tanker DONAUSTERN at  Grays terminal. AASFJORD was at the Civil Marine jetty with Cobelfret's MELUSINE and almost new VESPERTINE at their jetty.

Back downstream now as the vehicle carrier GRANDE AFRICA was in Tilbury Locks outward bound, so again we got some good views of her departure. Time was now getting on so we proceeded back to Gravesend where our cruise ended.

I stayed at Gravesend to photograph the departure of the MARCO POLO from Tilbury at 18:00 and managed to get some nice photos of her being swung in the late afternoon sunshine.

All in all, an enjoyable day, with some good photo opportunities, given the difficult weather conditions and lack of shipping in some areas of the Thames. Our thanks as usual go to the members of the committee for organising the day and the Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for their hospitality. 

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Sovcomflot's ice-breaking tanker TIMOFEY GUZHENKO was at Coryton...

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...a stern shot of the interesting tanker TIMOFEY GUZHENKO at Coryton.

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The bulk carrier MONICA P departing from Tilbury Lock, loaded with scrap...

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...assisted by the local tug SVITZER LACEBY.

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Cobelfret's new VESPERTINE at their terminal at Dartford.

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GRANDE AFRICA being swung off Tilbury Lock.

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MARCO POLO departing from Tilbury Cruise Terminal shortly after our cruise ended.

Photographs & Report by Chris Brooks.

Some vessels seen during our 2008 Marseille & Toulon Tour...

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Dock landing ship L9012 SIROCO was also at Toulon during our visit...

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Ferry MONTE CINTO at Marseille during our harbour cruise of the port, having arrived from Corsica.

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SUPER SERVANT 4 was also in Marseille port during our cruise.

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STAR LADY berthed at the Oil Terminal at Port St Louis, Fos, during our port cruise. 

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BYZANTION was anchored in the bay of Fos during our cruise...

Photographs by Chris Brooks.

5th to 8th August 2010 - Marseille / Fos & Toulon by TGV

Our trip in 2008 to Marseille and Toulon by Eurostar/TGV was intended to be a one-off. However, due to its success and the very positive feedback received from those who took part, it has been decided to offer a repeat trip this year, again by train to cater for those that prefer not to fly. We have changed hotels this year to the 4-star Radisson Blu Hotel, Vieux Port. Though not quite as convenient for the early morning and evening shots of ferry movements from the Jardin de Pharo, this hotel is more convenient for the inter island ferries and night life, and offers significant savings over the previous hotel.

Toulon is an hour’s drive along the coast from Marseille and in addition to a harbour trip we will have the opportunity to linger at the Tour du Mourillon, at which all ships pass at close quarters when entering or leaving the bay. A repeat of the dockyard tour by land train is included (no photography allowed within the dockyard) as is a harbour trip, which does offer excellent opportunities for photography. There will also be free time to explore the shops and the cafés. An English speaking guide will also be in attendance throughout and we have requested the same guide as on our previous visit.

The private boat trip around the Bay of Fos is also a repeat. As before, the route will take us through both arms of Marseille port, along the spectacular cliff scenery, and into much of the huge industrial and dock areas around the bay, including the main anchorage. Learning from our previous trip, a request has been made for a cash snack and bar facility on the boat to counter the effects of the anticipated hot weather. 

 The trip will include:

  • Return Eurostar / TGV train from London or Ebbsfleet to Marseille via Lille (Depart approx 1025, change Lille 1224/1254, arrive Marseille 1747)
  • Station / hotel  transfers in Marseille
  • 3 nights B & B accommodation at the 4 star Radisson Blu Hotel, Vieux Port
  • Full day boat excursion on Friday around the Bay of Fos lead by English speaking guide
  • Coach transfer to Toulon on Saturday with visits to the naval dockyard, Marine Museum and scenic drive.

Unfortunately this tour has been cancelled as we were unable to achieve the number of participants required.

Saturday 14th August 2010 - Solent Cruise (2)

The second of this year's Solent Cruises took place on Saturday 14th August. Despite a less than perfect weather forecast, 58 participants arrived in a cloudy Southampton to board Blue Funnel's OCEAN SCENE for our six hour cruise.

Luckily the heavy showers forecast had not materialised as we set off from Ocean Village. We started our cruise with a circuit of Southampton Docks, where there was a good variety of shipping present. Three vehicle carriers, three cruise ships, three large container ships and a variety of other vessels were in the docks. The most interesting ship probably being the bulk carrier RUBICONE, which was built in 1991 as the Polish KOPALNIA ZIEMOWIT. The container terminal provided us with views of the recently arrived OOCL LONG BEACH, the new OOCL LUXEMBOURG and the huge CMA CGM THALASSA which was getting ready to depart.

Off now down Southampton Water past Fawley Oil Terminal, where an interesting selection of tankers were berthed. These included the EMERALD STARS, ROSA TOMASOS, SELANDIA SWAN and the North Sea Shuttle tanker STENA NATALITA. Having photographed the tankers at Fawley we proceeded to Portsmouth, via the North Channel.

Portsmouth was very busy with a large array of naval vessels present. The aircraft carrier HMS ARK ROYAL had arrived the previous day from an exercise off the American coast, together with HMS LIVERPOOL. Also, the navy's newest destroyer HMS DAUNTLESS was berthed in the naval base.

Having satisfied out naval enthusiasts we then made our way back to Southampton in order to catch the departure of the cruise ships. 

We passed the outbound Wilhelmsen vehicle carrier QUEEN SAPPHIRE off Calshot on our return journey, before having another look at the tankers at Fawley. We were then in prime position for photographing the cruise ships which were by this time approaching in a convoy. First out was the QUEEN MARY 2, which we passed at close quarters. She was followed by P&O's VENTURA and finally Royal Caribbean's INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS, in a shower of rain.

Our cruise had by now come to an end so we made our way back to Ocean Village where the cruise finished. Although the weather wasn't great, it could have been a lot worse, and we were lucky to have our cruise on a day with a lot of shipping present in both Southampton and Portsmouth.

With thanks to Simon Martin and members of the committee for organising the day and our thanks as always go to Blue Funnel and the Captain and crew of the OCEAN SCENE for their excellent hospitality. 

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The new OOCL LUXEMBOURG was at Southampton container terminal.

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RUBICONE was at 108 berth.

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EMERALD STARS was at Fawley...

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The ARK ROYAL at Portsmouth, had recently arrived from America...

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...with her destroyer escort LIVERPOOL.

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QUEEN MARY 2 was the first of the cruise ships to leave...

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...followed very closely by the VENTURA.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

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DUZGIT INTEGRITY inward bound in the Thames.

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Dredger UILENSPEIGEL, employed on the Gateway Project.

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BLUE ROSE was in Southend anchorage...

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... as was the WADI HALFA.

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TOMKE in the Warps Anchorage.

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ORANJEBORG at Sheerness.

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CAPE TEXEL in the River Medway.

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MARFRET GUYANE at Northfleet Container Terminal.

Saturday 4th September 2010 - Thames and Medway Cruise (3)

All too quickly the last UK based trip of the year has come around. On a calm and partly sunny Saturday morning, 42 TSS members assembled at Gravesend for the final Princess Pocahontas trip of the year. We departed downriver at 10am, our first sighting of the day being the self discharging bulker TORNES at Tilbury Power station. 

The first of several inbound vessels then passed us - the feeder containership ORION, a regular visitor to Tilbury Docks. She was followed by the very smart Turkish chemical tanker DUZGIT INTEGRITY. After passing the construction work at Shellhaven for the London Gateway project, and an empty Coryton, we passed the next inbound vessel, the LPG tanker HALCYON STAR bound for Coryton. She was closely followed by the LAGA.

There were a few ships anchored out in Southend Anchorage, so we made our way out to photograph those. First was one of the large dredgers working on the Gateway project, the UILENSPEIGEL. Next was the tanker BLUE ROSE, followed by the Egyptian bulk carrier WADI HALFA at the outer extent of the anchorage. 

Due to the favourable weather conditions, we then proceeded to the Warps Anchorage, a first for the TSS, where the coasters TOMKE and HEKLA were photographed. A container ship, the ST. LOUIS EXPRESS, was outward bound from the Medway, so we intercepted and photographed her before heading for the Medway itself. 

At Sheerness Wagenborg's ORANGEBORG and the vehicle carrier ISAR HIGHWAY were the main attractions. Thamesport was also busy with the EVER SUPERB and BONN EXPRESS at the container terminal and the large tanker CAPE TEXEL on the nearby oil jetty.

We then retraced our steps out of the Medway having made a slight detour to photograph the laid up coaster TORCH at Queenborough. 

Back upriver now, past Coryton, Shellhaven and Tilbury, to Northfleet Container Terminal, where the MARFRET GUYANE was berthed.

Our time was now up, so we made our way back to Gravesend, where the cruise ended. Thanks, as always, go to the committee members for organising the day and to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for their superb hospitality throughout the day. 

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

11th to 18th September - Turkish Treasures 2010

After an uneventful flight from Terminal 5, Heathrow, we arrived in Istanbul in the late afternoon on Saturday, 11th September. Soon after arrival we were on our coach to the Erboy Hotel, situated in the Sirkeci District of Istanbul, conveniently located, being a short walk from the main ferry terminal at Eminonu. 

Sunday dawned dry, but a little cloudy. The weather forecast was for rain, but that did not deter many of us exploring the ferries and for those of us who had been to Istanbul on previous trips, re-acquainting ourselves with our favourite photography locations. The rain started mid morning and continued, with thunder, until late afternoon. However, several interesting vessels were noted including the veteran MSC cruise ship MELODY.

Monday dawned much better with blue skies in evidence. Our first of the two day long cruises was planned for today, and we duly arrived by coach at our boat the K. BEGO SEVKET near the Galata Bridge. Having photographed the vessels at the cruise terminal and Haydarpasa container terminal, we were lucky to intercept several vessels underway bound for the Bosphorus, which made for some excellent photos, including the bulk carrier BLUE MARINER. Then off to Istanbul Anchorage and the port of Ambarli a little way up the coast in the Sea of Marmara. At Ambarli, there were several vessels anchored off the port and having photographed these, we then turned out attention to the vessels in the port itself. the pick of these for me was the Bulgarian bulk carrier MALYOVITZA. Having covered Ambarli and also stopped for a pleasant lunch, we then continued to Istanbul Anchorage, were about 40 ships were anchored. Typical of those present was the Turkish owned general cargo ship TK LONDON. Eventually with the anchorage covered we made our way back to the Galata Bridge where our first cruise ended.

The next two days were free days. Members used these days to photograph shipping passing through the Bosphorus, taking more rides on the famous ferries of Istanbul and the occasional bits of sightseeing. A favourite each day was the Tourist Ferry, which proceeded from Eminonu, up the Bosphorus as far as the entrance to the Black Sea. The last stop on the European side is Rumeli Kavagi, where, if you can make the hike up the steep hill, there is an excellent viewing point where ships pass close to allowing excellent photographs to be taken.

On Thursday 16th September, our second, day long cruise took place. This time proceeding to Tuzla, a shipbuilding and ship repair facility a few miles down the coast from Istanbul. Hundreds of vessels in various stages of repair and construction are crammed into the semi-circular bay at Tuzla. Added to this are the large anchorages at Tuzla and nearby Kartal which provide further photographic opportunities. On of the most interesting vessels witnessed on this cruise was the ex Japanese ferry HITACHI moored in Tuzla anchorage - a very unusual type of vessel to be seen in this part of the world. 

All too soon, our last full day in Istanbul arrived. This was another free day. As usual a group of us took the early morning ferry over to the Asian side of the Bosphorus, from where you can get excellent photos of the vessels proceeding in the Northbound convoy into the Black Sea. Then, at lunchtime, it was time to move over to the European side, taking the tourist ferry over to Rumeli Kavagi, in order to photograph the Southbound convoy in the afternoon. Highlight of the last day's movements were the veteran Greek tug MEGAS ALEXANDROS and the Bulgarian bulk carrier ADALBERT ANTONOV.

Saturday saw us packing up our belongings and travelling to Ataturk airport for the British Airways flight back to Heathrow. The flight home was uneventful and on arrival at Heathrow, we said our goodbyes and so the tour ended. All that remains now is a few thousand photographs to sort through - that will keep me busy during the dark winter evenings!

I would like to thank Paul Mason and Geoff Hoather for organizing the week and dealing with late coaches. Also thanks to other members of the committee for their help in making the trip another success for the TSS. I look forward to a return visit to Istanbul.

Report and photographs by Chris Brooks. 

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AIDAdiva at Istanbul Cruise Terminal during our first cruise.

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BLUE MARINER approaching the Bosphorus.

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DREAM TRUE was anchored off Ambarli.

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Bulgarian bulk carrier MALYOVITZA at Ambarli.

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TK LONDON  in Istanbul anchorage. 

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STEPANIDA passing Kandilli on 14th September.

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MERT DEVAL at Tuzla during our second cruise.

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HITACHI was an unusual visitor to Tuzla Anchorage.

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BERIL 1 was also in Istanbul Anchorage during our cruise.

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MEGAS ALEXANDROS passing Rumeli Kavagi on 17th September.

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ADALBERT ANTONOV in the Bosphorus on 17th September.

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CASTELLO DI GRADARA was in the anchorage on 15th October.

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CORREGIDORA at the Cernaval Shipyard.

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EAST EXPRESS arrives in the bay on the 15th.

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MAERSK FUNCHAL, one of the many container ships present.

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EAST POINT in the anchorage on the 16th.

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V.B. SIMUN one of the local tugs.

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Reefer LADY ROSE in the anchorage on the 18th October.

Photographs and report by Roger Hammond.

15th to 19th October - A Rock, Some Apes and Ships

Once again it was a very early morning flight, but this time from Heathrow. On arrival, there was a short coach ride to the Rock Hotel. The majority of rooms in the hotel allow panoramic views of the bay and so, in double quick time the usual collection of telescopes, binoculars and cameras was soon on display. There is an almost continual flow of shipping traffic to be seen, calling either for bunkers or to wait to load & unload various cargoes.

Several members joined together in order to charter one of the local boats, normally employed on ‘dolphin watching’ trips, to undertake a trip to photograph the shipping in the area. The trip lasted about three hours and was able to cover most of shipping both in the Bay and the anchorage to the East of the Rock. (This private charter was repeated on each of the days of our stay). 

Some went to Europa Point, obtaining views of the 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. 

However, despite all of the shipping activities available, the Rock and adjacent town have a wealth of historic detail in which to immerse one-self. From the cable car to the summit of the Rock, to the tunnels and caverns within the Rock, there is something for everyone. Plus the advantages of duty free shopping.

Ships seen and photographed ranged through container vessels, tankers, tugs, reefers, general cargo, bulkers and ro-ros plus a steady stream of ferries from Algeciras.

Sky Glider (‘83/9417 BLZ) and Laura (‘83/9628 COK) were just two of the many reefers present at various times during the trip.

A surprise visitor was Express Santorini (‘74/4176 GRC), previously the Channel ferry Chartres.

Prize for the ‘biggest’ went to crude oil tanker Gemini Glory (‘02/157003 PAN) and the ‘scruffiest’ to the tanker Orion (‘82/7992 KNA). 

Five cruise ships also came alongside the cruise terminal during our stay - Black Watch (‘72/28613gt BHS), Balmoral (‘88/43547gt BHS), Saga Ruby (‘73/24492gt MLT) and MSC Orchestra (‘07/92409gt PAN) with Ventura (‘08/116017 BMU) arriving on the morning of our departure.

The weather had become cloudy and on arrival back at Heathrow it was obvious that the rain would soon be with us.

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