Thames Ship Society



                     2011 Review                          (Updated 14th Nov 2011) 

Saturday 29th January 2011 - Winter Social.

This event took place at the St George Hotel in Chatham, with members attending from over the South East. Unfortunately, there was only one ship, SCOT CARRIER 97/1882 to be seen on the Medway.

The weather was dull and cool, but after a few warming drinks in the lounge and some recollections of trips gone by this was soon forgotten as we went in for our excellent lunch. Our meals were served quickly and pleasantly. After coffee, we were entertained to a digital slide show by Mike Jackson. Ships of all types from around and about, including some photos of a recent trip to the Aliaga scrap-yards in Turkey. 

All too soon, it was time to say our farewells and make our various ways home. Thank you to St Georges Hotel who accommodated us and also thank you to Paul and Carol Mason for organising this very enjoyable event.

Report by Roger Hammond.

Saturday 2nd April 2011 - Portishead Ship Show.

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

Saturday 16th April 2011  - AGM & Solent Cruise

Over 40 members attended the AGM and Solent Cruise on board to Ocean Scene this year.

A excellent three course lunch was provided by the Ocean Scene's caterers followed by coffee and the Annual General Meeting of the society. The outgoing membership secretary Les Moore who stood down from the committee this year was thanked and presented with a gift by our chairman. The remainder of the AGM proceedings were quickly completed and it was time for our cruise of Southampton docks and Southampton Water as far as Fawley Oil Terminal. 

After a reasonably bright morning, unfortunately some cloud had appeared for our afternoon cruise. Nevertheless, there was a good cross section of shipping in the docks for our members to photograph. Shipping present included the cruise ships Oriana, Oceana and Independence of the Seas, the containerships NYK Leo, Osaka Express and APL Zeebrugge and the vehicle carriers La Surprise, Independence II, Bosporos Highway and Wilhelmsen's Bess which was arriving as we cruised around the port. She was assisted by the tug Svitzer Bristol which is around from the Bristol Channel filling in for one of the Southampton tugs which is away for refit.

Fawley produced the Navion Britannia, Holmen, Cavatina and Kendal as well as Solent Towage's new tug Vortex. As we made our way back to Southampton we passed the outbound convoy of cruise ships, first was the Oriana, bound for Vigo, followed by the Independence of the Seas, also bound for Vigo. Bringing up the rear was the Oceana. She was followed by the containership APL Zeebrugge departing for Hamburg.

A quick look in the Empress Dock on our way back to Ocean Village produced photos of the tug MTS Viscount. which had recently towed the refurbished HMS Bristol back to Portsmouth. 

We arrived back at Ocean Village at 6pm after a very enjoyable day. Many thanks to Paul Mason, our chairman, for the efficient running of the AGM and to Simon Martin for organising the day. Lastly our thanks as always to the captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well, as they always do.

Photographs and report by Chris Brooks.

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ORIANA at the Ocean Terminal..

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APL ZEEBRUGGE at the container terminal.

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MOUNTS BAY at Marchwood.

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The new tug VORTEX at Fawley.

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One of the tankers at Fawley was the HOLMEN. 

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INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS departing for Vigo.

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MTS VISCOUNT in Empress dock.

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The newbuild ABIS BREMEN, being towed to Harlingen.

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SIDERFLY with a cargo of logs passes Northbound.

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MERWEDIJK makes a colourful photograph on 10th May.

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EKFORS passing Southbound on 10th May.

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CELLUS passing Northbound in the late afternoon sunshine.

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Swedish stealth warship HELSINGBORG  passes Rendsburg early morning on 11th May.

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PRINCESS DAPHNE on her way to Kiel early on 12th May.

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Veteran Polish tug CYKLOP passes Southbound on 12th May

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DANUBE HIGHWAY passing on 12th May.

(Report and Photos by Chris Brooks)

9th to 13th May 2011 - Relax by the Kiel Canal

A short and uneventful flight from London Heathrow saw 24 TSS members arrive in Hamburg at the start of a five day break on the Kiel Canal. Shortly after arrival in a sunny Hamburg we were on our coach for the one an a half hour journey to Rendsburg.

No time was wasted checking in at the well appointed Hotel Convent Garten and it was not long before we were on the banks of the canal, which passes by the side of the hotel. Many of the participants made their way up to the restaurant at the Transporter Bridge, which has outside seating on the canal banks, where ships can be viewed at close quarters and refreshments taken. A "welcome point" also exists at this location where each passing vessel is announced and the national anthem of the flag of the vessel is played. Several interesting vessels were noted on the first afternoon, including three German naval vessels and the preserved steam vessel Bussard, which normally resides at Kiel. In the early evening most of the party made their way back to the hotel which has a terrace restaurant with views of the canal, where food and drink can be consumed and the odd photograph of passing vessels can be taken.

Tuesday 10th dawned clear and sunny and it was not long before members were on the banks of the canal for a day of photography. The photographic conditions were excellent, sunny with no wind making for nice reflections on the water. In the mornings the Eastern bank of the canal provides the best photographic opportunities with the sun behind you and a nice backdrop of trees. This bank can be accessed by a foot tunnel under the canal, conveniently situated next to the hotel. Several small convoys passed us during the day including the newbuild hull of Abis Bremen, being guided through the canal by tugs Taucher O. Wulf 5 and Taucher O. Wulf 8. She was being towed from Szczecin to Harlingen, presumably for fitting out. The Siderfly bound for Lubeck, was an interesting old coaster carrying a cargo of logs on her deck. Some of the other 50 vessels seen included the container carrier Merwedijk and tanker Ekfors.

A few clouds and showers of rain greeted us on Wednesday morning, but these were cleared up by 9am. A mainly sunny day followed. Two Swedish stealth warships passed early morning providing some interest for naval enthusiasts. Other vessels seen that day included the American container carrier National Glory, the tanker Helene Knutsen and Transfennica ro-ro Trica. Some of our party ventured further afield taking a local excursion boat from Rendsburg to Kiel for the day. Others made their way by train to Hamburg.

An early start on Thursday 12th rewarded some members with the opportunity to photograph the veteran cruise ship Princess Daphne passing the hotel before breakfast. Others made a more leisurely start! Another veteran seen today was the elderly Polish tug Cyklop, towing a barge to Dordrecht. Later, the vehicle carrier Danube Highway provided a stark contrast to the elderly tug. The day was rounded off with the sighting of the new ro-ro Bore Sea making a Southbound transit of the canal.

All too soon, Friday came and it was time to go home. We departed the hotel at 10:15 having photographed a final convoy passing Northbound. The short flight back to Heathrow passed quickly and I was soon on the Railair bus back to Reading, with the prospect of sorting out over 2,000 photos!

With grateful thanks to Paul Mason, Roger Hammond and other committee members for organising this enjoyable trip. I look forward to a return visit soon. 

Thursday 19th May 2011  - Thames and Medway Cruise (Midweek)

The ever popular cruises on the Princess Pocahontas provide excellent opportunities to photograph all type of shipping in the River Thames and Medway. They get booked up very quickly, so a full complement of TSS members arrived at Gravesend at 11am for the first Princess Pocahontas trip of our 2011 programme.

We set off in lovely sunny weather and even before we boarded, had photographed the outward bound vessels Norking and Cymbeline on their regular services to Zeebrugge and Vlissingen respectively.

We set off downriver with not a lot of shipping in sight, but soon came across the inward bound coaster Aspen and the local dredger City of London. In addition the large dredger HAM 310 was working on the Thames Gateway project. A few small tankers were berthed at Coryton, but we headed out for Southend Anchorage, passing the inbound Cobelfret ro-ro Undine on the way. We then came across the large containership MSC Antares arriving from Rotterdam for Northfleet at close quarters. The small tanker NST Natasja was moored in Southend anchorage. 

On now to the River Medway, where the eagle eyed spotters had seen the Russian conventional cargo ship Pioner Moldavii berthed at Sheerness. She had been detained there earlier in the week. The reefer Summer Meadow and vehicle carrier Bess completed the line up at Sheerness. The large self discharging bulk carrier Yeoman Bridge was at Thamesport, having arrived with stone from Glensanda.

Back now, up the Thames for Coryton where the tankers Sten Fjell, Clipper Sira and Desna Star were photographed. The outward bound containership Jens Maersk headed up a line of outward bound vessels, including the ro-ro Catherine, the barge carrier Baco Liner 1 and the tanker Yara Gas II

We continued up past the now berthed MSC Antares, to Purfleet where the new Cobelfret ro-ro Amandine was present. She had just arrived from Greenwich where her naming ceremony was held. Captain Potter pointed out to us that although a new ship, she had already damaged the sponson  on her hull. As well as the Amandine,  her near sister the Vespertine was also present as well as the Star Aruba, Aasli and the tankers Ternvag and Searay.

We then made our way back to Gravesend, where the cruise ended. With thanks to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas, as well as Mick Axford and other members of the committee for organising a very rewarding cruise. We look forward to the next Thames and Medway cruise in July.

Photographs and report by Chris Brooks.

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CITY OF LONDON inward bound in the Thames Estuary.

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MSC ANTARES inward bound for Northfleet.

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NST ANTARES in Southend Anchorage.

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PIONER MOLDAVII detained at Sheerness.

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YEOMAN BRIDGE at Thamesport.

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CATHERINE outward bound from Purfleet.

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STAR ARUBA at Purfleet.

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Cobelfret's new AMANDINE at Purfleet following her naming ceremony. 

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AIDA at berth 34/5 Southampton.

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The MSC OPERA at berth 104, Southampton.

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HMS DARING at Portsmouth.

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MSC OPERA, the first of the five cruise ships to depart.

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MARE NOSTRUM shortly after her arrival at Fawley Oil Terminal.

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GAS EVOLUZIONE at Fawley Oil Terminal.

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CELEBRITY ECLIPSE departing at the end of our cruise.

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GRAND PRINCESS departing for Las Palmas.

Photographs and report by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 4th June 2011 - Solent Cruise (1)

On a warm and bright Saturday morning 59 TSS members and friends congregated at Ocean Village, Southampton. We were there for our noon departure on our old favourite, the Blue Funnel vessel ‘Ocean Scene’, for the first Solent Cruise of the year.

Having boarded, we set off and began with a cruise of Southampton docks. Unfortunately, apart from five cruise ships and three vehicle carriers, the docks were quite quiet, with no vessels at all in the container terminal. The vehicle carriers Autostar and Aida did however present some good photographic opportunities as we made our way out of the River Itchen and into the docks. P&O's cruise ship Oceana was the first cruise ship we passed as we rounded dockhead, followed by the P&O's Azura in Ocean dock along with the Wilhelmsen vehicle carrier Tarifa.

In the western docks the Celebrity Eclipse was at the City Cruise Terminal, followed by the MSC Opera at berth 104, recently in the news having broken down on her first cruise out of Southampton. At the Mayflower Cruise Terminal, was the Grand Princess, having recently emerged from a refit minus her distinctive "shopping trolley handle" on her stern. As there were no ships in the container port we turned around and proceeded down Southampton Water, bound for Portsmouth.

The large tanker Mare Nostrum was in the process of berthing at Fawley Oil Terminal, so we had to keep a good distance away as her two tugs swung her off her berth. We would get good close up views of her and the other tankers at Fawley on our return trip from Portsmouth.

On to Portsmouth now via the North channel. Portsmouth harbour was quite quiet, but two recent additions to our navy, the destroyers HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless were present. Their sleek lines provided a contrast to the type 42 destroyer HMS Gloucester which was berthed around the corner. She will be decomissioned in a few weeks time. The Del Monte operated reefer Star Endeavour I was berthed in Portsmouth commercial port.

As time was getting on we departed Portsmouth to make our way back to Southampton to see the departure of the five cruise ships, the first of which was due to depart at 16:00.

We managed to get back to Calshot to get in a good position to see the first of the cruise ships MSC Opera outward bound. Unfortunately by this time the sun had disappeared behind a bank of cloud, but some reasonable shots of the departing cruise ships were had. The second cruise ship out was the Celebrity Eclipse, followed in quick succession by the Grand Princess, Azura and finally the Oceana. We then made or way back to Ocean Village where the cruise ended.

With grateful thanks to Simon Martin and other members of the committee for organising the event and also thanks go to Captain Rob and the crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well.

Sunday 26th June 2011 - Rotterdam and Europoort Cruise on Partyschip Diane.

The 10-hour ‘Diane’ Rotterdam and Europoort cruise is always one of the highlights of the year for many people. The cruise is held in June to maximise daylight hours for ship photography and hopefully to ensure that the weather is reasonable. The previous day was dull and grey with intermittent rain in the morning, so the 32 members and friends on the Diane cruise were relieved to see Sunday dawning a little cloudy, but at least dry, with the weather forecast promising a bright afternoon.

Many participants had arrived in Holland a few days earlier, extending their stay around the Diane cruise to make a longer break in Holland, others were planning on staying on during the following week either staying in Rotterdam or travelling further afield. 

Having assembled on board the Diane at 9am, we started our cruise by proceeding downriver towards Europoort. We took the Hartelkanaal, around the back of Botlek and the Caland Canal to position ourselves at Europoort in the Mississippihaven where the large bulk carrier Vogebulker was being discharged. We then proceeded on to the container berths in Amazonehaven, where the highlight was the huge new CSCL Jupiter. She is 2011 built and of 150,853grt. Europahaven was quiet, but did produce the Ebba Maersk another container leviathan. The new container berths at the Euromax terminal at Maasvlakte yielded the Cosco Taicang.

As we exited the Europoort complex via the Beerkanaal, the inward bound MSC Luciana, MOL Maneuver and outward bound capesize bulker Linda Dream provided plenty of photographic opportunities. We also caught up with the arriving bulk carrier Pochard being turned prior to berthing in Beneluxhaven. A quick look in the tug harbour on the Caland Canal produced nice photos of some of the Fairplay and Smit tug fleet. by now the weather had brightened up and the sun was beginning to show itself.

The Caland Canal was quite busy. In addition to several tankers on the various oil berths, several vessels were moored in the canal providing good subjects for the photographers. Of note was the departing ice strengthened Stena Atlantica, the VLCC Onoba and the rather forlorn looking FSPO Gryphon A, awaiting a berth in the Damen shipyards in Schiedam.

Back through the lock at Rozenburg and the Hartelkanaal for Botlek Harbour. During this quiet period, shipping wise, our excellent buffet lunch was served.

After lunch we arrived at Botlek Harbour where several bulk carriers were berthed as well as the arriving tanker Stolt Topaz. A few offshore platforms were also being worked on in the shipyards. Having covered Botlek harbour we made our way up the Nieuwe Maas bound for the old harbours at Rotterdam. Eemshaven produced a number of container feeders including the inward bound Ines Bolten. Several members were surprised when we passed the Waalhaven harbour and many interesting vessels could be seen on the berths there. However our captain had another plan. The two Holland America cruise ships Rijndam and Rotterdam had just departed Rotterdam cruise terminal, so we stayed in the river to photograph these two smart ships as they passed at close quarters, the Rotterdam being escorted by the RPA 10 spraying water from her fire hoses. 

Having viewed the coasters berthed in the Parkhaven we then returned to the Waalhaven to view the vessels there. These included impressive the new dredger Congo River and SAL's new heavy lift vessel Lone. The departing large container ship Dal Kalahari also provided a good photographic subject in the brilliant sunshine and blue skies.

Our cruise was now nearing completion, but not before we had viewed the shipping in the Damen Shipyard at Schiedam, including the newly repainted LPG tanker Baltic Gas. One of the last vessels to be photographed was the bulk carrier Cornelia berthed in Vulcaanhaven after which our cruise ended. Having disembarked from the Diane, after a very rewarding cruise, we made our way back to our respective hotels and the rest of our stay in Holland. 

With grateful thanks to Paul Mason for organising the day and of course to the captain and crew of the Partyschip Diane for another wonderful experience and excellent hospitality.  

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The new containership CSCL JUPITER at Europoort. Big, but not necessarily beautiful?

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FSPO GRYPHON A moored in the Caland Canal, prior to moving to the Damen shipyard at Schiedam for a well deserved refit.

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StenaBulk ICE tanker STENA ATLANTICA departing from the Caland Canal.

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STOLT TOPAZ berthing in Botlek Harbour.

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Holland America's RIJNDAM departing from Rotterdam...

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...followed by the ROTTERDAM escorted by the Rotterdam Port Authority vessel RPA 10.

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Assisted by two Smit tugs, the DAL KALAHARI departing from Waalhaven harbour.

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The large new Belgian dredger CONGO RIVER in the Waalhaven. She has a deadweight of  40,590 tons!

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Newly repainted, the LPG tanker BALTIC GAS in the Damen shipyard, Schiedam.

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Evening sun on the bulk carrier CORNELIA at the end of our cruise.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

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MARE BALTIC berthed at Coryton.

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SAND FULMAR was in Southend anchorage...

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...and the ro-ro CLEMENTINE.

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TERNVAG outward bound in the Thames Estuary.

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SVITZER VICTORY underway in the Medway.

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The containership PORTOFINO departing from the Medway.

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BOMAR VENUS at the Vopak Jetty.

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Cobelfret's VESPERTINE at Purfleet.

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CMA CGM HOMERE departing from the Thames at the end of our cruise.

Saturday 9th July 2011 - Thames and Medway Cruise (2)

The second of this year's Thames and Medway trips took place on board our old friend the Princess Pocahontas on Saturday 9th July. The day had dawned bright and sunny with just a little cloud forming by the time 65 members and friends departed Gravesend at 10am.

We started by proceeding downriver to Coryton, Southend anchorage and the River Medway. Having passed the new works for the Thames Gateway project, which had progressed substantially since our last visit, we photographed the tankers at Coryton, these included the Mare Baltic, Clipper Bricco and BP's British Kestrel. On now to Southend anchorage, where five ships were present, including the tanker Coastalwater, the Cemex dredger Sand Fulmar, Cobelfret's ro-ro Clementine, which we managed to photograph having negotiated a procession of yachts which grudgingly made way for the Princess Pocahontas.

We had noticed the ro-ro Ostrand in the channel inbound for Tilbury Dock from Iggesund, so Captain Potter made every effort to position the Princess Pocahontas on the sunny side of her. She was, however, too fast for us, but this did put us in a good position to photograph the tanker Ternvag, which was also outward bound.

On now to the Medway, where we were told that the containership Portofino, currently on Thamesport was about to depart. We caught up with her off the berth and followed her outward bound together with the two tugs Svitzer Victory and Svitzer Morag which had assisted her off the berth. Apart from the departing containership the only other vessel in the Medway was the vehicle carrier Isar Highway, which had just arrived at Sheerness from Emden. We left the Medway, passing the paddle steamer Kingswear Castle, with much blowing of whistles.

Our tasty ploughman's lunch was then served, washed down with various beverages from the bar as we made our way back up the Thames. By now it had become a little overcast, but still with some bright spells.

We passed the outbound Selandia Seaways, on her regular service to Gothenburg as we made our way upriver. At Tilbury Landing Stage the tug Smit Ahoada had arrived since our departure earlier in the morning. We then proceeded upriver past the containerships Rio Bravo and CMA CGM Homere at Northfleet. Both were due to depart within an hour. 

At Gray's terminal German Tanker's Seamarlin was berthed. On arrival at Vopak's terminal at Purfleet, the tanker Bomar Venus was photographed together with the Coastalwater, seen earlier in Southend anchorage.

Finally before turning back for Gravesend, Cobelfret's Vespertine was noted at their terminal. On our journey downriver, we passed the inbound tanker Crystal Ambra and also witnessed the containership CMA CGM Homere making ready for departure at Northfleet container terminal. By the time we were tying up at Gravesend the CMA CGM Homere had caught us up and she made a good photograph as she passed us in the early evening sunshine.

All that remains is to thank Mick Axford and other members of the committee for organising another excellent trip and also of course to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for their hospitality.  

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 6th August 2011 - Solent Cruise (2)

Over 60 TSS members and friends arrived at Southampton for the midday sailing of Blue Funnel's Ocean Scene for the second Solent Cruise of our 2011 programme. The weather forecast was not great, with rain forecast for the afternoon in the Southampton area. The morning had already seen some rain for members who had arrived earlier in the day.

Nevertheless by the time we sailed just after midday the rain had disappeared and it appeared to be brightening up. After departing from Ocean Village our first sighting was of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen vehicle carrier Don Juan, being bunkered by the Whitonia. We then passed the small coaster Nicole-C loading grain for Seville at 36 berth. We proceeded around dockhead and then to Ocean Dock where the first of three cruise ships in the port was berthed. P&O's Oceana had arrived earlier in the day from Gibraltar. Also photographed in Ocean Dock were the Huelin-Renouf vessels Huelin Endeavour and Huelin Dispatch which maintain a freight service to the Channel Islands. 

We proceeded now, to the Western Docks where the other two cruise ships Independence of the Seas and Grand Princess were berthed. Also in the Western Docks was the general cargo vessel Nordkap, loading yachts. She sailed the next day for Gibraltar. In the container berths, the large CMA CGM Vela and the smaller OOCL Norfolk were photographed. We then retraced our steps back to the Eastern Docks where the vehicle carrier Oregon Highway was getting ready for departure, unusually assisted by one of the Fawley based Solent Towage tugs, the Vortex

Onwards towards Portsmouth we passed Fawley where only two coastal tankers were berthed. It has now become quite cloudy with poor light for photography. Our lunch was served as we left Fawley behind and proceeded down the North Channel dodging the plethora of yachts taking part in the Cowes Week yacht races. The inward bound vehicle carrier Gran Canaria Car was quite difficult to photograph due to the yachts in the vicinity. 

Portsmouth produced all three of the new type 45 destroyers, HMS Daring, HMS Dauntless and HMS Diamond, as well as HMS Illustrious, now converted to a helicopter carrier. The fast ferry Normandie Express was also at the International Ferry Port. 

We now retraced our steps back to Southampton to be in time to photograph the three cruise ship departures. By this time the sun had come out as well! We timed it almost perfectly and Captain Rob of the Ocean Scene manoeuvred our vessel into a perfect position to get "sunny side" photographs of the first cruise ship to depart. The Independence of the Seas looked great as she passed us with dark rain clouds in the background. She was followed a few minutes later by the Grand Princess outward bound for Cadiz. As we passed her, on the other side of us was the large tanker Hanne Knutsen, being berthed by the Fawley tugs. She was still wearing the spinnaker of a yacht she had collided with off Cowes on her port side anchor! The final cruise ship, P&O's Oceana, also passed us as we made our way back to Ocean Village, where the cruise ended at 6pm.

All in all a great day out and our thanks must go to Simon Martin and other members of the committee for organising the day. Of course grateful thanks go to Captain Rob and the crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well. We look forward to our cruises on the Ocean Scene next year.   

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NICOLE-C loading grain at Southampton.

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NORDKAP engaged in the transport of yachts at berth 201.

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OOCL NORFOLK at Southampton container terminal.

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HMS DAUNTLESS at Portsmouth.

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HMS ILLUSTRIOUS now a helicopter carrier.

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The first of the cruise ships to depart - INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS...

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...followed by the GRAND PRINCESS.

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Tanker HANNE KNUTSEN berthing at Fawley Oil Terminal.

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OCEANA was the final cruise ship to depart.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

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Egyptian ro-ro AL HURREYA 2 off Algeciras.

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ALYARMOUK in the Eastern Anchorage, Gibraltar.

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Chinese bulker CHANG HO.

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GEMINI laid up at Gibraltar.

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GULMAR BADARO off Gibraltar.

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HELLESPONT TATINA arriving for dry-docking.

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MARTIN I SOLER departing from Algeciras.

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SEZAI SELAH anchored off Gibraltar.

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SHANTI off Algeciras.

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Bulker STAR KIRKENES off Gibraltar.


10th to 14th October - Back to a Rock, Some Apes and Ships

Crossing the Spanish coast at Malaga, our British Airways flight arced round over the Straits of Gibraltar & Algeciras Bay to bring the TSS into Gibraltar for another photographic tour. Once again we were staying at the Rock Hotel with its view across to the port of Algeciras.

As usual, members were free to ‘do their own thing’ all of the time, most joining up at Marina Bay for the daily cruises round the anchorage with the Dolphin Adventure. Our Monday trip was affected by a strong easterly breeze which caused us to roll about a bit at the extremity of the bay. Bad visibility, in the form of a thick haze over Algeciras affected our trip on the Wednesday.

But, we certainly saw a wide range of ships during our stay, including Egyptian ro-ro AL HURREYA 05/6542; Libyan oil tankers MAETIGA 09/29304 & ALYARMOUK 08/61342; Chinese bulker CHANG HO 00/43568 & a clutch of UASC container ships. There were two laid up cruise ships in Gibraltar, GEMINI 92/19093 & OCEAN PEARL 70/22945; plus there were day visits by several more cruise ships. There was of course the daily change of ships coming in for bunkers & a regular stream of ships for berths in Algeciras. Tanker HELLESPONT TATINA 99/56324 arrived for dry docking at the Cerneval shipyard & we were able to photograph her in & out of the water.

But, soon it was time to return home, to sort out all of the photographs & log-books.

Thanks to South Quay Travel for all of the arrangements & to Ian & Roger T who were our tour leaders.

(Report and photographs by Roger Hammond.)

1st to 6th November - Bay of Biscay (Brest & St. Nazaire)

Our group gathered at the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Port to join the 2015 departure of the Brittany Ferries vessel Bretagne (89/21829 FRA). Our departure followed the reefer Timor Stream (98/9307 LBR), cruise ship Boudicca (73/28372 BHS) and the roro ferry Commodore Goodwill (96/11166 BHS). After food and testing the amenities, it was to bed in anticipation for the 0815, local time, arrival in St Malo.

Our onward coach was arranged for around 1300 to allow for the high tide and any ships that it brought. We were fortunate with three arrivals to the port which included the new build Douwe-S (11/2862 NLD), plus one departure, the Sormovskiy 3064 (89/3048 RUS). 

Arrival in St Nazaire was late afternoon which allowed us time to ‘get our bearings’ before finding a place to eat. The following morning we grouped at the visitors area within one of the large preserved ex WWII U-Boat pens where we joined our coach for the 2 hour visit to the STX Europe shipbuilding facility. An excellent tour, where we witnessed the progression of building a ship from start to finish. Steel plate in by rail to the final fitting out. At the time of our visit, the MSC Divina (12/137936 PAN) was taking onboard ‘cabin modules’ during final fitting out. The remainder of the day was at leisure. This meant long walks around the relatively open docks to photograph the vessels present. These included eight of the local tugs including VB Nantes and VB Bretagne (both 05/389 FRA) recently acquired from the Dutch company Kotug. The Norman Voyager (08/27700 GBR) and ST Sara (07/5371 FRA) appeared to be refitting plus others which had been worked on or were awaiting attention.

The commercial port for containers and bulk cargos were situated further up river beyond the massive bridge spanning the Loire.

The following morning we were departing for Lorient and the preserved French submarine Flore. She is to be found high & dry in amongst the U-Boat pens. An audio-visual show preceded a walk through of the submarine. The newbuild French destroyer Aquitaine D650 transited the river back to the builders following probable trials. It was then back on the coach and onward to Brest.

There was sufficient daylight remaining to enable a trip to the docks. The cable ship IT Interceptor (88/7374 BRB) was in port together with the local area ETV the Abeille Bourbon (05/3200 FRA). The Matterhorn (85/5102 LBR) and Captain Tsarev (82/9948 PAN) also present appeared to be ‘long term’ visitors. There were a few hours free the following morning which allowed for a final exploration with the sunlight from an alternative direction prior to joining the coach for the return trip to St Malo.

We again managed to arrive at the port in time for the high tide, this time only two movements, the Noest (95/1546 NLD) locking inward and the recently acquired local vessel Polaris 1 (73/345 FRA) departing. There was time to visit the town of St Malo and have an early evening meal before joining the Bretagne for the return trip to Portsmouth.

In the gloom of the dawn, several vessels were seen in the St Helens anchorage off of the Isle of Wight prior to entering Portsmouth Harbour. There, on a quiet Sunday morning we found the latest Type 45 destroyer for the Royal Navy, HMS Dragon plus the three vessels building for the Omani Navy. In addition, the three vessels that were originally ordered for the Trinidad & Tobago Coastguard were also present.

The trip had ended; it was now time to witness rail engineering work at its best.

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BALTIYSKIY 109 at St Malo

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LADY NOVA arriving at St Malo

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ONEGO SPIRIT at St Nazaire with newbuild MSC DIVINA in the background

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Preserved submarine FLORE at Lorient

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Report and Photographs by Ray Smith

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