Thames Ship Society



             2013 Review              (Updated 18th September 2013) 

Saturday 26th January 2013 - Winter Social at Dover.

Over 40 TSS members participated in the Winter Social held at the Dover Marina Hotel on the seafront at Dover. A few participants arrived early in the bright winter sunshine to photograph a few of the ferries at Dover, many of which have recently changed their ownership and liveries since the unfortunate demise of SeaFrance last year.

The first vessel noted was the Nord Pas-De-Calais, ex Seafrance Nord Pas-De-Calais. She now operates for MyFerryLink, a new operator on the Dover to Calais route. Following that we photographed the departure of the Dunkerque Seaways and European Seaway and the arrival of P&O's Pride of Kent. Finally the Dieppe Seaways departed. She was originially the Seafrance Moliere but is now running for DFDS on the Dover to Calais route.

We gathered in the bar of the hotel at midday for a pre-lunch tipple before a very nice three course lunch which was enjoyed by those present.

Following lunch and coffee we were treated to a slide show given by Ron Davies, featuring "Classic Ships at Rotterdam in the Early Seventies". The excellent slide show featured ships of all shapes and sizes with many classic cargo ships featured. They brought back pleasant memories for many of our members.

The slide show finished at about 17:00 at which time we headed for home. Our thanks go to Roger Hammond for the impeccable organisation on the day and to the staff of the hotel for their hospitality. Lastly many thanks to Ron Davies for the wonderful slide show.


NORD PAS-DE-CALAIS arriving at Dover.


DUNKERQUE SEAWAYS departing for Dunkirk.


EUROPEAN SEAWAY outbound from Dover.



Saturday 6th April 2013 - Portishead Ship Show.

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

Saturday 13th April 2013  - AGM & Southampton Cruise

About 35 TSS members assembeld in a very dull and wet Southampton on 13th April for the Annual General Meeting and Southampton Cruise. The Blue Funnel vessel Ocean Scene was again the venue for the day, which started off with a three course meal, which was up the the usual excellent standard that we have come to expect from the Blue Funnel catering team.

Following the meal the AGM commenced comprising of reports from the Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Following the committee's reports, the committee was re-elected. Our treasurer Ray Smith retired from the post this year and was presented with a gift in acknowlegement of his fifteen years of service. A replacement for Ray is urgently needed in order for the society to function to it's full potential in coming years.

Once the formalities of the AGM were complete, we cast off for a cruise around Southampton Docks and down to Fawley. Photographic opportunities were severely limited due to the wind and heavy rain which was now falling. This didn't deter a few hardy souls from venturing out on to the open deck to take some photos. In the Eastern Docks was the vehicle carrier Talia, as well as P&O's Oceana at the Ocean Cruise Terminal. The reserarch ship James Cook was also at 49 berth.

Saga Cruise's Saga Sapphire was at the City Cruise Terminal. Also in the Western Docks were the vehicle carrier Asian Breeze and the laid up container ship Qingdao Tower.

Down to Fawley now, which was quite busy with the product tanker Tavrichesky Bridge in the process of departing, assisted by the new Solent Towage tug Lomax. She is in her first month of operation at Fawley. Also at Fawley were the tankers United Journey and Hildegaard. We now retraced out steps back to Southampton, still in the rain, to see the Oceana departing on a cruise to (hopefully) a sunnier destination!

Our cruise finished at about 17:30 and we said our goodbyes. With thanks to Simon Martin for organising the day and of course to the Captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for their ususal excellent hospitality.


JAMES COOK berthed in the Eastern Docks.


SAGA SAPPHIRE at the City Cruise Terminal.


QINGDAO TOWER laid up in the Western Docks.


The new Solent Towage tug LOMAX at Fawley.



Photos by Chris Brooks.


HARBOUR FASHION passes Northbound for Kaliningrad.


Russian cargo ship KAPITAN KUROPTEV passing Northbound on 24th April.


Superb photographic conditions as the BIANCA RAMBOW passes on 25th April.


Veteran tug EMS TUG passes Southbound on 25th April.


LATANA passing Southbound on 25th April.


Another for the tug enthusiasts, the ARION passing Northbound.


SLOTERGRACHT one of two Spleithoff vessels seen on 25th April.


Veteran Polish tug CYKLOP passes Southbound with a newbuild tug hull on 26th April.


The largest vessel to pass Rendsburg during our stay - the CHAMPION SPIRIT on 27th April.

Photos by Chris Brooks

23rd to 27th April 2013 - Relax by the Kiel Canal - Visit to Rendsburg

Over 20 TSS members assembled at Heathrow airport on 23rd April for the trip to Rendsburg on the Kiel Canal. We were a day later than the trip has originally been organised for, due to a one day strike by Lufthansa which had coincided with our original departure date. Following some excellent organisation by Roger Hammond and other members of the TSS committee, the dates for the trip were shifted by one day.

Once again, we stayed at the excellent Convent Garten Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis and arrived there via coach during the early afternoon after an uneventful flight to Hamburg. The hotel is ideally located alongside the Canal on the North Bank, about a 20-30 minute walk from the town centre and the railway station.

Soon after arrival we were on the banks of the canal, photographing passing shipping which included the tugs Max and Parat towing a large barge and the large tanker Torm Gyda.

The next day dawned with nice sunshine in the morning and the enthusiastic amongst our group were out on the banks of the canal before breakfast photographing the passing shipping. Others had a more leisurely start! After breakfast we took up our favourite spots for photography, most of us crossing the canal to the Southern bank with the sun behind us. Vessels seen during this day included the tanker Harbour Fashion and the Russian general cargo ship Kapitan Kuroptev.

Some members of our group decided to venture further afield with trips via train to Hamburg and Kiel. Most of the group stayed around the Rendsburg area with some stretching their legs to take in a walk to the ferry crossing several miles down the canal.

The next day was the best day of the trip weatherwise, with sunshine and no breeze. These conditions made for some excellent photo opportunities of the vessels passing through the canal, with superb reflections in the still water. Highlights of the day's movements included the veteran tug Ems Tug, the tankers Seychelles Progress and Latana and two Spleithoff vessels, the Slotergracht heading North and the Saimaagracht heading South.

Although Friday dawned dry and fairly bright, rain arrived during the early afternoon, which put paid to all but the most enthusiastic of photographers. The rain abated slightly so that we could photograph the veteran Polish tug Cyklop passing with a newbuild tug hull lashed to her port side.

All too soon, the last day of our stay arrived. The morning was spent on the banks of the canal, with the largest vessel of our stay passing shortly before our departure. She was the tanker Champion Spirit which made an impressive sight passing through the canal in a light condition. Our journey back to the airport was uneventful and we arrived back in Heathrow early evening where our tour ended. As usual, our thanks go to our tour leaders, Roger Hammond and Simon Martin especially in this instance for the last minute re-arrangements for the trip. Also to our travel agent, South Quay Travel for the work that they put in re-booking the flights etc.

Saturday 18th May 2013  - Thames and Medway Cruise (1)

Rain had been forecast for Saturday 18th May, the date of the first Thames and Medway trip on board the Princess Pocahontas. Mercifully, the weather forecast changed the day before and we were greeted with a dry, but mainly cloudy day as we assembled on the landing stage at Gravesend. Once all were aboard, we made our way down river past Carisbrooke’s Greta C at Tilbury Power Station’s jetty. The construction site for the London Gateway container terminal had progressed since our last cruise in 2012. Container cranes now await the arrival of the first container ship later this year, with the dredgers Victor Horta and Ham 316 engaged in dredging operations near the site. Of course, Coryton is no longer in operation, so the jetties there were sadly empty.

After chasing the inbound Obbola and Danica Hav, we photographed the Arklow Meadow in Southend anchorage. She was waiting for a berth at Tilbury Power Station. Over now to the Medway, taking this lull in shipping to partake of our ploughman's lunches. The Medway was a little quiet except for the Thames Sailing Barge race which was in full swing. We passed quite close to several of the competitors in full sail. Thamesport provided an opportunity to photograph the container feeder Pantonio. We took a little diversion up the River Swale to look at the various vessels laid up there and then proceeded back up the Thames. On our way back up the river we passed the outward bound TransPulp and Stenberg.

Northfleet Container Terminal was busy with the Hamburg-Sud vessel Santa Clara making ready for departure and also the CMA CGM Aristote was present. The second Carisbrooke vessel of the day was on Tilbury Grain Termial, the Nicole C. Upriver now to the Dartford Crossing with Offen’s CPO Finland at the Vopak terminal and the usual Cobelfret ro-ros at Purfleet. At this point we turned back down river for Gravesend, passing the incoming tanker FS Philippine on our way.

The cruise ended at Gravesend where we disembarked and made our way home. Thanks go to Mick Axford and other members of the committee for organising the day and also to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for another excellent day out.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.


DANICA HAV inbound in the Thames estuary.


ARKLOW MEADOW anchored off Southend.


Thames Sailing barge NIAGARA in the Medway.


PANTONIO berthed at Thamesport.


SANTA CLARA at Northfleet Container Terminal.


CPO Finland at the Vopak Terminal.


FS PHILIPPINE inbound in the Thames.

Photos from the first 2012 Solent Cruise

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A802 SNELLIUS berthed at Portsmouth.

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TORM ALICE anchored in the Solent.

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GRANDE ROMA departing from Southampton.

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CELEBRITY ECLIPSE, one of four cruise ships in Southampton.

Photos by Chris Brooks

Saturday 8th June 2013 - Solent Cruise (1)

Our private cruise will start at 12.00 from Ocean Village Marina, Southampton on the Blue Funnel vessel Ocean Scene.

Ocean Scene has two open deck areas as well as large enclosed saloons with toilets, and is an excellent platform for photography. Lunch is included in the cost and the bar will be open for the purchase of drinks and light refreshments.

The cruise will cover Southampton Docks, which are served by some of the largest containerships afloat and is also the UK's busiest port for cruise ships. Other regular visitors include bulk carriers, reefers, vehicle carriers and coasters. Fawley and Hamble Oil Terminals should provide excellent opportunities to photograph all types of tankers. The furthest extent of our cruise, Portsmouth Harbour, will provide the opportunity to see Royal Navy warships and auxiliaries and possibly some ferries. The course of our cruise will depend upon the tides on the day, the discretion of the Captain and Port Control instructions.

The cruise will end at approximately 18.00.

Sunday 23rd June 2013 - Rotterdam and Europoort Cruise on Partyschip Diane.

Saturday 23rd June dawned wet and windy - typical June weather! Despite the inclement weather approximately 40 TSS members assembled at Vlaadingen for the annual cruise around the Port of Rotterdam and Europoort on board the Partyschip Diane.

We set off in rather wet conditions, on our way to Europoort via the Hartelkanaal. On our arrival at Mississippihaven, the bulk berths were very busy with four large bulk carriers present. Likewise the container berths in Amazonehaven, Europahaven and Yangtzehave were all well populated. By this time there was a distinct improvement in the weather, with the grey clouds parting and the sun making an appearance.

In the Caland Canal, the large containership Maersk Essen was moored, fully laden, an unusual sight in this part of Europoort. Also the tanker Delta Pioneer was being manoeuvred alongside the moored tanker Genmar George T. We had close up views of the tugs including the Fairplay 21 assisting her. Through now to Britanniehaven where the usual Cobelfret ro-ro's were berthed. At this point, when we entered the locks at Rozenburg for the journey back to Rotterdam, our excellent buffet lunch was served.

In Botlek harbour, there were several offshore rigs undergoing maintenance. For the tug enthusiasts the ITC ocean going tug Boulder was present. The bulk berths were a little quiet, although the Lady Anthula H which had arrived earlier in the day was moored nearby. We now progressed back to Rotterdam along the Nieuwe Maas, visiting Eemhaven and Waalhaven on the way which were populated, as usual with a diverse selection of vessels. We proceeded up as far as the Maashaven where the old cruise ship Rotterdam is now berthed as a floating hotel.

On the way back to Vlaardingen we called in at several harbours on the northern side of the river, the most interesting of which was Wiltonhaven at Schiedam, which contains the dry docks of the Damen Shiprepair facility. Moored in the shipyard was the impressive Heerema deep water construction vessel Aegir, newly built and due to enter service soon, complete with an impressive 4,000 tonne capacity crane.

By now we were getting to the end of our cruise and shortly we berthed at the Diane's pier at Vlaardingen where we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Another excellent cruise, made all the better by some reasonable weather. With thanks, as always, to the captain and crew of the Diane for their hospitality and also to Ian Cochran and other members of the committee for organising the day.


BRITISH EAGLE at Europoort.


E.R. RIGA at Europahaven, Europoort.


MAERSK ESSEN moored in the Caland Canal.


FAIRPLAY 21 assisting the DELTA PIONEER in the Caland Canal.


GENMAR GEORGE T in the Caland Canal.


ITC's BOULDER in Botlek Harbour.


LADY ANTHULA H in Botlek Harbour.


Heerema's newbuild AEGIR in Wiltonhaven.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.


GRANDE AMBURGO inbound for Tilbury Dock.


YARA FROYA inbound from Sluiskil.


SAMSKIP INNOVATOR in the Thames Estuary.


CITY OF LONDON anchored off Southend.


WARNOW MARS also in the Southend Anchorage.


Polsteam's RABA in the anchorage.


MYSTRAS at Tilbury Power Station.


LARS MAERSK at Northfleet Hope.


CPO FRANCE at the Vopak Terminal.


GPS INDIA inbound at Dartford.

Thursday 11th July 2013 - Thames and Medway Cruise (2)

The second Thames and Medway trip of the year took place during a period of sunny and warm weather. However, on the morning of the trip the participants assembled on a chilly morning with a grey cloudy sky. Luckily, just as we cast off the clouds disappeared and it was sunny skies for the rest of the day.

As usual we proceeded down river past the incoming Grimaldi vehicle carrier Grand Amburgo bound for Tilbury Dock from Dakar. She was followed by the Yara Froya which started life as the general cargo ship Flinterboreas. She has now been converted in Tuzla, Turkey, by Yara Gas into a CO2 tanker, entering service earlier this year. She was arriving on her usual service from Sluiskil in the Netherlands. A number of other vessels passed us inward bound during our passage out to Southend anchorage including the Eems Star, City of Westminster, Cymbeline, Samskip Innovator, Sand Fulmar and Vantage. On our way we passed the new container terminal at the London Gateway, now complete with container cranes and a feeder containership, Pictor J, moored alongside so that the crane operators could practice moving containers on and off a vessel. The large Belgian dredger Breughel was dredging off the new London Gateway site.

In Southend anchorage we were fortunate to encounter three vessels. The first was the local dredger City of London having arrived earlier in the day from Southampton. The two more interesting vessels were the Polsteam bulk carrier Raba which was awaiting a berth at Tilbury Power Station, having arrived from Amsterdam and the geared cargo ship Warnow Mars.

Although we planned to go into the Medway, to view vessels at Sheerness and Thamesport, the entire river was devoid of shipping so we didn't bother and headed back up the Thames. There was no traffic passing us outward bound so we had our ploughman's lunch and relaxed in the warm sunshine.

Our next sighting was the bulk carrier Mystras at Tilbury Power Station. We proceeded up river past the container ships Lars Maersk and Vantage berthed at Northfleet Hope container terminal and the small cargo ship Blue Lion at Tilbury Grain Terminal. The tanker Seychelles Pioneer was at Grays Terminal and the Offen owned CPO France and the Thun Garland were at the Vopak Terminal. Peregrine was at the Cobelfret terminal at Purfleet. Shortly after Purfleet we turned back towards Gravesend passing the newly renamed local tug GPS India towing a barge and slowly catching up the outward bound coaster Shetland Trader.

We arrived back at Gravesend passing the inbound Cobelfret ro-ro Catherine as we turned on to our berth. Another successful Thames and Medway trip was over. Our thanks go to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for another very enjoyable trip and to members of the committee for organising the day.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks

Saturday 10th August 2013 - Solent Cruise (2)

The second Solent cruise of the year took place on Saturday 10th August in reasonably sunny weather conditions. Due to the state of the tides it was decided to break with tradition and cover Portsmouth first followed by Southampton. Upon our departure from Ocean Village we proceeded down Southampton water past the incoming Spleithoff general cargo ship Schippersgracht which was arriving from Gibraltar with a cargo of yachts. Fawley was busy with several tankers, but we would be closer to photograph them on the return journey. The Tsakos tanker Selini was on the BP jetty at Hamble. During the journey across the Solent it was time for our ploughman's lunch, which was interrupted by the incoming LPG tanker Lady Hilde steaming past us at close quarters.

We arrived at Portsmouth in nice sunny conditions. The port was quite busy with two type 45 destroyers, D34 Diamond and D37 Duncan present as well as the helicopter carrier Illustrious and the frigate F237 Westminster, which were making preparations to leave for the well publicised exercise in the Mediterranean. Fugro's offshore supply ship Markab was an unusual visitor to Portsmouth Ferry Port, she departed later in the day bound for the proposed Eon Rampion windfarm site off the coast of Sussex. On our exit from Portsmouth harbour we passed the incoming reefer Ivory Girl which was being assisted by three(!) Serco tugs.

On our departure from Portsmouth we retraced our steps back across the Solent to Fawley Oil Terminal. A good selection of tankers were present including the Sallie Knutsen, Seychelles Pioneer, MRC Semiramis, Oliphant and Clipper Moon. the tug enthusiasts were kept happy with the sighting of the new Solent Towage tug Lomax at the tug berth at Fawley.

Back at Southampton, the four cruise ships in port were getting ready to depart. The first to leave was the Crown Princess which passed us just off Hythe. The Marina of Oceania Cruises was at 38/39 berth also getting ready to depart. As we proceeded through the harbour we passed the outward bound Independence of the Seas. The vehicle carrier California Highway was at 102 berth as was the Schippersgracht which had arrived earlier in the day. The laid up containership Qingdao Tower was at 109 berth looking very sorry for herself.

Around now to the container terminal which was busy with the new 2013 built ultra large NYK Helios, Kuala Lumpur Express and the Fritz Reuter all present.

As we made our way back through the harbour to Ocean Village, the Schippersgracht was preparing to leave from 102 berth, bound for Bremerhaven still with her deck cargo of yachts. The vehicle carrier Leo Spirit was backing out from Ocean Dock and being swung by two tugs prior to her departure. She was follwed out by the Queen Elizabeth which passed us at close quarters on her way out to Stavanger.

We then made out way back to Ocean Village where our cruise ended and we made our way home. Our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well and also the Simon Martin and other committee members for organising the cruise.


The type 45 destroyer D34 Diamond at Portsmouth.


MARKAB was an unusual visitor to Portsmouth Ferry Port.


Reefer IVORY GIRL inbound to Portsmouth.


MARINA at berth 38/39, Southampton.


INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS bound for Gibraltar.


FRITZ REUTER was at Southampton Container Terminal.


2013 built NYK HELIOS was also at the container terminal.


Spleithoff's SCHIPPERSGRACHT at 102 berth, with a cargo of yachts.


Cunard's QUEEN ELIZABETH departing at the end of our cruise.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.


HMS NORTHUMBERLAND inbound in the Thames Estuary.




Hamburg-Sud's SANTA CATARINA outward bound in the Thames Estuary.


HS BEETHOVEN was at the London Gateway terminal.


PENELOPE as at Northfleet Hope Container Terminal.


JULIE C at Tilbury Grain Terminal.


TRANS BORG at the Vopak Terminal...

Northsea-Beta-7-Sep-2013.jpg was the NORTHSEA BETA.

Photos and Report by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 7th September 2013 - Thames and Medway Cruise (3)

Over fourty TSS members gathered at Gravesend landing stage for the third in our popular series of Thames & Medway cruises for 2013 on the Princess Pocahontas.

As on previous cruises, we commenced by heading downstream for the Thames estuary and River Medway. Shortly after departing from Gravesend we passed the incoming Carisbrooke general cargo ship Julie C which was bound for Tilbury Grain Terminal. She was arriving from Trois-Rivieres, Canada. She was followed by the ro-ro Ortviken, a regular caller to Tilbury Dock. By this time we were nearing the new London Gateway terminal, where the large containership HS Beethoven was berthed. She was completely empty and being used to train the crane operators of the new terminal, which comes on-line later this year. We now encountered a convoy of inbound shipping including the Danica Hav, Sea Shannon, Vantage and the tanker Stav Viking. The outbound ro-ro Norstream then overhauled us shortly before the containership Penelope passed us inward bound for Northfleet Hope. She was followed by the frigate HMS Northumberland and the Dutch patrol vessel HNLMS Groningen both bound for the KGV Lock to take part in the large defence exhibition at the ExCel centre the following week.

We then made our way over to the Medway as Southend Anchorages were empty. The Medway was a little quiet with the vehicle carrier Autoprestige at Sheerness and the feeder containership Doris Schepers at Thamesport being the only commercial vessels in the river.

As we departed from the Medway and started to make our way back up the Thames we spotted the large outbound Hamburg-Sud containership Santa Catarina which we passed close to in nice sunshine. She had previously departed from Northfleet Hope for Hamburg. Making out way back up the Thames, we also passed the outbound ro-ro TransPulp bound for Gothenburg.

We proceeded up the Thames, past Gravesend to explore the upriver berths. The Penelope and Vantage which we previously passed inbound were both now berthed at Northfleet Hope container terminal. The Julie C which we had also enountered inward bound was at Tilbury Grain Terminal. The Vopak Oil Jetties produced the tankers Trans Borg and Northsea Beta. Purfleet ro-ro berths were sadly empty.

By now it was time to head back to Gravesend where our cruise drew to a close. As usual, our thanks go the Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for their hospitality and also to Mick Axford and other members of the comittee for organising the day.

Saturday 16th November 2013 - South Coast Ship Show.

We will have a table at the South Coast Ship Show where committee members will be in attendance. Why not come along for a chat with us?

The event is held at the Holiday Inn at Portsmouth near the Southsea seafront. Details can be found here.



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