Thames Ship Society



             2014 Review              (Updated 4th November 2014) 

Saturday 1st February 2014 - Winter Social at Dover.

The Winter Social this year was held in the Dover Marina Hotel situated on the front overlooking the Dover Harbour and the port ferry operations. A fine sunny morning with some photographic opportunities presenting themselves, but there was a cold westerly wind blowing. Thirty six members and guests had originally booked for the occasion but sadly a few fell by the wayside for various reasons.

We were soon to be ushered into the Chartwell Suite for our three course lunch which came in plentiful portions, hot and prompt. After coffee and the tables had been cleared, the room was set up for our afternoon presentation from Don Smith.

Don’s slide show compiled from his near 50 years as a professional maritime photographer around the world was based on his favoured subject of passenger ships intermingled with some cargo, bulk, tug and naval vessels plus the odd fishing boat. Something there for all interests. A good commentary plus considerable audience participation made the afternoon very entertaining.

Saturday 22nd February 2014 - Ship Show at Southampton.

We had a table at the Ocean Liner Society's Ship Show which was be held at the Novotel in Southampton. Committee members were in attendence.

For more information about the Ship Show, visit the Ocean Liner Society website.

Saturday 12th April 2014 - AGM and Southampton Cruise.

The AGM and Southampton Cruise commenced at noon on board Blue Funnel’s Ocean Scene in Ocean Village, Southampton. Following an excellent three course meal and coffee we assembled for the AGM. The proceedings were dealt with efficiently by our committee. Our outgoing treasurer Ray Smith was thanked for his many years of service and our new treasurer Simon Rathband was introduced to everyone.

Following the meeting our cruise around Southampton Docks and Southampton Water commenced. The weather was forecast to be cloudy, but happily the sun was shining. Our first sighting was the vehicle carrier Grand Pioneer loading various vehicles including some very smart looking Bentleys at 35 berth. The tug enthusiasts were happy to see the Svitzer Sarah underway as we rounded dockhead.

The Nagato Reefer which is one of the regular visitors bringing in produce from the Canary Islands was at 40 berth, following an accident on board where a crew member was injured by a falling lifeboat. She departed later in the day back to the Canary Islands. In the Western Docks, the Grimaldi ro-ro Eurocargo Salerno was still at 102 berth having been towed into Southampton following engine failure in the channel in October 2013. Also in the Western Docks were the Marmadura loading yachts for Palma and the coasters BS Sand and Ben Varrey.

The brand new containership Hyundai Dream was at the new container berth, SCT5, formerly berths 201 and 202. She was on her maiden visit to Southampton. The NYK Helios was at the other container berths.

On our way back through the docks we popped into Ocean Dock where the Huelin Dispatch was at her normal berth having arrived from Guernsey earlier in the day.

We then proceeded down Southampton Water, towards Fawley where the Indian tanker Ratna Shradha was being berthed by two of the Fawley tugs. The British Tranquility was at the BP Jetty at Hamble. Sadly by this time the cloud had rolled in hampering the photography. We proceeded back to Ocean Village taking a look in Empress Dock and a little way up the River Itchen on the way back.

We berthed a little early which was good for those who had to battle with the weekend engineering works at Southampton railway station. Our thanks go to Simon Martin and the other committee members for organizing the AGM and cruise, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all on board.


SVITZER SARAH underway in Southampton Harbour.


NAGATO REEFER at berth 40, Eastern Docks.


EUROCARGO SALERNO laid up at 102 berth.


MARMADURA loading yachts at 106 berth.


PS SAND was at 107/108 berth.


BEN VARREY at 108 berth, Western Docks.


HYUNDAI DREAM on her maiden visit to Southampton.


HUELIN DISPATCH at her berth in Ocean Dock.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks


The Dreyfus Airbus ro-ro City of Hamburg at Hamburg.


The Hamburg ferry Hamburgensie.


The tug Kiel at Kiel.


The Nordic Hamburg at ... you've guessed it - Hamburg!


The Spirit of Hamburg at ... Hamburg!!

Report by Stephen Marginson, Photos by Roger Hammond

Thursday 24th April to Monday 28th April 2014 - Visit to Hamburg.

A smaller contingent than expected headed for Hamburg. Our base was the excellent Wilhelm Busch hotel and we were blessed with fine sunny conditions throughout. Friday saw the private charter port cruise covering the berths most of the port tours do not. These are frequented mainly by bulkers. On our trip these included Rave, Yeoman Bridge and Key Mission. The ancient Russian Volga Balt 229 was also noted. Large container ships were represented by NYK Venus, Leverkusen Express, Cosco Pride and CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci. There were also a variety of feeder container ships and tankers noted with the vessel tally amounting to nearly 40.

Saturday most of the party headed for Kiel by train and then to Wik where the 11 bus terminates at the Kiel Canal. In Kiel itself the large cruise ferry Colour Magic and Stena line vessel Stena Scandinavica were both noted. Several movements were noted on the canal with container feeder ships being particularly noticeable with Henneke Rambow, Reinbek, Andromeda J and Katherina Schepers all noted. Bulk vessels were represented by Wilson Livorno and Wilson Farsund.

Sunday most members were at one of the viewing points along the Elbe ranging from Finkenwerder and the nearby park on the south side to Blankense over on the North side. Ship movements were few and far between but the large containerships Cosco Pride and Gudrun Maersk along with tanker Triple A provided some interest on a lovely warm day.

Saturday 17th May 2014  - Thames and Medway Cruise (1)

The first Thames and Medway cruise took place on a mainly cloudy day, which was a pity as several days either side of the trip enjoyed settled and sunny weather. Nevertheless we had a reasonable day on the river with a good few shipping movements. First we encounted the inward bound regular Ortviken for Tilbury. This was followed by the dredger Arco Beck and the colourful Turkish tanker Varkan Akdeniz as we proceeded downriver in the direction of the new London Gateway container terminal. Now fully operational, the large containerships Cap San Lorenzo and Katherine were both present at the terminal. We also viewed the tugs operated by Kotug which compete with the established Svitzer tugs to handle the vessels at the new facility. The Kotug vessels present included the RT Champion and RT Leader.

On now to the Medway which was very quiet, the only encumbent being the container feeder Enforcer at Thamesport. We proceeded up the River Swale in the direction of Ridham Dock, photographing the old tugs Nore Crest and Nore Challenger at their moorings on the river. The dredger City of Westminster bound for Ridham Dock, passed us as we departed from the Swale.

Back now into the Thames Estuary where the containerships Cap San Lorenzo and Katherine were both in the process of departing from the Gateway Terminal. They passed us at close quarters on the way back up the river. We followed the inbound containership MSC Romanos, bound for Northfleet, back up the river, though we did not catch up with her until the tugs were manoeuvring her onto the berth at Northfleet. We continued upriver as far as the Dartford crossing photographing various vessels on the riverside berths, including the tankers Bomar Sedna and Cape Bon at Purfleet and the bulk carrier Rochester Castle at Tower Wharf, before arriving back at Gravesend where our cruise ended. A pleasant day and we thank Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas as well as Mick Axford and other committee members for organising the day.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks


ORTIKEN inward bound for Tilbury.


VARKAN AKDENIZ inward bound in the Estuary.


London Gateway in operation.


Kotug's RT CHAMPION stationed at the Gateway.


CITY OF WESTMINSTER inward bound on the River Swale for Ridham Dock.


CAP SAN LORENZO outward bound from the Gateway.


MSC ROMANOS approaching Northfleet with SVITZER CECILIA.


CMA CGM MUSCA at Southampton container terminal.


CUMBRIAN FISHER anchored off Portsmouth.


USNS BRUCE C HEEZEN at Portsmouth.


HMS DAUNTLESS at Portsmouth Naval Base.


Veteran cruise ship SERENISSIMA at Portsmouth.


CELEBRITY ECLIPSE outbound from Southampton.


MSC OPERA in Southampton Water bound for Ijmuiden.


NORMED ANTWERPEN laden with yachts bound for Palma De Mallorca.

Saturday 7th June 2014 - Solent Cruise (1)

Saturday 7th June dawned grey and wet with scattered thunderstorms. Happily as the TSS members gathered at Ocean Village for the first Solent cruise of 2014, the clouds began to break and the afternoon was nice and sunny with good photographic conditions for the cruise.

We cast off at noon, and started with a cruise around Southampton Docks. The Eastern Docks were quiet with only the vehicle carrier Elektra and Channel Islands cargo vessel Huelin Dispatch present, but the Western Docks were very busy with the large bulk carrier Golden Empress discharging Soya from Argentina, the cruise ships MSC Opera and Celebrity Eclipse and a few other vessels berthed. Four containerships were berthed at the container terminal, including the huge APL Vanda, OOCL Berlin, CMA CGM Musca and Primavera. We retraced our steps back through the docks and out into Southampton water on our way to Portsmouth. At this point our most welcome lunches were served.

The tanker Cumbrian Fisher was anchored off Portsmouth waiting for a berth, having arrived with a cargo of fuel for the naval base. The naval base was quite busy with several Royal Navy vessels including the type 45 destroyers HMS Duncan and HMS Dauntless. The American naval survey vessel USNS Bruce C. Heezen was also present. At the cruise terminal the veteran cruise ship Serenissima was berthed. She was built in 1960 as the Hurtigruten vessel Harald Jarl. We departed from Portsmouth, sadly just a little too early to photograph the incoming reefer Crown Ruby.

We now headed back for Southampton, just in time to get into position on the “sunny side” in Southampton Water for the departing cruise ships. Celebrity Eclipse was the first to leave, bound for Copenhagen, followed by the MSC Opera bound for Ijmuiden. Following the cruise ships was the cargo ship Normed Antwerpen laden with yachts for Palma de Mallorca. Whilst all this was going on we were also in close proximity to the tankers at Fawley oil terminal, including the Anhout Swan and Silver Express.

Soon we were arriving back at Ocean Village at the end of a very enjoyable cruise. Our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well and also Simon Martin and other members of the committee for organizing the day.

Photos and Report by Chris Brooks

Sunday 22nd June 2014 - Rotterdam and Europoort Cruise on Partyschip Diane.

Over 40 TSS members boarded the Partyschip Diane at Vlaardingen on Sunday 22nd June for the annual cruise around Rotterdam and Europoort. This year, as a bonus, the sun was shining. We set off down river, the plan being to cover Europoort and the Caland Canal first. This year we were unable to pass through the locks at the end of the Caland Canal, due to work being undertaken on a bridge, so we would have two transits of the New Waterway instead. We proceeded down the New Waterway being followed by the large MACS cargo ship Bright Sky which overtook us just before we got to Europoort.

At Europoort there were plenty of large vessels present, including the LNG carrier Arctic Voyager, ultra large containerships MSC Faustina, OOCL Brussels and Hyundai Dream , and the very large ore carrier Berge Stahl to name but a few. A number of tankers large and small were berthed in the Caland Canal as well as the FSPO Schiehallion which was being held in position on her moorings by three tugs. We retraced our steps back up the Caland Canal and into the New Waterway bound for Rotterdam. As we made our way up the New Waterway, we passed the outward bound salvage tug Salviceroy and were overtaken by the 2013 built heavy load carrier Rolldock Star.

We soon arrived at Botlek Harbour, which provided us with opportunities to photograph a couple of bulk carriers and the woodchip carrier Keoyang Noble as well as a number of product tankers. The product tanker King Edward was in the process of departing with her attendant tugs. After Botlek we normally visit Eemhaven but we were running short on time due to not being able to use the Caland Canal lock, so we had to give this dock a miss this time. Waalhaven, the next major dock contained two Russian cargo ships Norilskiy Nickel and Ermak, a few laid up vessels including the containerships Vega and Aries and the crude oil tanker Mongolia. Other vessels present included the small bulk carrier Sunrose E and the Allseas accommodation and training vessel Bright Spark, originally Spleithoff’s Amstelgracht.

Sadly time was against us and it was time to make our way back to our base at Vlaardingen, which meant missing out visiting the Parkkade and some of the smaller harbours on the North side of the river. Next year the trip will be extended by an hour so hopefully this won’t happen again. All too soon our cruise was over and it was time to say goodbye to everyone. Our thanks go to Roger Hammond and Ian Cochran and other members of the committee for organizing the trip and to the captain and crew of the Partyship Diane for their wonderful hospitality again.


FAIRPLAYER in Europahaven, Europoort.


OOCL BRUSSELS, one of several large containerships in Europoort.


CAPE ISLAND in Mississippihaven, Europoort.


BP's FSPO Schiehallion in the Caland Canal.


BRITSH CORMORANT was also moored in the Caland Canal.


ROLLDOCK STAR inbound in the Nieuwe Waterweg.


KING EDWARD departing from Botlek Harbour.


SUNROSE E in Waalhaven.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.


NORSKY departing from Tilbury Locks.


SANTA BETTINA departing from Tilbury Container Terminal.


FRI KARMSUND loading at Tilbury Grain Terminal.


STAR OSPREY at the Vopak terminal at Purfleet.


Cobelfret's PALATINE at Purfleet.


EXPANSA at Thamesport in the Medway.

Thursday 10th July 2014 - Thames and Medway Cruise (2)

Sadly, after several sunny days, Thursday July 10th dawned cloudy with the forecast of rain for the South-East. Undeterred, TSS members assembled at 11am at Gravesend to board the Princess Pocahontas for the midweek Thames and Medway cruise.

As we boarded the vessel, the CMA CGM L’Etoile passed outbound from Tilbury container terminal, bound for Dunkirk. Once we were all boarded we cast off and proceeded upriver to view the containership Santa Bettina which was also departing from Tilbury container terminal, as well as the Norsky which was outward bound from Tilbury Lock on her usual service to Zeebrugge. Sadly, by this time it was raining.

Further upriver the Fri Karmsund was loading grain at Tilbury Grain Terminal for Ayr. We then proceeded up to Dartford where the tankers Star Osprey and Isarstern were at the Vopak Terminal at Purfleet. The Cobelfret ro-ro Palatine was at the Cobelfret terminal at Purfleet. We then proceeded downriver, past the inbound Cobelfret ro-ro Victorine arriving from Zeebrugge. Sadly there was no ships berthed at the new London Gateway terminal nor indeed in Southend Anchorage.

The River Medway was quiet also, with only the feeder containership Expansa berthed at Thamesport container terminal, having previously arrived from Moerdijk. Still raining we turned and headed for Gravesend where we arrived around 6pm.

Our thanks go to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for looking after us so well, as they always do. Our thanks also to Mick Axford and other committee members for organizing the day.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 9th August 2014 - Solent Cruise (2)

On a bright sunny day, TSS members assembled at Ocean Village, Southampton for our second Solent Cruise of the year on board Blue Funnel’s Ocean Scene.

This cruise took followed the usual pattern by sailing up the Western Docks towards the container terminal before turning near Eling to return to the Solent via Southampton Water.

Leaving Ocean Village, we passed the vehicle carrier Don Juan, which had just arrived. In the Ocean Dock was the Huelin Dispatch and continuing on to the Western Docks, we passed the cruise ships Independence of the Seas and the Emerald Princess. A rather unusual sight greeted us in the old No 7 drydock where the large bulker Chrysoula S was loading scrap. In the main channel, the large dredger Willem van Oranje was at work. Reaching the container terminal, the first of three giants were seen - the NYK Hyperion. Also alongside the terminal were the two Hapag-Lloyds - Ludwigshafen Express and New York Express. In addition, the two feeders, Katharina B and Canopus were seen. Returning along the Western Docks, the UECC vehicle carrier Baltic Breeze was berthing.

Lunch was served as we headed off towards Portsmouth and on arriving, the fast ferry Normandie Express passed us inward bound followed by the reefer Crown Sapphire with Brittany Ferries’ Mont St Michel outward bound. Alongside the navy base was the usual assortment of UK naval vessels, including HMS Illustrious awaiting her fate and five Daring class destroyers, two of which were berthed in the non-tidal basin. Another reefer, Star Care, was berthed at the reefer terminal, while the MoD chartered Cumbrian Fisher was alongside the Gosport tanker berth.

Retracing our steps, we arrived back to Southampton Water in time to catch the two cruise ships underway, followed by the Don Juan outward bound. Fawley was unusually quiet with just the medium-range (MR) product tanker Stena Weco Gladys W, LPG carrier Lady Martine and chemical tanker Fionia Swan alongside. Finally, it was back ot Ocean Village via the Empress Dock to view the bunker tankers Jaynee W and Whitonia.

Our thanks go to organiser Simon Martin and the Captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for providing another excellent day afloat on the Solent.


NEW YORK EXPRESS at Southampton container terminal.


UECC's BALTIC BREEZE in the Western Docks, Southampton.


CROWN SAPPHIRE arriving at Portsmouth.


HMS ILLUSTRIOUS lying in Portsmouth Harbour.


STENAWECO GLADYS W at Fawley Oil Terminal.


EMERALD PRINCESS outbound in Southampton Water.


DON JUAN followed the cruise ships out of Southampton.

Photos and report by Ian Cochran.


GLOVIS CARDINAL at Tilbury ro-ro berth.


FedNav's FEDERAL SATSUKI at Tilbury grain terminal.


SD SEAHORSE at West Thurrock.


CT CORK at Jurgen's Jetty.


CHOAPA TRADER at Northfleet Container Terminal.


OSTRAND arriving at Tilbury Lock.

Saturday 6th September 2014 - Thames and Medway Cruise (3)

Our third Thames and Medway cruise of the season took place on 6th September on board the Princess Pocahontas. Sadly after a lot of sunny weather the day dawned with grey cloud and mist. Nevertheless we all gathered on the landing stage at Gravesend as the containership Choapa Trader was making her way in to Northfleet Container Terminal, having arrived from Antwerp. We cast off at 10am and proceeded upriver, past the vehicle carrier Glovis Cardinal on Tilbury ro-ro berth. Choapa Trader was berthing at Northfleet assisted by two tugs. On the grain terminal was FedNav’s bulk carrier Federal Satsuki which had arrived from Port Cartier earlier in the day.

Up past West Thurrock where the tugs SD Seahorse and RT Ambition were moored awaiting their next job. The Vopak jetty was busy with the tankers Seamullet and Histria Perla and the smaller CT Cork was at Jurgen’s Jetty. At this point we turned around and made out way back downriver, meeting the ro-ro Ostrand which was in the process of entering Tilbury Lock having arrived from Gothenburg on her regular service.

We then headed downriver, past Gravesend and Denton. At this point the Princess Pocahontas experienced a problem with her engine and after some investigation it was decided that we would have to return to Gravesend as some repairs were necessary. We made it back to Gravesend at reduced speed where, sadly our cruise had to finish. A shame about the engine problem curtailing our cruise, but at least we did get to see some ships before the engine problem occurred. Our thanks to members of the committee for organising the day and to Captain Potter and the crew of the Princess Pocahontas for their hospitality.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.

Monday 13th October to Friday 17th October 2014 - Gibraltar.

This year’s Gibraltar visit followed the familiar and successful format: an early flight from Heathrow on Monday, four nights in the Rock Hotel, daily opportunities for chartered cruises round the Bay and anchorages, with a return on Friday.

The outward BA flight was delayed, which meant Monday afternoon’s cruise had to be postponed until 3.30pm. But it did find the Bay teeming with ships which were inspected, and mostly photographed, although the lighting was, let us say, subdued. The cruise took in the Cernaval Shipyard, where the star attraction was laid-up ferry Ibn Batouta, once St Christopher. The Algeciras quays were examined closely, risking the ire of Spanish patrol craft, followed by a tour of the dozen ships anchored off.

On Tuesday the weather had improved sufficiently that an extended cruise could take in the Eastern Anchorage, which tends to have longer-term residents. Lighting conditions were superb, and our compliant cruise captain ensured that all ten anchored ships were thoroughly photographed.

Wednesday’s weather was dull and not what we expected in the Mediterranean, although improvement was forecast. The day’s cruise began by taking in the Gibraltar dockyard area, which contained more tugs than could ever be needed there. This was also cruise ship day, and photo opportunities extended to the Adventure of the Seas as well as the more aesthetically pleasing Boudicca. Out in the Bay, the lighting improved significantly, allowing replacement of the portraits of some ships which had proved disappointing on Monday. One that got away was Shell’s LNG carrier Al Ghuwairiya, the biggest non-container ship of the week.

Judged by the wealth of good photographic opportunities, Thursday’s cruise was the best of the week, with every ship backed by a clear blue sky. There were even underway photographs possible: one of the ubiquitous bunkering tankers, Vemaoil XX glided past, whilst bulker Fortune Bird weighed anchor, pursued by a clicking TSS crew.

Our accommodation, the Rock Hotel, could not be bettered for its viewpoint, and its balconies meant that each morning a happy hour could be spent ‘scoping the overnight arrivals, and even checking out Algeciras. With its wealth of ships coming in close to bunker, and a similar number visiting Algeciras, Gibraltar is one of Europe’s hottest ship watching spots.


IBN BATOUTA: awaiting the scrap merchant?


UBC OTTAWA was a big attraction in Gibraltar’s Eastern Anchorage.


Reefer PRINCE OF SOUND in the Eastern Anchorage.


ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS berthed at the Gibraltar Mole.


VEMAOIL XX on a bunkering mission.


FORTUNE BIRD ups and leaves the Algeciras anchorage.


MSC ALGHERO bides her time at Algeciras.

Photos and report by Roy Fenton.

Saturday 15th November 2014 - South Coast Ship Show at Portsmouth.

We had a table at the South Coast Ship Show which was held at the Holiday Inn in Portsmouth. Committee members were in attendence from 10:00 to 15:30.

For more information about the Ship Show, visit the MainLine and Maritime Website.



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