Thames Ship Society



             2021 Programme              (Updated 23rd July 2021) 

The provisional programme of events for 2021 is shown below.

Please note that all events in the 2021 programme are subject to change and possible cancellation due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Saturday 22nd May 2021 - AGM and Solent Cruise

TSS members gathered on Town Quay, Southampton, for the AGM Cruise on a mainly cloudy day, but at least it was dry and also the high winds of the previous day had subsided to a light breeze. At midday we boarded our vessel, Blue Funnel’s Ocean Scene for our six hour trip. As we boarded the container ship Independent Vision was arriving for the container terminal. Once we were aboard, we headed out of the harbour, bound for Portsmouth. P&O’s new cruise ship Iona made an impressive sight in Ocean Dock – she had made her maiden arrival in Southampton on 16th May for her christening. The vehicle carrier Apollon Highway was at 39/39 berth in the Eastern Docks, loading vehicles for her next voyage to Baltimore.

There were four tankers at Fawley, including the infamous tanker Sola TS. She was involved in a collision with the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad near the Sture Terminal, Norway, on 8th November 2018, during which the frigate was severely damaged and had to be beached and later capsized and sank. As we passed Calshot and headed for Portsmouth via the North Channel in the Solent, the vehicle carrier Grand Cosmo was inbound for Southampton. During the transit to Portsmouth we had our chicken and chips lunch.

Unfortunately some light rain showers had arrived by the time we got to Portsmouth. Portsmouth harbour was quite busy. The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was in port getting ready for her first deployment to the Far East. She departed later in the evening along with one of her escorts the American destroyer USS The Sullivans. An impressive line up of mostly American F-35 fighters were visible on her deck. Also two Canadian patrol boats were present HMCS Kingston and HMCS Summerside. Another unusual visitor to Portsmouth was the survey vessel HMS Enterprise. She is normally based at Plymouth.

Portsmouth commercial port was also busy with the refrigerated cargo ship Lombok Strait present and the brand new cruise ship Viking Venus at the ferry port loading passengers for a coastal cruise to Liverpool.

We then headed back to Southampton, when the short AGM was held. As we approached Calshot the rather smoky containership Lotus A was outward bound. In Southampton Water we passed the outbound UECC vehicle carrier Autostar leaving for Santander. Another vehicle carrier Hoegh Oslo was at berth 35 in the Eastern Docks and also the Grand Cosmo seen arriving, earlier in the cruise, was at berth 40.

We made our way up to the container terminal where the Independent Vision was the only vessel present, but as we made our way back the containership Voronezh passed us, inbound, to join her. She was arriving from Rotterdam. We then paused for a while waiting for the large bulk carrier Belnor to pass us assisted by the tugs Svitzer Bargate and Svitzer Harty. She was arriving from Gent and was bound for berth 109 in the Western Docks to load a cargo of scrap.

It was now time for our cruise to end, so we headed for Town Quay where we disembarked the Ocean Scene and said our goodbyes. With thanks to the captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well and thanks also to Ian Cochran, Dave Smith and other committee members for organising the thoroughly enjoyable day.


P&O's new cruise ship IONA in Ocean Dock, Southampton.


Vehicle carrier APOLLON HIGHWAY at Southampton.


Tanker SOLA TS at Fawley Oil Terminal.


American destroyer USS THE SULLIVANS at Portsmouth.


HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH in Portsmouth ready for her deployment.


An American F-35 fighter on board HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.


Canadian patrol boats HMCS KINGSTON and HMCS SUMMERSIDE at Portsmouth.


The new cruise ship VIKING VENUS at Portsmouth.


The bulk carrier BELNOR arriving in Southampton.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks


Bulk carrier IKAN LANDUK loading scrap in the Western Docks, Southampton.


Containership ONE GRUS at the container terminal, Southampton.


MICHALIS inward bound in Southampton Harbour.


RFA TIDESURGE in Portsmouth Harbour.


Gas tanker ECO UNIVERSE in St Helens anchorage.


Large containership AL RIFFA outward bound in the Solent, having sailed from Southampton.


The Canadian patrol boat HMCS KINGSTON anchored off Portsmouth.


P&O's cruise ship ARCADIA outward bound in Southampton Water.


.... followed by the NYK Line vehicle carrier TRITON LEADER departing for Bremerhaven.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks

Saturday 26th June 2021 (12:00 departure) - Solent Cruise

Thankfully the unseasonal wet and windy weather abated for the first Solent Cruise of the year. After a sunny morning there was just a little high cloud as we boarded the Solent and Wightline Cruises vessel Ali Cat at Town Quay at midday. Once we were all boarded we started by heading up into the Western Docks at Southampton. There were quite a few vessels present, including the cruise ship MSC Virtuosa, the P&O cruise ship Arcadia and the bulk carrier Ikan Landuk loading a cargo of scrap metal. The container terminal was also well populated with the large ONE containership One Grus, Hapag-Lloyd’s Al Riffa on her first visit to Southampton, and the Rotterdam Star. As we retraced our steps out of the Western Docks, we passed the inbound vehicle carrier Grande Houston arriving from Portbury, closely followed by the bulk carrier Michalis which was, unusually, being assisted by the Portsmouth based SMS Towage tugs Scotsman and Yorkshireman. After that flurry of activity we continued past the vehicle carrier Thalatta in the Eastern Docks, into Southampton Water, bound for Portsmouth.

At Fawley Oil Terminal there were three tankers, the Kirkby, Furevik and Magnus, the latter being originally built for BP as the British Mallard. At Calshot we passed the inbound K Line vehicle carrier Apollon Highway. We then proceeded via the North Channel, across the Solent to Portsmouth. Portsmouth was quite busy with an unusual visitor being the Tide Class fast fleet tanker RFA Tidesurge. A fairly new vessel having entered service in 2019 following construction in South Korea. Also present was the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, plus a few frigates. The commercial port was full with the refrigerated cargo ship Lombok Strait, the cruise ship Viking Venus and the coasters Musketier and Helen Anna. The Brittany Ferries vessel Mont St Michel was at the ferry port.

Now, we proceeded out of Portsmouth harbour for St Helen’s Anchorage, where we photographed the LPG tanker Eco Universe and the Wijnne & Barends coaster Lady Adele under sunny skies. We then waited near the Solent forts for the outward bound containership Al Riffa which had departed Southampton for Suez and also the outbound ferry Mont St Michel bound for Ouistreham. Finally we photographed the Canadian naval patrol boat HMCS Kingston anchored off Spithead.

We then made our way back to Southampton via the main channel through the Solent. At Calshot we caught up with the preserved steamship Shieldhall which was out on a cruise from Southampton. We accompanied her back to Southampton, passing the outbound P&O cruise ship Arcadia heading for the anchorage off Torquay. She was followed by the NYK Line vehicle carrier Triton Leader, bound for Bremerhaven. By this time it was time for our cruise to finish. We arrived back at Town Quay after a very successful cruise.

Our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Ali Cat who looked after us so well. Also thanks go the Neil Richardson for navigating the boat throughout the trip ensuring we were in the right place at the right time to maximise photographic opportunities. Finally thanks also to Dave Smith and Ian Cochran and other committee members for organising the day. We look forward to the next cruise in September.

Saturday 7th August 2021 (12:00 to 17:00) - Summer Social at Dover

Once again we have decided to return to the Dover Marina Hotel located on the seafront at Dover, but this time for a Summer Social.

Please come along and meet old friends, or treat your partner, friends or family to an afternoon in the company of those with similar interests. On a clear day the hotel commands uninterrupted views of the main shipping channel across to the French coast, and nestling under the historic White Cliffs, the hotel fronts onto Dover's regal promenade.

The afternoon's events will include time for a chat with old friends before a three course lunch in the Chartwell Suite, followed by coffee. Bar facilities are available at cost. An after dinner presentation will be given by Richard Kirkman taken from his two books "History of Channel Islands Ferries" and "History of Cruise and Maritime Voyages".

The recent additions to the English Channel ferry route Isle of Inishmore and the new DFDS E-Flexer type ropax Cote d'Opale should be operating on the day. Good photographic opportunities of the ferries and any other shipping in the harbour can be obtained from the new pier.

Bookings being taken.

Wednesday 25th August 2021 - River Orwell Sailing Barge Trip (12:30 to 17:00)

We are planning a 4.5 hour trip on the sailing barge Thistle, embarking at Harwich and covering Ipswich and Felixstowe ports.

The plan is to sail from Harwich Town Quay/Pier at 12.30 pm. The barge will be available from around 12.00. The exact route on the day will depend on the shipping, tides and the weather, plus local Vessel Traffic Control (VTS) and the discretion of the Captain. The cruise will finish at 17:00.

Thistle was built at Rochester in 1895 and traded for many years around the Thames, Essex and Kent coasts, transhipping cargoes from local wharves and jetties to and from ships on the rivers or to and from vessels in the London docks. Thistle has an open deck area, as well an enclosed saloon with toilets and is an excellent platform for photography. The bar/cafe located in the saloon will be open for the purchase of drinks and light refreshments, at cost throughout. However, participants are advised to bring a packed lunch.

Felixstowe is the UK’s largest container port and regularly plays host to the latest generation of Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS), including the 20,000-TEU plus behemoths operated by Maersk, MSC, OOCL and Evergreen. In addition, a wide range of trades are served by smaller containerships and feeder vessels. DFDS also operates a thrice daily service to Rotterdam with the Suecia Seaways, Gardenia Seaways and Tulipa Seaways, one of which should be seen. Felixstowe is also home to a Svitzer tug fleet, which serve the haven ports, plus the occasional small tanker and general cargo ship could be seen alongside.

Harwich is home to Trinity House’s vessels and lightships, several of which may be seen along with the Harwich Lifeboat, pilot boats and wind farm support vessels. Harwich International Port is the UK base for the Stena line services to and from the Hoek van Holland and Rotterdam and the Repsol tank terminal, which serves small products tankers. In addition, occasional visits are made by bulk and general cargo vessels, loading anything from grain to second hand vehicles.

Ipswich is now a major bulk handling port, exporting grain and other agricultural products. Imports include fertiliser, timber and building products. Over 1 mill tonnes of cargo was handled last year. Vessels calling at Ipswich are mainly in the 2,000 to 7,000 gt range, trading around Europe, the Baltic and into the Mediterranean. For example, ships operated by Arklow, Wilson Lines, RMS and other European operators are often seen alongside the riverside quays.

This trip is fully booked.

Photos from our July 2019 Solent Cruise.


THE WORLD anchored in the Solent off Cowes.


HAMBURG BRIDGE in the Solent bound for Southampton.


The ro-ro ARROW in St. Helens anchorage.




P&O's ARCADIA departing from Southampton.

Photos by Chris Brooks.

Saturday 11th September 2021 (12:00 departure) - Solent Cruise

This trip will have something for everyone with the prospect of seeing almost all types of ships ranging from the largest container vessels, down to tugs and coasters as well as warships. Bring your partner, even if they are not particularly interested in ships, as this is a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon. This trip will depart from Town Quay in Southampton, on board Solent and Wightline Cruises vessel Ali Cat. This cruise will cover Southampton, Portsmouth and the Solent, including St. Helen's Anchorage (weather and tides permitting). The trip will last for six hours.

Ali Cat has an open deck area as well as large enclosed saloon with toilets, and is an excellent platform for photography. The bar will be open for the purchase of drinks and light refreshments at cost. The cruise will cover Southampton Docks, Fawley and Hamble, Portsmouth Harbour, St Helen's Anchorage and the Solent and will provide the opportunity to see all types of vessels from the largest container ships and cruise ships in Southampton, a variety of tankers at Fawley and Hamble, Naval vessels and ferries at Portsmouth and any vessels anchored in St. Helen's anchorage. The rotation will depend upon the tides and weather on the day, the discretion of the Captain and Port Control instructions.

Bookings being taken.

Saturday 20th November 2021 - Ocean Liner Society Ship Show

The TSS will have a table at the Ocean Liner Society Ship Show (10:00 to 16:00)

The show will be held at the same venue : Southampton Masonic Hall at the City Centre location of Albion Place SO14 2DD.

TSS Committee members will be on hand to answer questions, so come along and have a chat with us.



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