Thames Ship Society



             2021 Review              (Updated 22nd September 2021) 

The review of our 2021 programme of events is shown below.

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

In a change to the usual Dover January social gathering, partly due to the pandemic, we decided to arrange a Summer Social at Dover.

Some 23 members met at the Dover Marina Hotel on Saturday 7th August this year for our regular get together in rather wintry weather of high winds and showers.

There were plenty of ferry movements in and out of port, including DFDS’s new E-Flexer type ropax Cote d’Opale and Irish Ferries’ Isle of Inishmore. Some participants took the opportunity to walk along the pedestrian pier next to the new multi-purpose general cargo berths, which are now operational. The coaster Huntertal was alongside and she sailed later that night for Gijon.

Alongside the Cruise Terminal at the Western arm was Fred.Olsen’s newly acquired cruise ship Bolette, which was working up before starting her inaugural cruise. In addition, anchored in the harbour was the French 2020-built tug, TSM Ouessant, which had arrived from Ostend.

Despite the change of date, the day took on its usual format of pre-lunch drinks, teas and/or coffees and a chat, before sitting down in the Chartwell Suite for lunch, which was up to its normal very high standard.

Due to social distancing being in place, we were placed on six tables of four people each. However, this didn’t detract from the general buzz of conversation over lunch.

After lunch, the tables and chairs were re-arranged to enable a presentation to be given by Richard Kirkman, a former colleague of Peter Willey and Sealink Freight Manager, taken from his books on the history of CMV and ‘By Sea to the Channel Islands’ - a history of freight and passenger ferries to and from the UK.

His book on CMV, written together with Richard Bairstow, was entitled ‘CMV- Celebrating the First Decade’. It was published in 2019, just before the company’s sad demise last year. However, he updated us on the fate of the cruise ships and explained how the former managers were able to start up again with Ambassador Cruises.

Much of the Channel Island ferries’ presentation was taken up by an insight into Sealink’s takeover by Sea Containers in the 1980s, which the writer of this review was involved with on the fringes by being employed by Jim Sherwood’s Sea Containers at the time.

Our thanks must go to Stephen Marginson for organising the day and Peter Willey and Richard Kirkman for an informative presentation, and to the staff of the Dover Marina Hotel who looked after us very well once again.

We are hoping to organise a Spring Social in March of next year. Members will be informed as soon as the details have been ironed out via a circular due to be issued later this year.


DFDS ferry Cote D'Opale arriving at Dover.


Tug TSM Ouessant at Dover.


TSS members at lunch...






Photos by Roger Hammond and Dave Smith. Report by Ian Cochran


Our boat for the trip - the 1895 built sailing barge THISTLE.


The BREB STAR departing from Harwich as we waited to board our vessel.


MSC MARIA SAVERIA at Felixstowe as we made out way up the River Orwell.


ARKLOW ACE at Ipswich.


The EASTERN VANQUISH was also at Ipswich.


YM EVEREST getting raeady to sail from Ipswich.


MAERSK KLEVEN at Felixstowe.


GERHARD SCHULTE was also at Felixstowe.


SUECIA SEAWAYS at Felixstowe on the Rotterdam service.


TSS members on the deck of the Thistle (Photo by Ian Cochran).

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

It was a bright day with sunny intervals as 47 TSS members gathered on Halfpenny Pier, Harwich, to board the sailing barge Thistle for our cruise covering Ipswich and Felixstowe. As we waited the Brointermed general cargo ship Breb Star departed from Harwich bound for La Spezia. She was assisted from her berth by the local tug Gray Test.

By the time the Breb Star had departed, It was time to board our vessel for the day, the Thistle. She was built in 1895 at Port Glasgow and is the oldest surviving iron hulled sailing barge still sailing. From 1940 she was trading for the London and Rochester Trading Company. She continued trading until 1972 and then passed through several owners until she was restored in Greenwich in 1987. She is a fine vessel with plenty of open deck space and ideal for a TSS cruise. We set off and headed for the River Orwell up to Ipswich. On the way we passed the large containership MSC Maria Saveria at the Trinity Container Terminal, Felixstowe. We were fortunate to photograph her on the way up the river as she had departed for Rotterdam by the time we returned from Ipswich.

At Ipswich there were five cargo ships berthed at the docks. Vessels of the Arklow Shipping fleet were well represented with the Arklow Ace being the first observed. She is a new vessel completed in 2020 and had previously arrived from Belfast. Just upriver from Arklow Ace was her fleetmate Arklow Faith. She had previously arrived from Bilbao. Next we passed the largest ship of the five, the Maltese flagged YM Everest operating for Yilmar Lojistik, Istanbul. She was making final preparations to depart for La Pallice. Upriver of the YM Everest was the British flagged coaster Eastern Vanquish. The final vessel was the Madeira flagged Manisa Sole which had arrived from Antwerp earlier in the day and was shrouded in dust from the grain being loaded into her holds.

We then made our way back down the River Orwell, bound for Felixstowe, completing part of the journey with our engine turned off and under sail. The tug Gray Test passed us on her way back to Ipswich. At Felixstowe the first vessel photographed was the Maersk Line vessel Maersk Kleven which had arrived earlier in the day from Nemrut, Turkey. She was built in 1996 as the Kate Maersk. Next in the line up of container ships was the Bernhard Schulte vessel Gerhard Schulte, which was very lightly loaded. The small feeder containership ElbBLUE was next to be photographed. She had recently been renamed from Wes Amelie and has been converted to run on LNG fuel. The usual DFDS Ro-Ro vessel Suecia Seaways was next in line having arrived on her regular daily service from Rotterdam. Finally at the new deep water berths, the last ship to be observed was the MSC Emanuela which had arrived earlier in the day from Colombo and was being worked by seven container cranes.

Sadly our time sailing on the Thistle was all too quickly over. We made our way back to Halfpenny Pier where our trip came to an end. A very enjoyable afternoon and our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Thistle for looking after us so well and also to the members of the TSS committee for organising a new and fascinating experience.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks

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

The final Solent Cruise of 2021 took place on 11th September with 45 participants boarding the Solent and Wightline Cruises vessel Ali Cat at Town Quay, Southampton, at noon. In order to make the most of the shipping movements we decided to head towards St. Helen’s Anchorage and Portsmouth first. The weather was a typical summer day – periods of cloud and sunshine.

As we headed out of Southampton Harbour we passed the inward bound containership YM Fountain. She was arriving from Singapore. Passing Fawley Oil Terminal, the tankers Coral Sideria, Searay and Baltic Mariner I were present. We proceeded towards St. Helen’s Anchorage, via the North Channel in the Solent, passing the bunkering tanker Jaynee W and the dredger Sospan Dau which was bound for Fawley Power Station jetty. We then passed the Southampton bound bulk carrier SSI Invincible II which was arriving from Port Talbot to load a cargo of scrap metal. In St. Helen’s Anchorage there were three vessels, the tankers Epic St. George and the Mona Swan, as well as the ro-ro vessel Arrow which was ready to provide cover for the Portsmouth to Channel Islands service when the regular vessel was away in Falmouth dry dock.

Having covered the anchorage we then headed for Portsmouth. In Portsmouth, the type 45 destroyer HMS Daring was waiting to be towed to Birkenhead for her engine replacement. Two other type 45s were also present HMS Duncan and HMS Dragon. In the commercial port, the refrigerated cargo ship Comoros Stream was working cargo. She had had her Seatrade funnel colours painted out and later in the day sailed for the Nab Anchorage, where, a few days later, she became the Ceres Two, having been sold to new owners. Also in the commercial port was the wind turbine blade carrier Bravewind and the cargo ship Musketier which operates the regular cargo service to the Channel Islands.

We then headed back to Southampton. On our way back we passed the outbound UECC vehicle carrier Autostar, heading for Santander. In Southampton Harbour, the cruise ship Seven Seas Splendor was in the Eastern Docks at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal, with P&O’s Iona in Ocean Dock. The vehicle carriers Freedom and Morning Pilot were also in the Eastern Docks. In the Western Docks and in some nice late afternoon sunshine were the cruise ships Celebrity Silhouette and MSC Virtuosa as well as the bulk carrier seen earlier SSI Invincible II. At the container terminal the Hapag Lloyd vessel Al Nefud was present as well as the YM Fountain seen arriving earlier in the cruise.

We then made our way back to Town Quay, passing the preserved steamship Shieldhall which had been on a trip into the Solent, before we berthed at Town Quay. Our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Ali Cat for looking after us so well and to Neil Richardson for navigating the boat in order to make the most of the photographic opportunities. Thanks also to Ian Cochran and Dave Smith for organising the last trip of 2021. We look forward to similar trips next year.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks.


Dredger SOSPAN DAU inward bound in the Solent.


Bulk carrier SSI INVINCIBLE II passed us bound for Southampton.


EPIC ST. GEORGE in St. Helens Anchorage.


HMS DARING in Portsmouth ready for her tow to Birkenhead.


MUSKETIER in Portsmouth commercial port.


AUTOSTAR outward bound in Southampton Water.


CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE in the Western Docks, Southampton...


... as was the MSC VIRTUOSA.


YM FOUNTAIN in the container terminal.


The preserved steamship SHIELDHALL in Southampton Harbour.

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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