BRANCH REPORTS 2003

 

January 2003

A very cold night with a threat of snow, resulted in a lower than usual turn out for our meeting on Monday 6th. All who attended our two part “homespun” event however had a varied and interesting evening. During the first half of the evening Tony Hogwood presented the concluding part of his “European Waters” show that he started last month. This month the majority of slides were taken at Terneuzen on the Scheldt estuary. At this point ships pass close to the shore on their way to Antwerp and Ghent. In 2001 the port of Antwerp was reported to be the second largest European port, handling some 130 million tonnes of cargo and being served by 15,885 seagoing vessels. Tony was able to show many ships reflecting the diversity of cargoes handled in the area. We hope that he will be visiting again this year, if only to give us another splendid show.

By contrast, Ray Smith visited Turkey last year with the Thames Ship Society and presented the second half of the evening. Rays slides were taken on a visit to Tuzla on the Sea of Marmora, about an hour and a half’s ferry trip from Istanbul. The whole area concentrates on shipbuilding and repair with about 30 independent shipyards. Ships are moored in small trots awaiting repair or completion, sitting high in floating docks or on the shore side slipways. About as many ships per square kilometre as you could find anywhere in the world. Ray’s slides showed us a varied selection of ships from tugs to tankers and bulk carriers to coasters and were of all ages dating from the Albatross of 1878. Some northern waters favourites were also seen under new colours most notably the “Saga” and the “Duke of Holland 2”. Our thanks to Tony and Ray for an excellent evening.

 

February 2003

The February meeting at Mid-Essex is traditionally the annual slide competition for the Colin Viney Trophy. The number competing was a little down on past years but the quality was up to its usual standard. The entrants were Tony Hogwood, Ken Bottoms, David Brown, Ian Wells and Ray Smith.

Thirty views of a very diverse selection of ship types taken in various parts of the world kept us occupied for most of the evening. With some changes to the score sheet this year and a little mental arithmetic by each of the audience we managed to reach a verdict on the night. This year’s holder of the Colin Viney Trophy is Tony Hogwood. Six of the slides from the evening will be entered into the Douglas Ridley Chesterton Slide Competition.

 

March 2003

Ian Wells presented his Tilbury slide show “Winter 82/83” at our meeting on 3rd March. This was the period when Tilbury had the “Chinese Berths” and was importing large quantities of cheap goods from the Far East. Many of the ships on this service traded for a long time but just seemed to fade away and disappear from the registers with no definite report of demolition. We were also reminded of many old “friends” who used to call regularly or were laid up. We were reminded of a branch visit to “Act 3”, one of the first large purpose built container ships serving Australasia, Also shown were vessels of the Russian “Balt-Orient Line”, the “River Niger”, “Africa Palm”, “Lagos Palm”, and “Irish Pine” the subject of another branch visit. Surprisingly the bulk carrier “Bruni”, first ship to load scrap metal from Tilbury, was found to be still trading. At that time the dry dock was still operational and lighters were still to be seen alongside ships to off load cargo. Our thanks to Ian for a nostalgic evening for all those who remember Tilbury and the Thames twenty years ago and for proof that exceptional pictures can be taken during the winter, with frost and lingering mist all adding to the atmosphere.

 

April 2003

Ray Palmer visited from Southend Branch and gave us a slide show entitled ”A Ships Miscellany and a Voyage on the Stephan Batory”

The Miscellany certainly lived up to its name, opening on a personal note with ships that Ray had sailed on starting with Medway Queen from Southend, through ferries arround the British coast, to troop ships during World War II and on to post war cruise ships.

Along the way we were shown many a passenger ship from the past hundred years. These were taken from Ray’s own photographic collection or were slides of postcards, many with a story to tell. Plenty of pictures of favourite transatlantic ocean liners from Britain, France, Holland and America were shown, followed by liners serving South America, Africa and Australasia, all but a very few, long gone to the breakers yard.

After the break Ray showed slides from a cruise that he took on Stephan Batory in 1981. Stephan Batory originally Maasdam of Holland America Line was built in 1952 and passed into Polish Ocean Lines hands in 1968. She sailed for POL until 1988 and was scrapped in 2000. The voyage was from Tilbury to Montreal and Quebec. A lot of interior shots showing the cabins and public areas of the ship were strangely empty, but when we saw pictures taken on deck the answer lay in the rather heavy weather. Ray reported a very happy ship with good facilities and food. Thank you Ray for sharing your show with us.

 

May 2003

Being a Bank Holiday, on which a couple of our meetings during the year can fall, we organised a slide show from the branch membership. Tony Hogwood volunteered to show us slides of his trip to the continent taken only a couple of weeks before.

Normally Tony travels on the ferry to Dunkerque but this route was fully booked so it was Dover to Calais on the Hoverspeed Sea Cat. This did however give an opportunity to check out the ships in Calais. Dunkerque and other vantage points up the coast were visited with many shots taken from Tony’s favourite spot at Terneuzen close to the locks for the Ghent Canal. The ships seen from this vantage point are very varied and come in close to shore enabling good shots without requiring a very long lens. Many slides were also taken of ships in Antwerp on a boat trip around the docks. Several interesting shots were shown of the experimental carousel tug Multratug12 that operates in the area.

All too soon Tony’s trip was at an end, returning to Dover on Hoverspeed Great Britain, the controversial current holder of the Blue Riband of the Atlantic.

Our thanks to Tony for a fine collection of slides and for preparing a well researched commentary in such a short time.

 

June 2003

Our meeting on the 1st June featured the slides of Steve Spouse from Plumstead. These were a diverse collection of Shipping on the Thames during the last century. Some were slides of black and white photos from private collections, some from prints rescued literally from the dustbin and some were from a colleague in the Great Lakes area of Canada. The balance was from the collection of Steve and his brother, which they started in the early nineteen sixties. Whilst the range of shipping shown was extensive Steve does have a leaning towards tugs, with shots of them in all situations from London down to Gravesend. Many photos were from times when wharves, mills and docks lined the river and Tilbury was in relative open countryside. Slides of the last tall ships race to visit London and pictures of notable visitors to the Thames came thick and fast. Pictures of ships in the London dock systems, Surrey Commercial, the Royals and the West India brought on pangs of nostalgia. Most of these are now areas of office and housing development. The Canadian connection followed the ex London tug Avenger which left the Thames in the mid eighties. It followed the tug’s early days in the Lakes and the necessary modifications made to her. A collection of prominent “Lakers” was also shown, a lot of which must by now have gone for scrap. Steve’s evening ended with an outstanding collection of slides of ships in the Thames at night.

Thank you Steve for coming across the water to entertain and inform us with a remarkable and unique collection of slides recording the social and economic history of the Thames over the past hundred years.

 

July 2003

We were pleased to welcome Ken Larwood from Kent to our meeting on the 7th July. This was Ken’s second visit to the branch, the last being in 1993. Ken has compiled several slide shows from the many slides that he has taken over the years. We were delighted with the show that he presented, entitled “Ferry Nostalgia”. This is a pictorial history of the many ferries that have served the UK over the past thirty years.

Whilst understandably a large proportion of the ferries shown were taken around the south east coast of England, there was a good selection from other ferry ports of the UK. Ferries serving the Channel Islands, the Scilly Isles, Ireland, the Isle of Man, services in Scotland and the east coast of England, There were also a few taken of services on the continent.

During the last thirty years there have been more than a few name changes, mergers and working agreements, which has given, Ken a good excuse (if one were needed) to go and photograph ships in their new names, colours and liveries. Many a ship was shown with British Rail’s opposing arrow (or barbed wire) emblem and then with the “galloping maggot” of Sealink. The show is accompanied by a very comprehensive history of each ship and her subsequent names and fate. This gives an invaluable record of ferry trends; from the Paddle steamer “Ryde” to the fast catamarans on the Portsmouth Isle of Wight run, and the “Lord Warden” to the “Hoverspeed Great Britain” on the Dover service. Thank you Ken for coming to present your excellent show. We hope it will not be another ten years before you come and see us again!

 

August 2003

The August meeting, held on a hot summer evening, was well attended. Derek Sands showed us a fine selection of slides, selected from the thousands that he has taken over the years, that charted the history of Felixstowe docks.

Felixstowe originally had a small wet dock, which handled a variety of goods from liquids to timber. The last thirty years has seen a dramatic expansion and subsequent increase in trade such that it is now one of the largest ports in the country. The port is still expanding and the new Trinity Terminal extension will give the port a further 270 metres of deep-water berth. The docks currently have nine container vessel berths, a dedicated Ro Ro terminal, a bulk liquids terminal and a ferry terminal. Felixstowe services over 365 ports around the globe. The Port can handle the latest class of Maersk ships (Cornelia Maersk ) of 92,000 g.r.t. and will be handling the new Maersk class which are over 93,000 g.r.t. (Anna Maersk).

Derek works at one of the two rail terminals within the docks and many a photo was an early morning or an evening shot just prior or just after finishing a shift. The series of slides was a visual representation of the shipping lines that are, or have used the port over the years. Vessels of the United States Lines and the US Military Sea Lift Command, ships from Maersk Line, Fred Olsen, Evergreen, Delmas, Hanjin, Neptune Orient, MSL China Ship[ping Line, COSCO, P&O NedLloyd, Finnlines Norfolk Line and the occasional Lloyd Trestino. Containers were initially carried as deck cargo, then by converted tankers and bulk carriers, and it was interesting to note that dedicated box boats have only been with us for 25 years or so.

Derek reports that the port eventually intends to fill in the small wet dock that remains as a reminder of its small beginnings.

Thank you Derek for travelling to our meeting on such a warm night, it was a very memorable evening and we hope that you will be coming to show us some more slides again soon.

 

September 2003

The well-attended September meeting featured an illustrated talk by Peter Ives ably assisted on the projector by his wife Christine. Peter and Christine have been visiting us annually for some years now and we were very pleased to see them again. This year featured ships and ports of western Australia.

The “tour” started at it’s most northerly point at Port Headland. The temperatures were 35º- 40º. Port Hedland has grown into a large port handling bulk cargos of iron ore, salt and other ores. The ores are mined some way inland and are brought to the coast by railway train or land train. The goods train is some 7 Km long employing six locomotives to haul it. The land train is a (very) large tipper type lorry with two trailers of similar size. It is not advisable to get in their way on the highway. Salt is produced in a ten-week cycles form evaporating vast lagoons of seawater. Peter showed us a selection of ships using the port from his own collection and from local postcards.

Further south is the port of Dampier where there are also exports of salt and ores as well as liquefied gas from the vast offshore oil and gas fields. It was good to see the BP tanker “British Trader” at the Woodside oil terminal. Here there is a new memorial to HMAS Sydney. Peter’s journey then took us further south into a more temperate climate and a visit was made to Geraldton. This is a new port being constructed to handle the vast inland resources of mineral ores wheat, and talcum. Then to the south of Perth we visited Bunbury that is exporting Bauxite, Alumina, mineral sand and vegetable oil. Peter then took us to the most southwesterly point of Australia, Cape Leeuwin where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet. Nearby Albany was disappointing in that there were few ships to see and photograph. Here there is an Anzac memorial for the Galipoli campaign and a Whaling museum. Whaling finished here in the 1970s

This concluded Peter’s very informative and often amusing talk. We look forward to next year when we hope Peter and Christine will be able to come and entertain us again.

 

LSMQ Report

This was hosted by Mid-Essex Branch at their Ingatestone meeting place and the questions were set by last years winners, Haven Ports Branch. Seven branches competed for the trophy. It turned out to be a most entertaining afternoon with questions of a high standard. In the final were Mid-Essex, North Surrey, Southend and Thames Valley branches. A nail biting finish saw Mid-Essex and North Surrey fighting it out point by point, Mid-Essex just emerging as winners. Southend took third place.

 

 

Left to right:, Mid-Essex team members Ian Wells, Tony Hogwood, Michael Vincent and Andrew Smith

with Mid-Essex Chairman David Brown presenting the cup.

 

October 2003

Mike Jackson from Dover gave us a fascinating presentation at the meeting held on the 6th October. Mike was a sea going radio officer between 1961 and 1998 and although he claims not to have taken ship photos seriously until after 1980 certainly entertained us with a large selection of slides taken whilst serving on tankers during the period 1961 to 1978.

The evening started with Shell aboard the tanker “Haustellum” a traditional post war centre island tanker. There then followed a virtual world tour on the 18 different tankers owned by 6 different companies with which Mike served.These journeys took in the Panama Canal, the Cape Verde Islands, the Suez Canal, Naples, Grangemouth, Curacao, Santos, Indonesia, India, Australia, and more than one trip to Vietnam whilst the war was still raging. The first of these was most spectacular when a limpet mine was attached to the hull of Shell’s “Amastra” whilst discharging her cargo in Nha Trang Harbour. This blew a hole in the side of the ship by the engine room, causing the ship to rest on the bottom by the stern. After the fitting of patches by USS Current and lightening by Shell’s “Kara” she was refloated and subsequently sent for repair.

The Americans were using ships from their reserve fleet, and there were some good photos including Victory’s and T2 tankers being used as floating power stations.

Mike then moved on to super tankers and joined the “Marticia” whilst building.Tankers of this size used the Cape passage and were often supplied by helicopter as they passed Cape Town. They also required lightening before they could enter a European port. Mike soon tired of the lifestyle aboard such a large vessel on a repetitive run and moved to smaller oil tankers, and then to chemical and specialty tankers.

Mike also showed some slides of Common Brothers “Langley” at Kaohsung being broken up. The ships here were driven up onto the beach stern first.

Mike finished his days on tankers on the “Athelmonarch” with a passage from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the New York area.

Everyone present thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and we thank Mike for making the journey from Dover. We were pleased to hear that he has other slide shows, so we hope that he will come and see us again in the not too distant future.

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs:

Top: Shell Tanker AMASTRA on the sea bed in Nha Trang Harbour.

Middle: AMASTRA awash astern being lightened by the Shell tanker KARA

Bottom: USS CURRENT "plugging the hole" whilst lightening by KARA continues.

Copyright © Mike Jackson

 

 

Supplimentary Information:

Name Company Built Tonnage
Haustellum Shell 1954 12,122 grt
Amastra Shell 1958 12,273 grt
Kara Shell 1955 12,146 grt
USS Current ARS-22 USN 1943
Marticia Shell 1970 209,400 dwt
Langley Common Brothers
Athelmonarch Athel Line 1950 11,182 grt

 

November 2003

At the branch AGM, held at our November meeting, the committee of chairman, David Brown; secretary and treasurer, Ian Wells; vice chairman, Roy Leach and committee members, Robin Butcher, Brian Fairbrass, Neil Davidson and Ray Smith, was voted en bloc to serve for a further year.

As always we try not to let the AGM take over the whole evening and asked Branch members who work or have worked in the shipping business to give us a short talk on their work and experiences.

Paul Mason, coming from a long line of seafarers, almost inevitably started his working life at sea, first with Shell and then Texaco. Life on super-tankers was however not entirely to his liking and he took a job ashore as a shipbroker. Paul was mainly concerned with tanker chartering and often visited far-flung parts of the world to view his prospective charters. Since 1998, with only a brief spell working for a Turkish broker, Paul has moved in a different direction in the shipping world. He is now chairman of the Thames Ship Club and organises ship-viewing trips around the world. He also runs the TSS website as well as one of his own He writes a regular “Shipping Market Report” and has recently completed a book on Flags and Funnels.

Robin Butcher, a shipping banker, then gave us an insight into ship finance. Whilst working at the Paddington branch of Nat West bank in 1978 he was transferred into the “Shipping Section”. After six months he was seconded to the Bank of England to look into another shipping finance company that had “got into difficulties”. Robin told us of some hair-raising stories of ship visits where the state of the ship, the crews living conditions, and of many things that “Health and Safety” would not tolerate today. In his time at the Nat West, the bank became Britain’s largest ship owner, financing “handy size” bulk carriers and 1st generation container ships. Robin finished his time in shipping finance with a three-year spell in Hong Kong, returning in to the UK in 1986. London however is still the shipping finance centre of the world. “Lending money to buy ships is easy”, Robin reports, “The difficult bit is getting it back”.

Michael Vincent was brought up in the Ipswich area and from an early age visited the town’s docks and gained an affinity for ships and the sea. In 1961 he became an accounts clerk for P&O looking after the pay for crews in the Nourse and Asiatic Steamship companies. The pay then was not through a bank account, but in cash on the gangplank at the end of a voyage, so Michael spent a lot of time travelling to various ports with the crew’s wages “in his pocket”. In 1967 he successfully completed a “Shipping Course” through which he met contacts in the ship-brokering world, one of whom offered him a job. This started a long spell with various ship-brokering companies, mainly with Greek connections. Some were large, with offices in the fashionable Docklands, another a small three-man business. One of his jobs was selling arrested ships for the Admiralty Marshall. Michael now works from home buying and selling mainly tugs, barges and dredgers, to clients worldwide.

Our final item of the evening was a short slide show given by Roy Leach showing his recent cruise on the Black Watch. This featured many ships seen in the Adriatic and Venice, and then in the Mediterranean. As always there were a few old forgotten ferry favourites under new colours still trading. Thanks to Roy for his accomplished commentary and ship research, and thanks to Paul, Robin and Michael for sharing their life with us all.

 

December 2003

At our December meeting, branch member Ray Smith gave us a trip down the Saigon River from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The slides were taken whilst on a Thames Ship Society visit to the Far East. The first images are of a very busy port with underdeveloped port side facilities. Ships cranes and derricks unload the vast majority of cargo either onto the quayside or into lighters. The ships are mainly bulkers or general cargo. The majority of larger ships were traceable and there was often a comment “I’ve seen her in Tilbury as …..!”, coming forward from the audience. The majority of smaller craft were not traceable through conventional registers, especially if locally built. It was rather strange to see the cruise ship Europa sandwiched between two general cargo ships at the dockside, no dedicated cruise terminal here yet!

Up river was a small naval base, which had a strange mix of ex American and ex Russian ships. There was also a large contingent of American ex Army tugs. Whilst moving further upstream there was some excitement when the Bugsier tug “Titan” was seen, still looking in very good condition. She had apparently disappeared from the registers some time ago.

Further down stream there are many river berths with cargo being discharged into lighters from both sides of the ship. One of these was the "Thai Binh" (8,414 grt), which was a novelty in the fact that since building at Austin Pickersgill in 1980 she has never changed name. Another novelty was probably the smallest container feeder of all time, with a capacity of certainly no more than three containers!

Further downstream is a small container berth complete with cranes, and a small gas terminal. There are also many small shipyards in the area, including floating docks, that build ships and service and maintain them. Shipbuilding however did seem a little laid back and slow. A veritable fleet of hydrofoil passenger boats, all ex Russian, service the area and travel at 30 knots through the most congested of shipping lanes.

This was just one small part of the Asia trip and we look forward to further in the series from Ray in due course. Thanks to Ray for his excellent photography and research, and sharing such an interesting part of the world’s shipping with us