Branch Reports 2002


June 2002

Our June meeting was as usual scheduled for the first Monday of the month, and although coinciding with the Jubilee celebrations attracted a dozen or so members to hear Bill Mayes excellent commentary to his very comprehensive set of slides depicting over 100 years of Italian liners. A surprising number of familiar ships were shown that started life under different flags and names but were refitted so completely as to be almost unrecognisable. This included the Stockholm that was involved in the loss of the Andrea Doria and eventually came under Italian ownership in the early nineteen nineties. Thank you Bill for taking time on a Bank Holiday to give us a very entertaining evening.


July 2002

At the July meeting we welcomed branch member Andrew Smith to present an illustrated talk on Operation Pedestal. This was the heavily escorted Mediterranean convoy assembled and sent to re-supply Malta in August 1942, and was the subject of the film “Malta Convoy” featuring the tanker Ohio.

The basis of the talk was Andrew’s lecture to the WSS Annual Naval Meeting at Bristol in June. Andrew is an authority on the Italian Navy and was in a position to ably comment from both sides of the conflict. Attacks on the convoy came from the air, submarine and torpedo- boat, but by some clever subterfuge on behalf of the Malta air squadrons, not to mention some Axis incompetence, the Italian cruiser fleet was not brought in to play. Thanks to Andrew for his meticulous attention to detail and to a varied selection of diagrams and photographs, the latter giving the capacity audience an impromptu identification quiz.


August 2002

We welcomed Alan Chapman, Secretary of the North West Kent branch, to give his side talk, or to be more accurate, his computer aided projector talk on the rise and fall of the Hellenic Line. This is the first time that the show had been presented and we were treading new ground with this technique of producing a “slide” show.

Hellenic Line ships were no strangers to us, as they used to run regular services from London and the Thames. Alan has chronicled the line’s fifty-year history from his thorough researches and from a varied selection of projected photographs. All but a few photographs of the ships owned by the company had been tracked down from a range of sources. The evening was completed with the showing of some of the ships chartered by the line during its years of operation. Thank you Alan for crossing the “water” and sharing your show with us, and we wish you good luck with the subsequent book.


September 2002

Peter Ives and his “wife to be” Christine brought along their latest slide talk to entertain us at our September meeting. Peter has visited us on a regular basis for the past few years now giving us very diverse programmes of ships shipping lines and ports.

This year we saw the fruits of his recent trip to Sarawak. Not the regular Far East ship-spotting destination you might think, but this country, sharing Borneo Island, literally teems with shipping large and small. The basis of the show was a voyage up the Rejang River to Sibu. Not every vessel was traceable in Lloyd’s, but this added to the appeal. Miles of the riverbanks are taken up with forestry and sawmills. Fishing is a big industry and shipbuilding and ship breaking yards are numerous. Peter’s great enthusiasm for his subject is very infectious and we look forward to a return visit.


October 2002

A slide talk was given by John Harrison, chairman of London branch and also a Mid –Essex branch member at our October meeting. This featured ore carriers of the British Iron and Steel Corporation and its various successors. John has been working on this project for some years as time has allowed but it is now nearing its conclusion. Traditionally, ore had been imported in standard freighters, but in the early 1950’s, ships to a revolutionary new British design were used to bring iron ore to the UK. There were three main classes depending on the navigational restrictions of their intended destinations. The larger ships had engines and bridge aft and the smaller type had engines aft with bridge amidships. These were the forerunner of today’s bulk ore carrier. John described the features of these ships and their subsequent fates. These ships were owned by various consortia and chartered to BISCO, generally for ten or fifteen years. Many went on to further trade as bulk carriers under different names and nationalities with the majority lasting well into the 1980s. A few were converted for other use such as oil drilling ships, diving support vessels, chemical tankers and pipe-laying vessels. One of these pipe-laying conversions was scrapped as recently as 2001, close to fifty years old. Thank you, John, for sharing the fruits of your meticulous research.


November 2002

Jimmy Poole, World Ship Society General Secretary, made his long awaited visit to show us slides of a cruise he took in 2000 on board the Aegean Spirit. She was originally the Provence of 1950 of 16,495 gross. At that time, Jimmy reported, the food was good; she was clean and tidy, and although the décor appeared a little dated she was comfortable. She was to be impounded at Dover in 2001 by Health and Safety inspectors under the name of Ocean Glory, and went to scrap the following year.

The cruise started in the Mediterranean with visits to Tartus in Syria, Beirut in the Lebanon, and Haifa in Israel, before transiting the Suez Canal and visiting Egypt and Aqabar in Jordan. There were a huge variety of ships to please everyone with vessels large and small, young and old, some dating back to the fifties and one on its delivery voyage. The near capacity audience identified some of the older vessels as visitors to the Thames under previous names and put a class, if not a name to some of the naval ships that were encountered. In a slight departure from Jimmy’s normal shows, this contained probably more livestock carriers than ferries! Thanks to Jimmy for coming to entertain us with his great show and lively and amusing commentary.


December 2002

The meeting in December started with the branch AGM where the present committee consisting 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 a further year.

Once the formalities of the evening were completed Mid-Essex branch member, Tony Hogwood gave us an interesting and informative talk, illustrated by some superb slides, on visits made this year to the coasts and waterways of Europe. First port of call was Newcastle where he joined the 20,804 grt Jupiter of Fjordlines on a return voyage to the Norwegian west coast. Ports of call were at Stavanger, Haugesund and Bergen. A wide variety of ships were shown of all ages and pedigrees, with one vessel well over 100 years old. This area of Norway seems to specialise in the service and repair of many of the vessels involved in the offshore oil industry. Also shown were the ubiquitous ferries, from the standard double ended to the new “fast ferry”, that link islands and the mainland. Tony also showed us examples of the many ships seen on his visits to Antwerp, Rotterdam, and the Ghent canal. Unfortunately time overtook us and we had to curtail Tony’s programme, but we will look forward to next month when he will be back to complete the show.