MEETING REPORTS 2004

 

January 2004

 

Our programme for our January meeting, is usually “home grown” due to attendance and guest travel difficulties due to possible bad weather and the closeness to the Christmas and New Year holiday period. However we need not have worried, eighteen members were present for our first meeting of the new year. The programme was advertised as slides from Tony Hogwood and Ian Wells, but in the event Roy Kittle and David Berg had brought along a selection of their slides, which easily filled the evenings programme. Ian will be showing his selection at a future meeting.Tony Hogwood’s first slide was of the bulk carrier Odra at the Tate & Lyle refinery on the Thames. She had mysteriously lost her Polish captain on voyage from Guyana. She spent a week under police investigation in the King George V lock, probably the first ship of this size to have used the Royal Docks for twenty years. The subsequent slides were taken at Terneuzen close to the locks for the Ghent Canal and on a sightseeing cruise in Antwerp docks. By strange coincidence two coasters named Claudia passed each other within minutes at Terneuzen and later in the trip a further Claudia was spotted!Roy Kittle showed a varied selection of ships in the New Waterway during the period 1991 to 1995. Many were taken at Roy’s favourite spot at Rozenburg with some taken at the Hook. It was interesting to note the number of bulk carriers that were either chartered out by, previously owned by, or, (the minority it seemed) owned by Jebsens. David showed us a selection of slides taken at Malta, depicting vessels of all types including bulk carriers, car carriers, tugs and ferries, both Mediterranean and local.Thanks to Tony, Roy and David for excellent slides and well researched commentaries. Roy and David are, recent members to the branch and we look forward seeing further slides from their collections.

 

February 2004

As is now tradition, February’s meeting is devoted to the annual slide competition for the Colin Viney Trophy. Our wining six slides will be entered into the Douglas Ridley Chesterton Slide Competition held in May and attracting entrants from branches in the South East of England area. The number of members competing was up on past years with 8 entrants. The choice however becomes more difficult by the year as the content and quality reaches such a high standard. The entrants were Roy Leach, Ken Bottoms, Tony Hogwood, Ray Smith, David Berg, David Brown, Ian Wells and Roy Kittle. Forty eight views of a very diverse selection of ship types from bulkers to tugs, cruise ships to sailing ships including the first slide of QM2 seen at the branch.The slides were mainly taken in northern European waters and their subsequent details and histories kept us occupied for the rest of the evening.

 

Competition Results

 

 

Position

Entrant  

Score

Set No

1

Ray Smith

311

4 

2 

Roy Kittle 

307 

8  

3  

Tony Hogwood 

306  

3  

4 

Ken Bottoms 

297  

2

5

David Berg

292

5

6

Ian Wells  

286  

7  

7

Roy Leach

264  

1 

8

David Brown

235

6

Individual Slide Results (Top 11)

Position

Set No

Slide No

Score  

Entrant  

1

5 

2

60

David Berg  

1  

8  

1   

60  

Roy Kittle  

3

6

4

57 David Brown

4

8   

3

56

Roy Kittle  

5

2

1  

55  

Ken Bottoms  

5

3

1  

54  

Tony Hogwood  

5

4

1  

54

Ray Smith  

5

4  

2

54

Ray Smith  

5

4

5  

54

Ray Smith 

10

2

5

53

Ken Bottoms  

10

4 4 53 Ray Smith

March 2004

We had a showing of the Swansea & West Wales Branch tape slide show “Swansea and The Ports of West Wales”. We have viewed this before but a long time ago, but it proved to be just as interesting second time around.The ports covered were Port Talbot, Briton Ferry, Swansea, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, and Fishguard. Port Talbot and Swansea both grew out of the industrial revolution and maps and early photographs plotted their rise in importance. Briton Ferry now a small port was once home to Ward’s Shipbreakers, who broke up some notable warships during the last century. Moving round the coast to Milford Haven, which was said by Lord Nelson to be one of the finest harbours in the world. A diverse array of activities have been seen in the haven, with fishing in Milford Dock giving over to more Marina based activities although retaining the ship repair business. Pembroke Dock once a Naval dockyard is now a commercial port handling general cargo and aggregate, together with certain oilrig supply support vessels. The Ro-Ro Terminal provides ferry terminal facilitie and is used by Irish Ferries for their ferry service to Rosslare. The oil terminals and refineries dominate both sides of the haven. The journey ends at Fishguard situated on the north Pembrokeshire coast and has a Ro Ro terminal for Stena Lines ferry service to Rosslare. Although now a little out of date, this tape slide presentation is very interesting and informative guide to the ports on the South West Wales Peninsula.

 

April 2004

Our meeting on the 5th April featured the new tape slide show “Solent to the South Atlantic” which was put together by the WSS Southampton Branch. It was a shame that some of our number were unable to attend due to holidays and other commitments, because this presentation was certainly one of the best tape slide shows we have seen here at Mid Essex..The show retold the story of Ships Taken Up From Trade (STUFT) during the 1982 Falklands Campaign that were based, modified and/or stored in the Solent area. This included Southampton, Marchwood, Portsmouth and Gosport.The narration was by a professional broadcaster and was recorded at the BBC studios in Southampton. This gave the whole show a very professional feel and was augmented by interviews with Captain C.J.C. Clark (OBE) of the Europic Ferry, and Captain P. Jackson of the Queen Elizabeth 2 at various stages through the commentary. Our only small criticism would be the slide change-over signal, seemingly universally annoying on all shows, which on this commentary, seemed to vary in volume, tone and length. The show was a reminder and tribute to all those dockside workers who refitted ships, fitted helicopter pads, and generally structurally modified ships in only a matter of hours. Many of these workers were under threat of redundancy if not having their redundancy notice in their pocket. The show included R.N. vessels and STUFT vessels leaving the Solent ports, voyaging down to Ascension Island, at South Georgia and within the Total Exclusion Zone around the Falkland Islands. Poignant slides of vessels returning to port after the regaining of the Islands completed the show.Congratulations must go to all those at Southampton who put together such an interesting and professional show. This must surely be the benchmark for future shows

 

May 2004

The meeting held on 3rd May was, as is customary with meetings held on a bank holiday a “home grown affair”. Tony Hogwood showed slides of his visit to the continent during the Easter holiday and, after the interval, Ian Wells showed slides of Tilbury Docks in 1983.Tony took the Dover - Dunkirk route to the continent courtesy of Norfolk Line, and started taking photos as soon as he arrived. He then moved onto Terneuzen near the entrance to the Ghent canal. This is one of Tony’s favourite spots where ships come in close to the shore and the light is right for photography. The quality of the photography was up to it’s usual standard even though the weather remained overcast for most of his visit. The ships were a mix of container ships, coasters, tankers and bulk carriers. Visits were also made to Antwerp with ships taken at both the old and new docks. One slide showed 3 Grimaldi ships bow to stern alongside the new docks. A visit was also made to the docks at Ghent. Our thanks to Tony for a fine collection of slides, which was accompanied by a comprehensive commentary which was no mean feat considering the photos had been taken less than three weeks before.Ian’s collection of slides covered the year of 1983 at Tilbury. Those that remembered the docks at that time were reminded of many old favourites such as ships of the Palm Line, the Russian Balt–Orient Line, Blue Star Line, and CP ships. This was the year of the Dock strike and the year that “King Alfred” left long time lay up in the Royal Docks and was refitted in the now defunct Tilbury dry dock to become the Chinese “Luo Fu Shan”. The bulk carrier “Bruni” was the first ship to load scrap in Tilbury, an activity transferred from the Royals. The ex “Stockholm” then renamed “Volkefreundschaft” by the East Germans was also a visitor to the dry dock. This was a time when conventional cargo ships were still common, particularly Chinese, a time when specifically built container ships were becoming common, but there were still a large number of container vessels converted from other hulls. Thanks to Ian for his meticulous research into each ship, which came up with the surprising fact that about 50% of the ships were still trading.

 

June 2004

We were pleased to welcome David Salisbury from North Surrey branch to our meeting held on 7th June. He presented his slide show “Soviet Merchant Ships” in the time frame 1971 to 1990. This consisted of nearly 200 slides from his own collection and from other society member’s collections including those of Don Brown, Roy Kittle, Simon Olsen and Frank Miles. The slides were taken in many places across the world and included the usual haunts in northern Europe such as the New Waterway, Terneuzen and the Thames. Worldwide they were taken in such diverse places such as the Bosphorous, East and West Canada, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong and the Mediterranean. Some of the shots taken were from David's own small boat which he launched into the Thames.The ship types depicted were most comprehensive, starting with cruise liners and working down through Ro-Ros; Reefers; General Cargo Ships; Bulk Carriers; Tankers, including OBOs and LPG carriers and wine tankers; Fish Factory Ships; Trawlers; Icebreakers and Research Ships.It was interesting to note the large number of vessels that were ice capable and also, that some ships were in classes of 80 or more showing the vastness of the soviet fleet.David ended his show with some “Golden Oldies”, particularly interesting were the Liberty ships acquired by the soviets during and after the war.Our thanks to David for making the journey to Mid-Essex and for his very comprehensively researched commentary.

 

July 2004

 

 

 Tasmania Star in Liverpool Docks

Copyright © Ron Baker

Ron Baker from Hythe (near Folkestone) was our guest speaker at our meeting on Monday 5th July. Ron, a native of Liverpool, gave us a first class tour of the Liverpool docks, mainly during the ‘70s with a few oldies from the ‘60s. Ron remembers well the visits as a young lad to the docks with various friends and relations whilst they were working their Saturday morning overtime. He explained that most of his early photos were taken with a simple fixed lens camera, (none of the SLRs with interchangeable zoom lenses, auto focus and exposure of today) from a dock shed roof. For most of us it was a trip down memory lane, seeing the long gone liner cargo ships belonging to Bank Line, Booth Line, Blue Funnel, Blue Star, Canadian Pacific, Cunard, Ellerman, Glen Line, Harrison’s, New Zealand Shipping, PSNC, Shaw Saville and Cunard White Star. Ron’s obvious favourite (and ours) was Elder Dempster’s liner Aureol that mysteriously appeared in many a slide. Many other old favourites included Cunard’s Mauretania, Shaw Saville’s Dominion Monarch, and Cunard White Star’s Britannic. For completeness ships were seen in other ports around world, with a good number taken at Cape Town. Also slides were from within the UK, at London, Falmouth, Fowey, and Swansea. It was an evening of nostalgia seeing so many of those wonderful funnels that we all remember seeing at that time in the nearby London Docks.Our thanks to Ron for travelling to Mid -Essex for the evening, and look forward to taking him up on his offer to bring along another show.

 

August 2004

 Our meeting on 2nd August had a naval flavour with the showing of two videos. The first featured the navy’s five Ark Royals, mainly concentrating on the last three. The Ark Royal of 1937, “sunk” many times by the German propaganda machine, finally sank in the eastern Mediterranean on 14th November 1942 as a result of a torpedo fired from U81 the previous day. The Next Ark Royal was laid down in 1943 was finally completed in 1955 and pioneered the angled deck, the steam catapult and the mirror landing sight and improved landing arrester gear. She was decommissioned in 1978. Over that period she flew a variety of aircraft from the Hawker Sea Hawk to the American F4 Phantom FG1s together with the Buccaneer and the rather ungainly but vital Fairey Gannet AEW3. The present Ark Royal, conceived as a through deck cruiser, flies the Harrier VSTOL aircraft; initially the Sea Harrier and latterly the RAF Harrier. She was the third carrier of the Invincible class and commissioned in late 1985 incorporating the lessons learned from the Falklands conflict, which included the Sea King AEW3, the 12º ski ramp and the Vulcan Phalanx CIWS. The film showed flying from all three carriers and pictures of the sinking 3rd Ark. The second video featured Operation Pedestal, the vital convoy to relieve Malta in August 1942. This video was narrated by Admiral Lewin a member of the World Ship Society and featured eyewitness accounts from seamen who served in the convoy.Each of the 14 merchant ships in the convoy were cross loaded. Each carried a variety of cargos including a deck cargo of aviation fuel. The exception was the Ohio chartered from the Americans and carried 11,500 tons of Kerosene and oil fuel. These 14 ships were escorted by 59 warships, which included the aircraft carriers Victorious, Indomitable and Eagle and backed by the heavy gunfire of battleships Nelson and Rodney. Once through the Straits of Gibraltar their cover was “blown” due to a spy onboard a Spanish fishing boat and a Vichy French commercial pilot reporting their whereabouts.During the ensuing battles which started on the 10th August Eagle was sunk, Indomitable was seriously damaged and only three of the convoy reached Valetta on the 13th. However due to great bravery and superb seamanship the severely damaged Ohio was brought into port a day later with a large percentage of its cargo intact. The video also used some of the film made by the Italians of the conflict (entitled “Battle of the Scicillian Channel”) which proved an interesting view from the other side.Our thanks to Alan Chapman of North West Kent for crossing the “water” and presenting these very interesting videos via the LCD projector.

 

September 2004

At our meeting on September 6th, we had, what is now, our annual visit from Peter and Christine Ives who share with us their globetrotting quest for shipping. This year their main “outing” was to Chile, and we were privileged to share their unlimited passion for what they found and photographed during their visit.They flew to Santiago and drove to Vina del Mar near Valparaiso. At Valparaiso they found a busy naval and commercial port. One of their first sights was of two ex British Lifeboats one identified as an Arun Class. Direct photography of the Naval side of the docks was a not allowed although inevitably some shots of commercial ships, the dockyard was in the background. One of the four ex British County Class destroyers was identified along with three or four ex British Leander Class frigates. The Commercial port handles containers, both dry and refrigerated mainly for the fruit trade, the supply boats to Easter Island, Fish factory ships car carriers and Cruise liners. Another nearby novelty was a tanker astern to the beach discharging to an inshore tank farm.They also visited Quintero to the north of Valparaiso. Here they export timber – mainly soft wood. There was also a large cement works and oil refineries.At San Antonio was a large container port but sadly not many ships. The pelicans and sea lions had to substitute here.They then took a flight south to Conception and spent a few days there. Here there were an abundance of trawlers and fish factory ships. A large export from this area is fish oil and fishmeal, with trade in coal and iron ore gas and oil. Also pictured was the tug Poderosa recently featured in Marine News. Thence on to Coronel to hunt for the memorial of the Battle of Coronel in 1914 where HMS Monmouth and Good Hope were sunk by the Admiral Spee’s force headed by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. After some searching this was found and photographed. Another historical ship seen was the preserved turret ironclad Huascar originally built in Birkenhead for the Peruvian Navy in 1865.We thank Peter and Christine for coming, and showing their unique shows from different parts of the world, and we look forward to welcoming them next year when we hope to have an evening “in” New Zealand.

 

 

October 2004

At our October meeting on Monday 4th, we were pleased to welcome Mike Jackson from Dover. Mike, a sea going radio officer until 1998, visited us last year and showed slides of ships taken during the early years of his career on tankers. This year he presented his show “Barton to Beauharnois” a pictorial of journeys from Manchester to the Great Lakes that he took between 1978 and 1988. The Manchester Ship Canal is 36 miles to Eastham via 5 locks and 25 further miles to the Mersey Bar light vessel. Work started in on the canal 1887 and completed in 1894Mike sailed on two ships out of Manchester; the “Pass of Balmaha” a chemical tanker of 3500 dwt built in 1975 owned by Panocean and managed by Corys, and the bulk carrier “Carchester” of 14,800 dwt., a modified IHI Freedom. We travelled from Manchester on Carchester with pictures whilst in the various locks and under the bridges showing why Carchester had to have telescopic masts! There were also pictures of crossing the Atlantic some in calm and peaceful conditions and others in severe weather with the ship pitching and rolling in some severe gales. These were taken from Carchester and from ships of Bolton Maritime Management when Mike sailed aboard Nosira Lin, Nosira Sharon and Nosira Madeleine. The St Lawrence Seaway and the Welland Canal, a great feat of engineering that bypasses Niagara Falls, make the Great Lakes accessible to the sea allowing import and export of goods to the manufacturing and farming heartland of North America. The journeys start at the entrance to the Seaway at Montreal, which is some 900 miles from Newfoundland, passing Beauharnois on the way to Lake Ontario, and ending in various ports within the canal and lakes system, including Detroit, Toledo and Duluth, which is probably the furthest from Montreal at the western end of Lake Superior, a distance of over 1300 miles. Mike gave us a detailed history of canal systems and showed pictures of the “lakers” both old and new that ply the many ports in the United States and Canada.We are grateful to Mike for coming from Dover to show us his slides and talk about his life at sea, and for the well-researched commentary on the waterways and ships that came across his camera lens.

 

November 2004

We held the branch AGM at our November meeting, the minutes of the previous AGM held in November 2003 were read and approved and the chairman secretary and treasurer gave their reports. It was agreed to raise the monthly meeting contribution to £1 (from 50p) to accommodate a rise in the cost of hiring the meting room. Neil Davidson and Brian Fairbrass retired from the committee and after a vote, the following members form the 2004/5 committee; chairman, David Brown; secretary and treasurer, Ian Wells; vice chairman, Roy Leach and committee members, Robin Butcher, Andrew Smith and Ray Smith. The AGM very rarely takes up too much time and we handed over the rest of the evening to Roy Kittle who showed us Part One of his collection of slides, “Shipping in the New Waterway in 1970/71, (NOT the Scheldt as previously and incorrectly advertised). Until 1970 Roy didn’t venture much further than the Thames to view and photograph ships but after meeting a couple of other WSS members he was invited to join them on a trip to the New Waterway. This was Roy’s first trip abroad and he set off complete with his trusty Pentax S1 and standard and 105 mm lens. There was a great variety of shipping to be seen on the Waterway and the number of ships somewhat overwhelmed him, totalling at least 500 in the 15 days he was there. Photos were mainly taken in the Rozenburg area with some at the Hook. The advent of containers to Rotterdam in the mid sixties was gathering pace, with close to 250,000 boxes handled in 1970 (6.5 million in 2000). During this time there were a number of vessels converted to container ships from other trades. Roy’s slide of Verona was typical, converted from the tanker Esso Paris complete with a new mid body inserted. Others were conversions from T2 and C4 standard ships. Also depicted were the emerging purpose built containerships which were soon to be found too small for the fast increasing trade in boxes. Another innovation was the barge carrier Acadia Forest. Probably those to draw most comment from the audience were British ships such as Clan Macdonald built in 1939 and the 1952 built City of Port Elizabeth. Also favourites were ships of the Holland America line with their passenger liners Ryndam and Nieuw Amsterdam and some ‘kerks and ‘dyks. We thank Roy for his accomplished commentary and ship research, and look forward to Part Two in January.

 

December 2004

Our meeting on December 6th was scheduled to show the new tape slide show from Vancouver but due to a communication error the show was not sent to us. We have re-booked it for the April 2005 meeting.Instead we saw the slides taken by Ian Buxton whilst on a visit to the Panama Canal in April 2003. A script compiled by Ian accompanied this. The show started with a brief history of the canal that opened in 1914, and maps to show the route of the canal and the position of the locks. The canal is 50 miles long and on average a ship takes 30 hours to transit (including waiting at the port of entry). The largest ships that can transit the canal are 960 feet long and 106 feet wide, governed by the size of the locks. The most common ship to pass through the canal is the bulk carrier followed by container ships and reefers. Judging by the numbers of car carriers snapped by Ian they must come quite high up the list as well!Ian took many of his slides from the canal bank but was also able to take some striking shots from the visitor galleries at the Gatun and Miraflores Locks, showing just how tight a Panamax ship sits within the lock.

Of course no account of the canal could be complete without some pictures of the “Mules”. Eight of these are required for a Panamax ship, two on each quarter. Ian also gave a good account of the various tugs and cranes that are used to service and maintain the waterway. Crane barges of particular interest were the 1913 German built “Hercules” with a lift of 200 tons and the 1942 built “Titan” with a 350-ton lift.

The canal is now being used more and more by cruise ships as shown by Ian’s pictures of the Panama limit “Carnival Spirit”. Some cruise ships transit the whole canal at a cost of some $103,000 and other, gulf-based ships, pass through to the Gatun Lake and then return. Ian secured a visit to the Pedro Miguel locks and then onward through the canal on board the oil products barge ”Energy 8001” on its delivery voyage. This was being assisted by the tug “Drew Foss”. The barge was loaded with oil products to defray the cost of the tow. This gave a unique position to photograph ships and the passage through locks.

At the Atlantic end of the canal we were shown a good selection of smaller coasters operating in the area. The show ended with a few wrecks still visible after over twenty years. The most notable was a casualty of a hurricane in 1981, which was built as Gibson’s “Abbotsford”. We were pleased that the show was available at short notice to fill the gap, and was enjoyed by all especially those members who knew the canal. Our thanks to Ian Buxton for recording what must have been a very memorable visit and for the well researched commentary.