Branch Meeting Reports for 2011



December 2011 

At our December meeting we held our AGM. Our officers and committee remain unchanged except for the unanimous election of Ian Wells as our second Vice Chairman. It was decided not to make any change to the current £2.00 per meeting room fee.


Current Committee:

Chairman: Robin Butcher

Secretary: David Brown

Treasurer: John Hampson

Vice Chairmen Jerzy Swieszkowski and Ian Wells

Honorary Auditors: Ray Smith and Michael Vincent

Committee: Andrew Smith, John Raven, John Harrison, and Ray Smith


During "Any Other Business” the matter of the Leslie Sergent Quiz was discussed. It was agreed that we investigate the possibility of restarting the event under another guise and perhaps involving other branches in the east of England. It was believed that the hard work put in by Southend Branch in setting the questions should not go to waste. It was agreed that we were willing to host the event at Ingatestone if there was sufficient interest.

The remaining part of the evening was taken up with the concluding part of Ray Smith’s fascinating presentation of ships seen in and around Istanbul in 2010. This part concentrated on the area around Tuzla which has a very high density of ships. Some anchored awaiting orders or the ultimate torch, others for refurbishment or repair in the many refitting yards, and some on the stocks being built or afloat fitting out. Out thanks to Ray for bringing the area alive with his excellent photography and well researched commentary.


November 2011

At our November meeting, branch member Ray Smith gave us a presentation on his visit to Istanbul in 2010 with the Thames Ship Society. Their trips take full advantage of the many small ferries and excursion boats that operate in the straits between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Ray says that there are so many ships either underway or in the anchorages that it is difficult to photograph them all! Ship types were varied ranging from oil tankers, chemical tankers and gas carriers to bulk carriers, general cargo ships and container ships.

Ray says the best vantage point at the Black Sea end of the Bosphorous is at the “Fish restaurant” car park, especially from midday onwards.

One wonders how many of the older ferries will survive once the new tunnel is operational. Several of the traditional looking ferries were shown but are giving way to sleeker and faster catamaran types. The UKRANE, train ferry still crosses the strait with carriages – how much longer will this vessel last? Also shown were the cruise ships COSTA SERENA and MSC MAGNIFICA.

Notable ships seen were the bulk carrier MIRACH that was to founder off India only months later, the HANTALLAR built in 1906 as the JADA, and the very elegant two funnelled yacht M/Y SAVARONA. The new XBow design research vessel POLARCUS ASIMA built at Drydocks World - Dubai shipyard in the United Arab Emirates was shown on what must have been one of its early voyages having been completed in April 2010.

Our thanks go to Ray for his excellent photography and comprehensive commentary.


October 2011

We were pleased to welcome Derek Sands from Harwich once again. By popular demand the branch had asked for another viewing of Derek’s show “The Port of Ipswich”.

When it was built in 1842, Ipswich wet dock was the largest enclosed dock in the UK. Now part of Associated British Ports, it was until1997 owned by Ipswich Docks Ltd.

Derek worked at the rail terminal within the Ipswich Docks during the early 1990s when the majority of photographs were taken.

At that time there was a large amount of bulk cargo handled including grain, slag, stone, oil and fertiliser. Jebsen’s FULLNES was one ship shown loading grain. Timber was another regular import. One of the largest visitors to the port was the SUPER VENTURE of 17,000 dwt with a cargo of timber. Smaller cargos (on vessels such as the BRENDONIA) from the wet dock included malt from Pauls Maltings, which the brewers of “Becks” used exclusively. Surprisingly, when the container port was in full operation on the south bank of the river, Ipswich was the fourth largest container port in the country. Some of the other unique cargos to Ipswich at that time were a part cargo of New Zealand onions destined for McDonald’s, a wine tanker, and a few refrigerated deliveries. Ships from the Everard (AMITY) and Metcalf (DAVID M) coaster fleets were also visitors. Pictures of NORCAPE and NORCOVE were representatives of the North Sea Ferries services that operated from the port at that time.

Prior’s shipyard was also operational at that time and served the Denison fleet. As ships became larger and longer conventional use of the lock to the wet dock was abandoned and entry made at high tide with both lock gates open!

Derek had updated his vessel histories since it’s last showing and it was interesting to note that a considerable number of ships were still trading or had only very recently gone for scrap.

Our thanks to Derek for bringing us another interesting evening, for his time to visit us and for updating the commentary.


September 2011

This month we continued, albeit 20 years later, our interest in the southern Caribbean. We welcomed Peter & Christine Ives for their annual branch visit and they showed us some digital images and video of their recent trip on “THOMPSON DREAM” THOMSON DREAM is a cruise ship currently owned by Costa Cruises and operated under charter by Thomson Cruises. She was built in 1986 at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, West Germany as HOMERIC for Home Lines. In 1988 she was sold to Holland America Line and renamed WESTERDAM. In 1990 she was lengthened by 36.9 m (121 ft 1 in) at Meyer Werft. In 2002 she was transferred to the fleet of Costa Cruises and renamed COSTA EUROPA. In April 2010 she left the fleet of Costa Cruises on a ten-year charter to Thomson Cruises.

Peter and Christine were on the Christmas (2010/2011) cruise visiting Bridgetown in Barbados, Willemstad in Curaçao, Santa Marta in Columbia, Grenada and Aruba.

Photos of the trip included the port of Willemstad and the four lane Queen Juliana Bridge across St. Anna Bay, ships alongside and ships entering and leaving harbour. These included the bulker GREAT NEWS and the products tanker DIGNITY, mystery ship LEWICK TRIUMPH, and the wreck of RICHARD BORDEAUX. In Aruba we saw the reefer SPRING BOB, the German cruise ship AIDAVISTA and Pullmantur’s OCEAN DREAM which is based in Aruba. Also Aruba is famous for its wreck diving and we saw the glass bottom semi-submersible diving on the wreck of Hapag Lloyd’s ANTILLA scuttled on her maiden voyage to avoid capture at the out break of WW2. In Barbados we saw DISNEY MAGIC. Santa Marta in Columbia proved the best for Peter and Christine for shipping but as the shore visit had been cancelled due to high winds it was perhaps not the other passenger’s favourite. Santa Marta’s trade includes oil, grain, coal, lumber, cars and bananas and has a container terminal. Numerous ships out at sea were to be seen loading and unloading by barge.

Our thanks go to Peter and Christine for making the journey to Ingatestone and once again sharing their “ship spotting” holiday in still and video photography. Thanks also for the most entertaining and informative commentary.


August 2011

For the first 30 minutes of the meeting we discussed the recently publicised future of Marine News. The membership asked that our thoughts on this departure be conveyed to the WSS chairman Dr Richard Osbourne.

“Island Memories” was the title of the presentation at our August meeting. The photographs/slides for the show were taken in the early 1990s by Derek Davies whilst he worked on the island of Dominica, one of the Windward Islands. (Not the Dominican Republic which is 400 miles to the north-west). Derek lives near Milford Haven and is a regular at the Swansea Branch of the WSS.

We didn’t have any idea of the types or numbers of ships that could be expected to be seen on such a small island not much larger than the Isle of Wight. We learned about the island, which far from the general idea of a Caribbean island, is mountainous, wet, and has few sandy beaches. There is not sufficient flat land to create an airport of any size, so all the island’s imports and exports are made by sea. One of the largest exports is bananas and the island (at that time) was served by Geest line which brings out general cargo and loads bananas on a regular service.

Other small coasters known locally as Hucksters, often of European origin, traded between the islands sometimes with less than legitimate cargoes. The modernisation of inter-island trading was beginning with the introduction of ro-ro container ferries.

Other cargoes were of cement, oil, gas, empty banana boxes and dry cargo. The local quay sides not having much in the way of dedicated cranes relied heavily on ships derricks for loading and unloading. Oil and gas tankers moored off shore and discharged their cargo through a pipe to the storage depot. There were also visits from medium sized car carriers with a capacity of around 3,000 cars. A typical discharge on Dominica was about 40 cars! There were also occasional visitors such as drilling rigs, tugs and warships. One of the emergent industries was tourism with a growing number of cruise ships visiting.

Our thanks go to Derek for photographing anything and everything that floated during his stay on the island and for scanning and compiling such an interesting show. His well researched notes (augmented by Roland Waite) made this a fascinating evening.


July 2011

At our July meeting we viewed four films depicting shipbuilding in the UK. The first was at Harland & Wolffe, Belfast in 1908 where we saw stages of construction of the then largest liner in the world the OLYMPIC. Then followed the building of the ORION in 1934 at Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness. She survived the war and was finally scrapped in 1963. Then the Tyneside yard of Swan Hunters Ltd, Wallsend on Tyne followed, with the building of the luxury motor passenger/cargo liner DOMINION MONARCH in 1937. Our final film returned to Harland & Wolff at Belfast to view the building of the iconic CANBERRA in 1957.


June 2011

“The ABC of Ships” was the title of the presentation that Ken Larwood gave us on June 6th with Ken Larwood. We loosely translated this as Aggregates, Bulkers and Container ships (and Car carriers), although the show encompassed many other ships that Ken had taken on his visits to both UK and continental destinations.

These included Harwich & Felixstowe, ports and vantage points on the Thames, the south coast, the near continent, and the Mediterranean & Greek islands.

From around the country we had slides of sand suction dredgers at work or to and from their “dredging ground”.

Ken’s favourite local spot is Garrison Point, not far from his home in Whitstable, which enables him to photograph the ships visiting Chatham and beyond, Thamesport, Kingsnorth, Sheerness and Ridham Dock. This gave us pictures of a whole range of ships; tugs, car carriers, general cargo coasters, container ships, reefers, tankers and colliers including the LORD HINTON and SIR CHARLES PARSONS.

Pictures from Gravesend featured cruise ships at Tilbury landing stage, which included ENRICO COSTA, CROWN (now BALMORAL) and MARCO POLO.

On the South Kent coast we visited Ramsgate that also handled cars, with shots of the smaller car carriers such as AUTOROUTE and the ferries SALLY SKY and SALLY STAR. At Dover pictures of cruise ships at the cruise terminal included AMERIKANIS (ex KENYA CASTLE), COSTA MARINA (ex AXEL JOHNSON), ASTOR, SAGA RUBY (ex VISTAFJORD) and NORWEIGAN SKY. Also at Dover we saw pictures of Reefers at the cold storage terminal. Further round the coast and the near continent featured HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN (current holder of the Hale’s Trophy for the fastest Atlantic crossing), the JAMES CLARKE ROSS part of the British Antarctic Survey team, the reefer SEAFROST in Newhaven and the cruise ship SWITZERLAND that was launched as the PORT SYDNEY.

Further afield in the Mediterranean were familiar ships under new colours, mainly ex cross channel ferries.

Our thanks to Ken for once again entertaining us with some of his vast collection of slides and his careful vessel research.


May 2011

At our meeting on May 2nd we staged the second of our “bring and share” video evenings. Our first was a film of a trip on the Manchester Ship Canal from Liverpool to Salford Quays. Not too many ships these days but an interesting trip nevertheless. This was followed by amateur movie taken in Southampton during the mid 60s featuring the QE, QM and the then new QE2. Also seen were the UNITED STATES, ORIANA and Union Castle Liners. Our third film was of the Mumbles Lifeboat disaster in 1947 when the entire crew of eight was lost attempting to rescue the crew of the S.S. SAMTAMPA off Porthcawl.


April 2011

At our meeting on April 4th we showed pictures of ships in the western Mediterranean. The ship traffic in this area is quite brisk with tankers and bulk carriers largely calling in for bunkers before or after an Atlantic crossing. Some of the tankers were familiar having anchored for periods off Southwold on the UK east coast. Ferries were numerous, serving Algeciras, Gibraltar and Tangier. Also featured were container ships calling at the port of Algeciras along with cruise liners at Gibraltar. A very neat looking SAGA ROSE was shown berthed at Gibraltar awaiting her fate following the SOLAS 2010 regulations


March 2011

At our meeting on 7th March we welcomed Society treasurer Bill Mayes who gave us a splendid PowerPoint presentation covering his cruises and visits during 2008. A short cruise from Liverpool to Belfast and Dublin aboard Fred Olsen’s BLACK PRINCE started the evening followed by photos of an overnight promotional visit to Olsen’s BRAEMAR. Other ship visits included BALMORAL, CARNIVAL SPLENDOUR, ALBATROS and AMADEA.

February is perhaps not the most obvious time for a Baltic visit but a trip to Latvia, Sweden, Finland and Estonia were undertaken with pictures of many of the ferries in operation at that time. With a cleverly researched ferry timetable, what is believed to be the record briefest time spent in any one country was claimed by Bill on his turnaround in Tallin - just of 4 minutes!! (Unless of course you know different).

Bill’s claim of his hatred of the A12 took him on a very tortuous trip to the Society AGM at Harwich. This involved a departure from North Shields on QUEEN OF SCANDINAVIA, to Stavanger followed by trips on SUPER SPEED 1, CHRISTIAN 4, FANTASIA, STENA SAGA and finally arriving at Harwich for the AGM on DANA SERANA.

An August trip was to see ROTTERDAM (of 1959) being towed to her new berth in Rotterdam which after some refurbishment opened in 2010 as a combination museum/hotel and school for vocational training.

A further trip in August’s rough weather proved all the rumours about the weather conditions in the southern Irish Sea correct. Taking the STENA EUROPE to Rosslare from Fishguard formed the first leg.Then taking OSCAR WILDE from Rosslare to Roscoff was the plan for the next leg, but due to bad weather she was diverted to Dublin. This rather upset the travel plan of regaining the car parked in Fishguard, but it is an ill wind etc. (pardon the pun) when the Stena Europe also diverted to Dublin so a direct return to Fishguard was possible.

Bill also showed the many ships he took whilst on a TSS trip to Istanbul with yet another possible record; 47 ferry Bosphoros crossings aboard 36 ships in just one week! Bill also showed us some of the tourist sights of Istanbul.

Then followed a cruise on COSTA EUROPA visiting Nice, Savona, Barcelona, Corsica, Genoa and Monte Carlo.

The main trip of the year was a 29 day cruise on SAGA RUBY from Southampton through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea. The photos of ships was more than equalled by the stunning photographs of places visited during the voyage, Petra, Sharm el Sheik, the Karnak Temple, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. On the return voyage SAGA RUBY visited Libya with what Bill says was the highlight of the trip, a visit to Leptis Magna.

There then followed a cruise on MAXIM GORKY from Bremerhaven to Flam at the head of Norway’s beautiful Aurlandsfjord. This was probably MAXIM GORKY's penultimate cruise before she was laid up and eventually scrapped. The last cruise featured was aboard AIDADIVA and was from Palma to Alicante, Valencia and Barcelona before returning to Palma.

Our grateful thanks to Bill for making the journey from Crowthorne and giving us such a varied entertaining and informative presentation.


February 2011

At our February meeting, we staged our third digital photographic competition. Attendance and entrants were lower than we would have liked, but nonetheless the competition revealed a very varied selection of ships. David Berg, Ray, Smith and David Brown each entered their best six images taken during 2010.

The results are as tabled below. The over-all winner was Ray Smith. The best photograph was a tie between David Berg’s stunning shot of HELLESPONT PRIDE and David Brown’s atmospheric photo of the sailing barge REMINDER. The closeness of the marks demonstrates the high quality of photography. During the break we totalled the scores. The entrants then gave information on their pictures and the winning set and picture were announced and the trophy awarded.


Photograph # Points Ship Name           
Image 1-1 28 Eugen Maersk
Image 1-2 29 Express Santori
Image 1-3 29 Lake Triview
Image 1-4 31 Megas Alexandros
Image 1-5 28 MSC Shenzhen
Image 1-6 31 Rega


Total Set 1 (Ray Smith) 176 Points


Photograph Points Ship Name           
Image 2-1 28 Arctic Swan
Image 2-2 30 Dunkerque Seaways
Image 2-3 25 Fjiord
Image 2-4 35 Hellespont Pride
Image 2-5 31 Karin Schepers
Image 2-6 25 Stena Holandica


Total Set 2 (David Berg ) 174 Points


Photograph Points Ship Name           
Image 3-1 35 SB Reminder
Image 3-2 30 Cap Finistere
Image 3-3 20 Arklow Rogue
Image 3-4 28 PS Waverley
Image 3-5 29 White Sun
Image 3-6 27 Sveitzer Bentley


Total Set 3 (David Brown) 169 Points


January 2011

Our December 2010 meeting was cancelled due to bad weather. On Monday 3rd January we held the branch AGM. The minutes of the previous AGM held in October 2009 were read and approved and the chairman, secretary and treasurer gave their reports. Due to an increase in the room hire and an increase in speaker’s expenses, the treasurer suggested an increase in the monthly branch fee and after some discussion a new levy of £2.00 was decided. The treasurer also announced his decision to retire from the post. John Hampson was nominated for the treasurer’s post and following voting the 2010/2011 committee is as follows:

Chairman: Robin Butcher;

Secretary: David Brown;

Treasurer: John Hampson;

Vice Chairman: Jerzy Swieszkowski.

Committee: Andrew Smith, John Raven, Ray Smith and john Hampson.

The Honorary Auditors are Ray Smith and Michael Vincent.


After the break we were shown the concluding 40 or so slides of David Berg’s presentation “Terneuzen Treats 2009” which covered the last few letters of the alphabet and included a good number of tugs, a few funnels and ended with the containership Yang Ming Wajdi Arab. Our thanks to David for his fine photography and we look forward to another show sometime soon.