Friday, 21 July 2017 10:37

468 SSNujoma1

After arriving in Cape Town from her builders for outfitting in August 2016, the world’s largest and most advanced diamond exploration and sampling vessel undertook sea trials in November and recently entered service on the coast of Namibia (SW Africa). SS Nujoma, is owned by Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Namibian government and the De Beers Group.

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Built by Kleven Verft AS shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway
Owned by Debmarine, Namibia
LOA 113m
Beam 22m
Displacement 12,000 tones
Propulsion: diesel electric
Crew 80
Helicopter deck suitable for Sikorsky S61s
Construction cost $139 million

SS Nujoma
is the sixth vessel in the specialized Debmarine fleet, and the first to be dedicated to both exploration and sampling. It incorporates technology that allows it to take larger samples faster and with more information per sample compared to similar vessels and at more than double the speed of its predecessors. Established in 2002, Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore and last year collected around 1.2 million carats, generally at depth of 120 to 140 meters. Diamond mining is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy with the partnership between the De Beers Group and the Namibian Government delivering more than N$10 billion in revenue annually.

The history of De Beers is interwoven with that of Southern Africa. In 1870, a 17 year old English boy’s failing health persuaded his family to send him to South Africa in the hope that the hot climate would cure him. Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1906), initially worked on his brother’s cotton farm in the Province of Natal in the fields to pick cotton but when the farm failed they moved on to Kimberley in 1871 to pick diamonds. Within 20 years, Rhodes had gained almost complete domination of the world diamond market and His De Beers diamond company, formed in 1888 continues to do so to this day. Rhodes also entered the Cape Parliament in 1880, and served as the Cape Colony’s seventh Prime Minister from 1890-96. De Beers is credited with having created the pereption that diamonds are a scarce commodity thereby always commanding a high price.

SS Nujoma is named after the founding father and first President of Namibia Dr. Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, born in 1929, a Namibian revolutionary and anti-apartheid campaigner who went on to serve three terms as the first President of Namibia (formerly known as South West Africa) from 1990 on achieving independence from South Africa, until he stood down in 2005.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 14 July 2017 12:02

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For those who seek to take a cruise without queuing for the buffet, scrambling for a deck chair or being targeted for the platinum drinks package, we have a solution. Sitting quietly alongside at Canada Place earlier this week was the unique cruise ship The World, the largest privately owned residential yacht sailing the seas. The residents, from about 45 countries, live on board in 165 residences as the ship circuits the globe, staying in most ports several days. A few residents live on board full-time while most visit periodically throughout the year.

Built by Fosen Mek Verksteder A/S, Rissa, Norway, completed in 2002
Owned by ResidenSea, Miramar, Florida, United States
Operated by ROW Management, Ltd., headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States.
LOA 196.3m
Beam 29.8m
GRT 43,524 tons
Service speed 18.5 knots
Guests 150 – 200 (average)
Crew 280
The ship has 12 decks (12), 1 helicopter pad, 2 swimming pools, 1 tennis court, 6 restaurants, mini-golf course
Construction cost $266 million

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The concept of such a ship was the brainchild of Mr. Knut Kloster, the former Chair of Royal Viking Line and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). The hull was built in Sweden and towed to neighbouring Norway before being purchased by its residents in October 2003. Since then, The World has continuously circumnavigated the globe, spending extensive time in some of the most interesting ports, allowing residents to wake up in a new destination every few days in lifestyle available only to the mega rich and famous. Not only do residents own their individual residences, but collectively, they own the ship, ensuring that the experiences, onboard and off, are far beyond normally accepted standards of luxury travel.

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The World’s Three-Bedroom Residences (pictures above) offer a modern kitchen, three full bathrooms and generous living, bedroom and veranda space – the ultimate in seagoing comfort and luxury. The vessel also offers countless services & amenities- expeditions and land programs, unique art gallery, chapel, library, concierge, Medical Center, theater, night club and of course video-on-demand. For onboard entertainment there are also classes offered in topics such as navigation, dance, language, cooking, music, computers, arts and crafts, photography. There is even a boutique, a small grocery store & delicatessen.

On January 28, 2017, The World broke the world's record for the most southerly navigation. The vessel reached Bay of Whales (Ross Sea, Antarctica) - coordinates 78°43.997'S and 163°41•421´W. The record was for sailing the furthest south ever on a cruise ship. The vessel will spend her summer in Canada and Alaska before heading down to Mexico and Central America in the company of our migrating humming birds. In November, she will call into Cuba and then spend time in the southeastern United States before welcoming in 2018 with festivities in Miami.

A few Residencies are available for re-sale if you happen to have won the lottery recently.

  • A basic Studio will set you back US$600,000 (initially sold at $90,000).
  • Two Bed (Ocean Residence) apartment $2.95 million.
  • MS The World Suites are available for a mere $13.5 million (initially sold at $6 million).
  • Short-term rentals - you can rent some of The World's cruise apartments (depending on category) from $550 for a studio apartment (per person per night, min for 5 days) to suite rentals - from $20,000 a month.
  • Some of the residences are also available for rent - at $2,100 a day. Discounts are available for repeat guests.
  • The World ship's apartments sizes vary from 1350 ft2 (125 m2) to 3000 ft2 (280 m2)

However, you would be wise to take note that as a residence owner, ship service fees start at $60,000 per year rising to $300,000 a year for the largest suites. The annual fees cover crew, fuel, maintenance, port charges and meals. Oh and by the way, $8 million is the entry fee. This investment buys you a lease expiring in the distant future of the year 2052.  Vessel owners, ResidenSea, do not reveal who the residents are, but they do guarantee that The World does not accept residents with criminal records. Thank goodness for that.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Friday, 07 July 2017 09:25

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Following a truly innovative conversion from a humble short sea trading container ship to a ro-ro vessel, the Rotra Vente has caught the eye of many in the European ship building industry. Rotra Vente is the first of two innovative vessels that are specifically designed for ease of shipping wind turbine parts such as masts, nacelles (engine rooms) and rotor blades. The base was an existing container ship’s hull, which was converted into a special service heavy cargo vessel with ramp. The conversion of the original vessel includes the incorporation of a movable bow and extendable ramp, allowing for unhindered ro-ro operations access.

Built by Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries, Nantong, PRC
Converted by Holland Shipyards
Owned by Amasus Shipping BV
Operated by Siemens Wind Power GmbH & Deugro Danmark A/s
LOA 141.6m
Beam 20.6m
GRT 6,564 tons
DWT 8,929 MT
Propulsion: Wartsila 8L38C with 5,400kW output to a CP propellor
Service speed 15 knots
Crew capacity 11
Original name: Flintercoral

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Rotra Vente is the first of two ro-ro vessels designed by the Concordia Group in The Netherlands and converted by Holland Shipyards for Germany’s Siemens Group. For Siemens, the charterer of the vessel, and means of loading and unloading, allows for a highly cost effective operation contributing to the aim of cutting the logistical costs of generating offshore wind power. Rotra Vente was installed with new rudder and propeller systems at Shipyard de Schroef in Sas van Gent before being outfitted at Holland Shipyards with the design and conversion taking 10 months to complete ahead of eventual delivery in December 2016. Now formally classified as a new vessel, she is now trading between Siemens’ new manufacturing plant in Cuxhaven, Germany, and installation sites in the North and Baltic Seas. A second vessel, Rotra Mare (above right) also recently entered service.

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Siemens launched its new offshore logistics concept at European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) conference in 2015 and signed a long-term framework contract with Danish freight forwarding company Deugro in November 2015 for the shipping of large wind farm components using the two new vessels. Rotra Vente is anticipated to reduce logistics costs by 15-20% when compared with the existing transport modes. The bow and extendable ramp are moved hydraulically to enable the movement of large loads to and from the main cargo deck while the large bow door allows easy vehicle  access the restructured cargo deck. The deck itself is protected by a telescoping collapsible roof to safeguard turbine components during sea passages The flexible layout of the deck supports the carriage of up to nine wind tower sections or up to four rotor blade sets per trip. The ship also features a fully automatic ballast and de-ballast system to compensate for the transversal unequal dispersion of load. She was proposed as a candidate for the Nor-Shipping Energy Efficiency Award 2017.

Of interest, Siemens generated revenues of Euro 79.6 billion in 2016 with a net revenue of Euro 5.6 billion. The company has 351,000 employees distributed across the globe.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 30 June 2017 11:09

465 V2V Empress1


Some 23 years after a similar venture failed due to lack of ridership, Saturday May 6 saw the launch of a new passenger only ferry service between the Steamship Building in Victoria Inner Harbour and Vancouver Convention Centre, Coal Harbour. The catamaran V2V Empress is owned by Riverside Marine, a family owned enterprise, based in Brisbane, that has been in business for 91 years and which is now owned and operated by the 3rd generation of the founding Campbell family. The start up cost for the new service was said to be in the region of $15 million including the cost of conversion from a dining and entertainment vessel sailing on the St. Lawrence to her new role at Point Hope Shipyard in Victoria.

Built in 1995 by Goelette Marie Clarisse, La Baleine, Quebec
Owned by V2V Vacations
LOA 39m
Beam 11m
GRT 465 tons
DWT 60 tonnes
Capacity 254 seats
Previous name: Famille Dufour II

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After a disruptive start-up week due to electrical problems, the service is now up and running. One-way fares (taxes not included) start at $120 for adults and $60 for children ages two to 12 in Premium Comfort Class, and rise to $199 each for adults and children in first class. The highest level is Royal Class with a price of $240 each for adults and children. Royal class, with 22 seats, features a three-course meal, the most luxurious seats and the best views. The mid-range First Class option also features a three-course meal and has luxury seating. For those slumming it in Premium Comfort Class, the Air Canada models prevails i.e. food and beverages are sold separately. Personal power ports for charging devices are available in the upper two classes and wi-fi throughout.

Daily sailings depart Vancouver at 8am and Victoria at 2pm. While the company is heavily targeting the service to tourists, there is also a push to attract locals for the 3.5 hour voyage. If the service proves to be successful, the owners have floated the option of an eventual second vessel for the route and thereby offering two departures per day.

Clipper Navigation which already operates a twice daily passenger only service from Victoria to Seattle is also planning to offer a Victoria to Vancouver passenger only service beginning in the Spring of 2018.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 23 June 2017 11:09

464 UltraInnovation1

Seen here loading potash at Neptune Terminal Berth 3 in North Vancouver is the recently built Supramax bulk carrier Ultra Innovation.

Delivered in 2016 by
Owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha
Chartered by Ultrabulk A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark
LOA 199.98m
Beam 32.2m
DWT 61.188 MT

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Ultra Innovation
hit the headlines last month when, following issuance of a court order, she was detained in the Panama Canal when carrying a Moroccan phosphate shipment for Canada’s Agrium from the disputed territory of Western Sahara after the Polisario independence movement claimed the cargo had been transported illegally. She is second bulk carrier to suffer a delay in the Panama Canal related to this geo-political dispute The status of Western Sahara has been in dispute since 1975 when Morocco laid claim to the territory. The two sides have been locked in armed struggle and a diplomatic stand-off ever since and repeated U.N. negotiations have failed to reach a deal.

Ultrabulk A/S is wholly owned by Ultranav, which is the ship owning and operating arm of the Ultramar Group of Chile – a well known name that anyone who has traded to that part of the world will recognize instantly. The original company which was founded in by Captain Albert von Appen in 1952 was entirely focused on ship agency and service companies but lift off soon came after Captain von Appen’s sons Sven and Wolf joined the company. Expansion into the world of tugs, terminals and off-shore supply vessels, not only in Chile but throughout Latin America, ensued. Today the company is further diversified into mining, energy, oil and gas under the leadership of Mr. Dag von Appen and  Mr. Richard von Appen. So far as shipping is concerned, the company’s scope extends to containers, gas, checmicals and dry bulk cargo in the form of Ultrabulk.

In 2010, the company acquired a majority shareholding in Eitzen Bulk A/S, a holding which it increased in 2010 to become sole owner. Today, the company operates a fleet of modern tonnage in the Panamax, Supramax and Handy-size sectors serviced by company headquarters in Copenhagen and branch offices in offices in Hamburg, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. A new office has been opened this year in Cape Town. The company motto is “A Partner you can trust”.

Port of Vancouver potash export shipments were 8 million tonnes in 2016, an 8% decline on 2015 due to tough market conditions.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 16 June 2017 11:54

463 VosPrudence1


While it is a distant problem to most Canadians, a new wave of refugees and illegal immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East is challenging the countries of southern Europe again this summer. This involves hundreds and sometimes thousands of people being rescued from the Mediterranean each week including many children. One such mission last month involved the Medecins San Frontieres chartered offshore supply vessel Vos Prudence which in a single operation rescued 1,449 migrants from 12 different boats and delivered them to Naples after being forced to sail for an extra two days following refusal of a request to land them in Sicily due to heightened security surrounding the G7 summit.  Among the refugees rescued were 207 women, 22 of them pregnant, and more than 140 children, the youngest being just a week old.

Built by Fujian Southeast Shipyard, Fuzhou, PRC and delivered in 2013
Owned and managed by Vroon Offshore Services
Registered in Ancona, Italy
LOA 75m
Beam 17m
GRT 2948 tons
DWT 3324 MT

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Since the beginning of 2017 there has been a steady increase in the number of those who have lost their lives while trying to reach Europe by sea, not having any safe or legal methods by which to do so. Despite the risks, desperate people are rolling the dice, the mortality rate being 0.37% in 2015. However, in the first 5 months of 2017 this has risen to 2.3% compared to 1.2% in the same period of 2016.

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Founded in 1971 by a small group of French doctors and journalists, Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian NGO widely known for its work in the many war-torn, disease ridden and famine affected regions of the world. The organization is supported by some 30,000 volunteer personnel comprising doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators spread across roughly 70 countries. Private donors provide about 90% of the organization's funding, while corporate donations make up the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$1.6 billion.

The organization emphasizes "independence and impartiality," and explicitly precludes political, economic, or religious factors in its decision making. For these reasons, it limits the amount of funding received from governments or intergovernmental organizations.

Founded in 1890, Vroon B.V. is headquartered in Breda, The Netherlands, and employs some 4,000 people globally including the manning of a diverse fleet of approximately 200 vessels. The company operates through a number of subsidiaries in the sectors of offshore-support vessels, offshore installation, maintenance and engineering services, dry-cargo vessels, container vessels, product & chemical tankers, asphalt & bitumen tankers, car carriers, livestock carriers and ship management services.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Thursday, 08 June 2017 16:15

462 G2Logo

462 LawinArrow1

Seen here as the first vessel of the combined fleets of Gearbulk Shipping and Grieg Star Shipping to be painted in the new G2 Ocean livery is the Fleximax Eco designated vessel Lawin Arrow. In October 2016 it was announced that the two long time competitors would form a joint venture to operate their combined fleet of open hatch, semi open hatch and conventional bulk vessels. In early 2017, it was announced that the name chosen for the joint venture would be G2 Ocean, thereby retaining the “G” from the two owners. Now up and running, G2 Ocean is owned 65% by Gearbulk and 35% by Grieg Star. The total number of vessels operated by G2 Ocean is over 130, supported by a network of offices on every continent.


Delivered in 2014 by Oshima Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, Saikai, Japan
Owned by Gearbulk Shipping
Operated by G2 Ocean, Bergen, Norway
LOA 200m
Beam 32m
GRT 37,150 tons
DWT 62,841 MT
Registered in Bahamas
Sister vessels: Avocet, Misago and Osprey Arrow


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In the four years following delivery of the first of Gearbulk’s Fleximax II vessels, the cumulative impact of several design improvements have provided Lawin Arrow and her three sister vessels with a 13% reduction in fuel consumption at full speed. The design improvements focus on the following areas:

  • An advanced  anti-fouling, low friction, underwater paint system
  • Two devices ahead of the propeller - flipper fins and a pre-swirl stator which together improve the flow of water into the propeller and hence its efficiency
  • An improved rudder design which reduces the energy losses in the water after it has passed through the propeller
  • The elimination of a bow thruster and tunnel which in turn reduces water turbulence and resistance

The combination of these external efficiency improvements enabled a smaller electronically controlled main engine to be fitted to further reduce fuel consumption. The company has estimated that assuming the four Flex II Eco sister vessels operate at full speed at sea for 250 days per year, then the combined reductions in CO2 emissions is equivalent to taking 7,500 cars off the road. As a consequence of these efforts, Lawin Arrow was awarded the Rightship GHG Emissions A grade rating. In the company’s advance on-line literature, one of the world’s largest open hatch gantry carriers, Tenca Arrow (above right) is also simulated in the new colours.

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With final regulatory approvals now in place, the G2 Ocean Board of Directors is composed of five members, three appointed by Gearbulk and 2 appointed by Grieg Star. Chair of the Board is Mr. Hans Petter (above left) with Ms. Elisabeth Grieg of Grieg Star (above centre left) assuming the role of Vice Chair. The Chief Executive Officer is Mr. Rune Birkeland (above centre right) nominated by Grieg Star, and the Chief Commercial Officer is Mr. Arthur English (far right) nominated by Gearbulk. The two parties have retained independent technical ship management and ownership in their respective fleets and the scope of the joint venture excludes activities and vessels operated by Gearbulk in association with other third parties, as well as terminal businesses, transshipment activities, the operation of liquid pitch tankers and caustic bulk vessels. For Grieg Star, their Squamish terminal remains outside the scope of the new company.

Grieg Star Shipping, part of the Grieg Group whose business history goes back to 1884, has been in shipping since 1961 and comes to the joint venture with some 45 owned and chartered open hatch, semi open hatch and conventional bulk vessels. Formed in Since 1968, Gearbulk Shipping brings between 85 and 90 open hatch and conventional bulk vessels to the new venture.

See the G2 Ocean video


Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Friday, 02 June 2017 10:27

461 coscodevelopment1


The Panama Canal expansion Project has for several years resulted in US East Coast container ports licking their lips at the prospect of larger container ships bringing traditional west coast cargo volumes closer to the ultimate major consumers in the Eastern United States. The first neo-Panamax container ship eventually transited the expanded Canal in June 2016 and despite intense competition from the Suez Canal, the number of larger container vessels now taking advantage of the Panama Canal to access the East Coast is expanding. Earlier this month the 13,092 TEU capacity COSCO Development, called at the ports of Virginia, Savannah and Charleston in that sequence.

Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Ulsan, South Korea in 2011
Owned and managed by Seaspan Shipmanagement Ltd. Vancouver
LOA 366m
Beam 48.2m
GRT 141,823 tons
DWT 140,609 MT
Capacity 13,092 TEU
Registered in Hong Kong

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Up until last week's transit of the OOCL France with 116 more TEUs, the COSCO Development was the largest vessel to utilize the expanded canal in connecting Asia with the US East Coast. The Panama Canal reported in April that it had already welcomed its 1,000th Neo-Panamax vessel through the waterway. The container sector accounts for nearly half the transits through the expanded canal and represents its principal source of both traffic and revenue. It is estimated that 53% of container vessel cargo transiting the waterway does so now using the expanded canal. LNG carriers also began using the expanded canal in July 2016 with the volume of these vessels now up to five per week. We also have to mention the Vancouver based Disney Wonder for the Alaska cruise season which at the end of April became the first large cruise ship to use the expanded canal’s new locks.

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COSCO Development, seen above entering the port of Savannah, is operating on the Ocean Alliance South Atlantic Express service which connects the East Coast ports with Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai. Ocean Alliance members are China COSCO Shipping, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), CMA CGM and Evergreen Line.

As the first port of discharge, COSCO Development was taking full advantage of the Port of Virginia’s $670 million investment in a 15.2m navigation channel which equals the new maximum draft of the expanded Panama Canal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 17 Work Plan includes funding for harbor improvement (dredging) projects at the Ports of Charleston ($17.5m), Jacksonville (17.5m) and Savannah ($42.7m). Charleston will also benefit from $300m in state funding. Overall, it is estimated that approximately $4.6 billion is needed at East and Gulf coast ports to remedy pinch points in harbor infrastructure.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 26 May 2017 11:13

460 Triton


This weekend is arguably the marketing opportunity of the year for designers and manufacturers of luxury yachts as the rich and famous gather in Monaco for the latest stage of the Formula 1 Grand Prix. A stroll around Monaco’s picturesque inner harbour in the past few days would hardly fail to impress anyone with an interest in the ultra luxury side of our industry – yours to rent for a mere US$100,000 and upwards per night. Closer to home, I couldn’t help but notice this week a stand out of its own sitting quietly in Coal Harbour Marina, namely the Expedition Super Yacht Triton.

Designed and built by Triton Marine, Seattle in 2004
LOA 49.7m
Beam 9.7m
Draft 2.8m
Powered by Twin Caterpillar 3508 engines with twin screws
Accommodation for 12 guests
Cruising speed 16 knots

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Triton’s American owners use her for worldwide cruising, deep-sea fishing and reef diving, a typical example being above left where she is anchored off the island of Kemmunett, Malta. She has spent a number of summers in the Mediterranean and even cruised through the Suez canal to Saudi Arabia and the Seychelles to spend the winter. However, she is no stranger to ice as demonstrated by the picture centre above centre during a cruise to Alaska.

Building on years of experience in composite construction, the designers harnessed advanced hull laminate and carbon fibre materials to ensure Triton’s high level of strength and durability. At the same time, minimal vibration was ensured by soft mounting the main engines and all interior spaces are literally “floating”. With four decks of living and entertaining areas, Triton features a full width master stateroom forward on the main deck with sitting room, library and an office with a video editing station intended to allows guests to edit the day's video footage. Additional features include a large walk in refrigerator to cool the wine, a large gym to work off the calories and televisions that flip down from the ceiling to keep an eye on your favourite news and sports channels, not to mention an underwater camera in the bulbous bow and underwater lights at the stern. Just in case you are exhausted after a day’s cruising, an elevator connects guests between the lower deck to the upper flying bridge which also features a hot-tub.

For those who appreciate more active and technical entertainment, Triton is equipped with a sophisticated dive compressor with Nitrox and Tri-Mix capability and a dive platform at the transom for ease of entry and exit from the water. A Simrad state-of-the-art sonar and bottom-mapping system photographs the ocean bottom beneath the yacht and stores the information as 3-D maps ideal for pinpointing wrecks or reefs for diving. On the main deck, two 24-foot tenders can be launched using overhead gantry cranes while the upper deck is equipped with an additional 6000 lb capacity knuckle-boom crane to lift tenders or load heavy items onboard in port, as well as the customary helicopter landing pad. 

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The pictures above provide a taste of Grand Prix week in Monaco. Smaller cruise ships can enter the inner harbour to nestle in with the super yachts while larger cruise ships anchor off-shore and use their tenders to ferry their guests ashore. First held in 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the few street races on the Grand Prix circuit and incorporates several  elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. The late Ayrton Senna of Brazil took the chequered flag at Monaco an amazing six times during his 10 years of Formula One racing. He sadly lost his life at the age of 34 on 1 May 1994, as a result of crashing into a concrete barrier while he was leading the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 19 May 2017 11:34

459 Tidespring1

The latest vessel to join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the civilian arm of the UK’s Royal Navy, is the fleet replenishment vessel RFA Tidespring, designated A136. After a ten-month construction delay, the UK Ministry of Defence accepted this, the first of four Tide-class tankers, from the South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) on January 12, 2017. Several technical issues, including wiring and electrical design, were said to have resulted in the delay to acceptance of the vessel. These vessels are intended to provide fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy and allied vessels around the globe. Norway has ordered a slightly larger design at the same yard with a 48 bed hospital and greater solid stores capacity while Australia is to build a series of similar vessels, also at DSME.

Built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Okpo, South Korea
Owned and operated by the UK Government (Royal Fleet Auxiliary)
Keel laid June 2014
LOA 200.9m
Beam 28.6m
GRT 29,324 tons
DWT 21,750 MT
Speed: maximum 28.6 knots, cruising 17.6 knots
Range: 18,200 nautical miles
Flight deck & hanger capacity for mid-range Merlin class helicopter but strengthened for Chinook class
Crew 63 plus provision to embark up to 46 flight and combat personnel
Sister ships under construction: RFA Tiderace, RFA Tidesurge, RFA Tideforce
Cost GBP 452 million for four vessels

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The order for the new vessels was originally placed with DSME in February 2012 at a cost of £452 million, of which £150m would be spent on final fitting out in the UK. The construction of naval supply ships in South Korea generated controversy in the UK, but no British naval yards had tendered for the order as they were fully occupied with the construction of modules related to the new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.  The picture below left shows tank testing of replenishment operations using models of the new aircraft carriers with the new Tidespring class replenishment vessels.

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The last vessel to carry the Tidespring name (picture above right) served the Royal Fleet Auxiliary for 30 years from 1962 until 1992 and saw action in the UK’s Aden Withdrawal (1967-68), also Monrovia (1990). Most notably however, in 1982, she found herself assigned to the naval task force sent to the South Atlantic to liberate the Falkland Islands following the surprise Argentine invasion of that year. Those actions helped the Tidespring name to earn its first battle honour. The board carrying the honour, along with the original ship’s badge, were kept safe when the original Tidespring was paid off in the early 1990s and were shipped to South Korea to enjoy pride of place on the new ship.

Canada is also to build new fleet supply vessels known as the Queenston Class. The vessels will be constructed at the Seaspan Marine North Vancouver Shipyard under the National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy. It was announced in 2013 that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Berlin Class replenishment ship (picture above right) would be the basis for the design of the new vessels. The first of class, HMCS Queenston, is scheduled for an early 2021 delivery, and is expected to be operational later that year. HMCS Châteauguay is expected to follow in 2022.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.