Friday, 22 September 2017 11:40

477 ScottSpirit 1

The Teekay owned tanker Scott Spirit is a prime example of a modern shuttle tanker designed to load from offshore installations as an alternative to building undersea pipelines to connect offshore oil fields to storage and refinery capacity. Being designed to work in such challenging environments as the North Sea, Brazil or off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, shuttle tankers are arguably among the hardest working vessels in the tanker sector.

Built by Samsung Shipbuilding & Heavy Industries, Geoje, South Korea
Delivered in 2011
Owned and operated by Teekay Shipping, Stavanger, Norway
LOA 248m
Beam 42m
GRT 66,563 tons
DWT 109,334 MT
Registry Bahamas

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Teekay Offshore Partners, is a major player in this intensively competitive business and in June 2015 the company announced the signing of a 15 year shuttle contract with Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation (CHHS), Chevron Canada, ExxonMobil Canada, Husky Energy, Mosbacher Operating Ltd, Murphy Oil, Nalcor Energy, Statoil, and Suncor Energy. Teekay Offshore is to provide shuttle tankers for loading crude oil at Hibernia, Terra Nova, White Rose and Hebron oil fields located off Newfoundland. These 15-year contracts, plus extension options, is initially being serviced by one of Teekay Offshore’s existing shuttle tankers, the Navion Hispania, and two to three third party-owned shuttle tankers currently operating in East Coast Canada. Teekay Offshore also committed to enter newbuild contracts to construct three Suezmax-size, DP2 shuttle tankers for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2017 through the first half of 2018 with an option for one more should it become necessary.

These new long-term Canadian flag shuttle tanker contracts mark Teekay Offshore’s expansion into Eastern Canada’s growing offshore oil production market and have resulted in Teekay Offshore establishing permanent offices and ship operations, Teekay (Atlantic) Management Ulc., in St. John’s Newfoundland. Canship Ugland has previously been the dominant player in the Canadian offshore market since production began at the Hibernia field in 1997.

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In September 2016, Teekay Offshore also entered into conditional contracts with Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) to construct two 154,000 DWT Suezmax-size DP2 shuttle tankers for delivery in 2019 and 2020 with options to order up to two additional vessels to provide shuttle tanker services in the North Sea under Teekay Offshore’s existing master agreement with Statoil ASA. The new vessels will be constructed based on Teekay Offshore’s newly developed Shuttle Spirit design (picture above left with credit to which incorporates technologies aimed at increasing fuel efficiency, reducing emissions and improved LNG propulsion. Teekay Offshore has also transferred its shuttle tanker business into a new subsidiary, Teekay Shuttle Tankers following a contract signed between Teekay Corporation, Teekay Offshore and Brookfield Business Partners as well as its institutional partners to enter into a strategic partnership. The deal includes a USD 640 million investment in Teekay Offshore, following which Brookfield will own approximately 60% of the company.

The picture above right shows Teekay’s Falcon Spirit loading at sea from a single buoy mooring (SBM).


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

Friday, 15 September 2017 11:29

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Seen here alongside in Coal Harbour, but more usually found lying at the Seaspan Dock at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, is the converted yacht St. Eval which began life in the UK having been built at the Bowling Shipyard on the River Clyde in Scotland, as a pre-war Warrior Class tug.

Shipbuilding at the Bowling Shipyard began around 1800 when the McGill brothers established their yard at the Forth and Clyde Canal basin. By the late 1840's the McGill's had joined forces with James Scott to form Scott & McGill, which became Scott and Sons in 1851. Between 1851 and 1979 Scott's built in excess of 450 vessels and was incorporated in 1958 being traded for the first time as Scott & Sons (Bowling) Ltd . In 1965, the company was taken over by Scott's Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd of Greenock and became part of the Scott Lithgow Group. The yard closed in 1979.

Designed and built by Scott and Sons at the Bowling Shipyard, Scotland
Delivered in 1930, served in WWII, refitted in 1993
Length 35m (115 feet)
Beam 7.4m
Displacement 382 tonnes
Main engine single screw 660HP (486kW)
Cruising speed 10 knots
Accommodation for up to four guests
Registered in Falmouth, UK
Previous name: Chieftain

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During the Second World War, when based in Falmouth, Cornwall, in the far south west of the UK, Chieftain was  repeatedly tasked to come to the aid of torpedoed freighters and warships in the English Channel and, when possible, to tow them to port. In 1968, her new owner “Falmouth Towing Company” changed her name to St. Eval after a well known church and north Cornwall hamlet. In 1980 she was purchased by British businessman Peter De Savary and converted into a support vessel for the America's Cup.

In the early 1990's St. Eval was converted into a luxury yacht for Mr. Dennis Washington, however she remains British flagged and the 1992 America's Cup Challenge Port Pendennis emblem is still proudly displayed on her black funnel even though the UK team was forced to eventually withdraw from the event for lack of funding, This was the first time that a UK team had failed to compete for the America's Cup since the UK launched the competition in 1851.

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St. Eval is often featured in Christmas cards and other memorabilia and as the pictures reveal, she is tastefully fitted out with much of her original character preserved.  See the video

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

Friday, 08 September 2017 08:32

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been called on to provide maritime assets in support of the relief efforts on the coast of Texas. One such vessel is the training ship USTS Empire State VIa vessel with a long and interesting history. Originally built for States Steamship Company as a conventional break bulk vessel, she was delivered in 1962 as the SS Oregon, a name she kept until purchased in 1977 by Moore McCormack Lines and renamed Mormactide. She was transferred to United States Lines in 1983 when that company purchased Moore McCormack Lines but by that time, United States Lines was a pure container operator and in 1986 she was turned over to MARAD. In the picture above she is seen in transit of the Kiel Canal, Germany.

Built by Newsport News Shipbuilding, Virgina
Laid down in 1961, delivered in 1962
Owned by US Maritime Administration
LOA 172.2m
Beam 23m
GRT 14,557 tons
DWT 14,620 MT
Propulsion: 2 × Foster Wheeler Type D steam boilers, steam turbines, single screw
Design speed 18 knots
Complement: 684 cadets, 107 officers & crew
Previous names: SS Oregon, SS Mormactide

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Under MARAD, the vessel was originally ear-marked to be converted to an ammunition ship. However, the plan was dropped and instead she underwent a conversion to a Training Ship and renamed Empire State VI. In 1989, she was delivered to the State University of New York Maritime College to replace the older Empire State V.  Under her new name she was activated by MARAD in 1994 to support the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia. She was next activated in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and served as housing and support for port and petroleum industry personnel during the recovery effort in Louisiana. In 2012 following Hurricane Sandy, she was used to provide accommodation to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel.

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Each summer Empire State VI is activated for a 90 day maritime cadet training voyage and having now served New York Maritime College for 25 years, she holds the record as the longest serving power driven vessel ever used by the college. She is expected to remain in use until at least 2020, though proposals to modify her in order to extend her life and remain in compliance through 2031 are under consideration.

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) and its predecessor agencies, the US Maritime Commission, the War Shipping Administration and the United States Shipping Board, have built, owned, operated, or subsidized thousands of merchant vessels, especially during the two world wars. The US Merchant Ship Sales Act of 1946 established the National Defence Reserve Fleet to serve as a reserve of ships for national defence and national emergencies. At its height in 1950, the NDRF consisted of 2,277 ships. That number is currently down to about 100, the picture above right showing a small sample of those laid up in James River, Virginia.

Doubtless, these aged but still useful maritime assets will also be called upon in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which will hit Florida this weekend having already devastated parts of the Caribbean.

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

Friday, 01 September 2017 10:58

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It seems that every summer, records are broken for transits of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) or the North West Passage (NWP). This year is no exception but the economic importance for the LNG trade is significant. In mid-August, the newly built ice-strengthened LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie completed the 2,193 nautical mile voyage from Norway to South Korea via the NSR at an average speed of 14 knots in 19 days which is some 30% less time than when taking the regular route via the Suez Canal. Passage of the NSR portion of the voyage was accomplished in just 6.5 days. 

Built by Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering (DSME), South Korea
Delivered in March 2017
Owned by Sovcomflot (SCF)
Technical management: SCF Management Services (Cyprus) Ltd
LOA 299m
Beam 50m
GRT 128,806 tons
Speed 19.5 knots

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Christophe de Margerie
is the first of 15 LNG carriers specifically designed and built for the SCF Group (Sovcomflot) to serve the Yamal LNG project (picture above right) and ship LNG year-round in the difficult ice conditions of the Kara Sea and Gulf of Ob. She is designed to sail independently through ice of up to 2.1 meters thick and is assigned an ice class Arc7, the highest ice class available for a merchant vessel. Notably she is fitted with a 45 MW propulsion system, which is comparable to the capacity of a modern nuclear-powered icebreaker and she is the first vessel of this nature to incorporate three Azipod units which provide her with a unique ice-breaking capability while maintaining exceptional maneuverability.

The Yamal LNG project was developed and is operated by Novatek, Russia's largest independent natural gas producer, and the seventh largest publicly traded company globally by natural gas production volume. The Yamal plant is forecast to reach its annual production target of 16.5 million tonnes in 2018.

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Above left,  Captain Sergey Zybko, Mr. Maksim Sokolov, the Russian Minister of Transport and Mr. Leonid Mikhelson, the owner of Novatek, speak with President Vladimir Putin from the vessel’s bridge via a video link. President Putin attended the naming ceremony at the Bronka deepwater port in St Petersburg in June this year. After initially abandoning the idea, Russia has recently re-announced plans to sell a stake in state owned Sovcomflot within this year. A sale would help to lift state revenues but could also assist in modernization of the corporate management culture after sanctions were imposed over the occupation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine in 2014.

Christophe de Margerie
is named after the Chairman and CEO of the French oil corporation Total S.A. (picture above right) who died in a plane crash in Moscow’s Vnukovo airport in 2014. He was described by President Putin at the naming ceremony as “having possessed a unique strategic vision and did much to strengthen friendly, partnership relations with Russia, while being the driving force behind the implementation of a range of large joint energy projects. Naming the ship in his honour serves as another symbol of our sincere and kind disposition to this outstanding man, and as a commemoration of his memory.”

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

Thursday, 24 August 2017 08:09

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Saturday August 19 was a milestone event for the Corporation of Delta with the Dedication Ceremony of the Delta Lifeboat (renamed from Steveston Lifeboat). The event was attended by a number of dignitaries including Delta Mayor Lois Jackson; Chief Administration Officer, Mr. George Harvie; The Honourable Carla Qualtrough. MP Delta; Mr. Ian Paton, MLA Delta South; Mr. Neil Dubord, Delta Chief Constable and the Directors of the Canadian Lifeboat Institute to whom the Delta Lifeboat is chartered. The formal Dedication and Blessing was conducted by Reverend Peter Smyth, Senior Port Chaplain, Mission to Seafarers, Vancouver.


Built in Pearl Harbour, Oahu, Hawaii, in 1944
LOA 15.8m
Beam 3.8m
Displacement 30 tonnes
Construction: mahogany and fire on oak frames
Engine: Single Detroit 671 diesel, 157 SHP
Speed: 10 knots
Range: 1000 nautical miles
Standard complement: 7 crew
Navigation: Integrated suite of navigation and communications systems
Tender: 3.3m RHIB with 20HP outboard carried on deck
Fire-fighting: Foam and fire hose
Towing capable


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The Delta Lifeboat was built for the U.S. Navy as an Admiral’s Barge and reportedly served several  Admirals including Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas, during World War II. Her life saving career began in 1988 when she was purchased by her current owners and updated as a Search and Rescue vessel. For many years she has operated out of Steveston Harbour as an escort vessel for recreational events, in addition to escorting deep sea and other commercial vessels, especially  in the Fraser River during the traditional gillnet salmon fishing season.


The Delta Lifeboat is owned by renowned marine artist and Captain George Vancouver historian, Mr. John Horton and his wife Mary. At the age of 16, John Horton was already a Volunteer Reservist aboard HMS Wessex and when the opportunity came, he joined the Royal Navy, serving in the Pacific, witnessing hydrogen bomb tests, the Atlantic, and also in the Arctic undertaking fishery protection patrols during the so called “Cod War” with Iceland. Following naval service, John returned to his love of painting but in 1966, he packed up his young family and emigrated to Vancouver. Within weeks of arrival, he had set up his architectural rendering practice in the Marine Building, held an exhibition at the Bayshore Inn and was promptly deluged with clients. He never looked back and today his marine paintings can be found in almost any office or home in Canada and in galleries around the globe. In 2002 he accepted the Canadian government’s invitation to record Canada’s navy in action in the Arabian Gulf during operation Apollo, the codename for an operation conducted by Canadian forces in support of the United States during that country’s early military engagement in Afghanistan.


From December 2014 until the Spring of 2017, the Delta Lifeboat was out of service following an incident on the Fraser River. However, not only was she repaired, the break in service allowed her to be fully refitted and electronically upgraded in preparation for her return to service – a major undertaking for which John and Mary deserve immense credit. Picture above centre, to the right of the podium is Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, CLI President Mr. Bob McIlwaine and Delta Chief Administration Officer, Mr. George Harvie. Above right, is John Horton formally receiving the Delta flag from Bob McIlwaine.


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Picture above: The CLI’s Fraser Lifeboat leading the way into Ladner Harbour on August 19 followed by the Delta Lifeboat and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) hovercraft Siyay commanded by Capt. Tom Moxey from CCG Base Sea Island.


Founded in 1981, the Canadian Lifeboat Institution (CLI) is a registered charity. Both the Delta Lifeboat and the Fraser Lifeboat (based in Steveston) are manned by volunteer crews from all walks of life, including former seafarers, who give their time to the cause of marine safety. The CLI also partners with the VFPA Marine Emergency Response Coordination Committee (MERCC) and the FishSafe BC Advisory Committee. The Institution works closely with the CCG, regularly participating in joint exercises, in addition to the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR). The Institution is funded by corporate and personal donations without direct government funding. Since its formation, CLI has logged more than 4,000 incidents and has contributed to the saving of a number of lives.


Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd., CLI Director and Chair, Mission to Seafarers, Vancouver.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017 08:55

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The Isle of Man registered Supramax bulk carrier Catherine Manx is part of a package of 5 ship purchases announced by Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd. last week. The package include three recently built Supramaxes, one new Supramax to be delivered in 2018 and one recently built handysize.


Built by Tsuneishi Shipbuilding, Zhoushan, PRC, in 2014
Owned and operated by LTU Management, Douglas, Isle of Man, UK
LOA 190m
Beam 32m
GRT 32,360 tons
DWT 57,964 MT
Class NK
Flag: Isle of Man, UK


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Privately held Uglands Rederi, headquartered in Grimstad, Norway, was established in 1930 by ship owner Johan Ugland. Following his death in 1960, his sons Johan and Andreas Ugland assumed control and today, his grandson, Knut N.T. Ugland, is the sole owner of the company. The fleet currently comprises 17 bulk carriers, 5 tankers and 2 offshore service vessels supported by business interests in the operation of tugs and barges. Registered owner and manager of Catherine Manx, LTU Management, is a division LT Ugland Shipping based in the Isle of Man.


Situated in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is not formally part of the UK but is a self-governing Crown dependency and makes its own laws and sets its own taxes. A full Maritime Convention nation with a Shipping Register that has existed since 1786, the Isle of Man is also a prominent international finance centre and offshore insurance centre with stringent regulatory controls under its own Financial Supervision Commission. The Isle of Man ship register is now the 12th largest in the world and continues to grow with some 60% of its registered tonnage being under Asian control.


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited claims to be the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world, celebrating its 187th anniversary this year. The company provides freight, passenger and vehicle services between Douglas in the Isle of Man and five ports in the UK through its subsidiary Manx Ferries.


Under the ownership of Pacific Basin, Catherine Manx will be renamed Pelican Island.


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


Wednesday, 09 August 2017 09:12

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Some of you may have taken time out in the past couple of weeks to see the new movie, Dunkirk. The movie tells the story of the “Little Ships of Dunkirk” when about 850 private boats sailed from Ramsgate in England to the beaches of Dunkirk between May 26 and June 4 1940 as part of so called Operation Dynamo to rescue British, French and Belgian soldiers who were trapped on the beaches by the advancing German army. Because of the shallow waters, British naval craft were unable to approach the beaches, hence the desperate order to assemble a fleet of pleasure craft. Many were requisitioned and manned by the navy without their owners' permission but a few were volunteered on condition that their owners would sail them to Dunkirk. When they reached France, some of the boats acted as shuttles between the beaches and naval vessels while others carried hundreds of soldieors each back to Ramsgate under the make-shift protection of the Royal Air Force. The operation saved about
200,000 British, 130,000 French and 10,000 Belgian troops. Sadly, 60,000 troops could not be evacuated and were captured or killed.

One such “Little Ship” was the paddle steamer Medway Queen
which somehow made seven round trips to Dunkirk, rescuing 7,000 men in the process and earning herself the nickname Heroine of Dunkirk. Although seriously damaged during the seventh crossing, she limped home and is still with us today.

Built by Ailsa Shipyard, in Troon, Scotland in 1924
Owned by the new Medway Steam Packet Company, based in Rochester on the River Medway, England
Returned to cruising after the war for the General Steam Navigation Co who had taken over the New Medway company
1966 - Saved from the breakers and opened as a marina clubhouse on the Isle of Wight
1984 - Returned to the Medway on a floating pontoon and berthed at Chatham
2006 – Dismantled for rebuilding
2009 - Completed hull with refurbished engine to await conditions for a tow to Gillingham

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A major boost to saving Medway Queen from razor blades was received in 2006 when, after several failed attempts to obtain funding from the UK's Heritage Fund, a grant of just over GBP 1.86 m was awarded. The grant, alongside Medway Queen Preservation Society’s own funds allowed restoration to go ahead. The existing hull was dismantled with all usable parts put into storage and structural members reused where possible. In 2008 a contract was awarded to rebuild the hull in traditional riveted form after the resolution of problems arising from a conflict between the need for a "heritage" rebuild and the need to incorporate updated construction practices.

In May 1965 to mark the 25th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, a fleet of 43 of the original “Little Ships” returned to Dunkirk to commemorate the evacuation. It was subsequently decided that such a unique assembly should not be allowed to fade into obscurity and the “Association of Dunkirk Little Ships” was formed in 1966. The stated objective of the Association was to maintain the spirit of Dunkirk and to preserve the memory of the role of the Little Ships by forming an association of their present-day owners and of those closely associated. Still today, over 100 Little Ships are entitled to display a plaque marked “DUNKIRK 1940”. Every five years, supported by the RNLI and Royal Navy, they return under their own power to Dunkirk, a major undertaking considering that the average age of the craft is now 85 years. The Association plans to return to Dunkirk in May 2020 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo with around 50 Little Ships expected to take part.

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UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill initially described the situation in Dunkirk as a “colossal military disaster” but following the success of the evacuation revised his assessment as a “miracle of deliverance”. Medway Queen is today moored at Gillingham Pier in the County of Kent UK and is open for viewing on most Saturdays.

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

Friday, 04 August 2017 09:48

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Expedition cruise ship Bremen

Sitting quietly at the north end of Canada Place on Monday this week preparing for an 18 day cruise to Nome in Alaska was Hapag Lloyd’s expedition cruise ship Bremen. She is one of four specialized cruise ships operated by the company, the others being Europa, Europa 2 and Hanseatic.

Built by Mitsubishi Shipyard, Kobe, Japan in 1990
Owned and operated by Hapag Lloyd Cruises
LOA 111.5m
Beam 17m
GRT 6,752 tons
Propulsion 2 × Daihatsu 8 km-32 (2 × 2,427 kW) connected to 2 shafts and 2 x controllable pitch propellers
Speed 16 knots
Passenger capacity 164
Crew: approximately 100
Previous name: Frontier Spirit (2000-2003)

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Bremen is the smallest ship in Hapag Lloyd's cruise fleet, but arguably the most versatile by way of having an impressive E4 ice rating, thereby equipping her to safely navigate the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. Bremen provides a contingent of 12 zodiacs (pictures above left and right) allowing her guests to explore virtually any inlet at any time of the day during her high activity cruises.

In 2003, Bremen identified a previously uncharted island in Antarctica which was appropriately named "Bremen Island" the following year. In 2006, helped by satellite images of sea ice, she sailed the Northwest Passage, a route she will take again In late August this year when she will cruise from Nome via the Northwest Passage to Kangerlussuag in Greenland. She will then make a number of cruises as she heads south for Antarctica with a Christmas call scheduled for the Falkland Islands.

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There were two previous Bremens in the German merchant fleet, the first of which was completed in 1929 and which was lost when deliberately set ablaze by a crew member in 1941 while serving as a barracks ship in Bremerhaven. The second was completed in 1939 for Sudatlantique, Bordeaux as the SS Pasteur and in 1940 made a last minute escape ahead of the invading German forces with 200 tons of French gold bullion reserves to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Requisitioned by the UK and operated by Cunard she became a hospital troopship, carrying 300,000 Allied troops around the globe including supplying troops to the Battle of El Alamein. Post-war she remained in French military service from 1945-56, carrying French troops to Vietnam, Algeria, and during the Suez Crisis.

Following lay-up, she was sold to the North German Lloyd Line, refitted and renamed Bremen in 1957. The sale sparked protests in France but to no avail. In 1971 she was sold to Chandris Lines of Greece, the predecessor to Celebrity Cruises. Under Chandris she operated cruises as the Regina Magna (picture above right) until 1974.

Thursday, 27 July 2017 16:18

469 USSRGeraldFord1

With the role of aircraft carriers much in the news in recent months, the United States Navy achieved a significant milestone when after four years of delays, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding, delivered the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) on May 31 following successful completion of final sea trials only the week previously. She was formally commissioned on July 22 at a ceremony held at the Norfolk Naval Station attended by President Trump. USS Gerald R. Ford is the lead ship of its class and the first new design of aircraft carrier delivered to the Navy since the first introduction of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) class in 1975. She is also the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) delivered in 2009.

Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding
Displacement approximately 100,000 MT at full load
LOA 337m
Beam at waterline 41m, flight deck 77m
Propulsion: 2 x A1B nuclear reactors coupled to four shafts
Speed: 30 knots +
Complement 508 officers & 3789 enlisted men
Aircraft 75+
Cost $12.7 Billion ($6 Billion over budget)
Sister vessels under construction & planned USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) with delivery in 2020, USS Enterprise (CVN-80) with delivery in 2025 plus 7 more which are so far unnamed.

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The new class of so called super-carriers have a hull design very similar to the Nimitz class, but importantly introduce a number of key new technologies including a revolutionary Electromagntic Aircraft Launch System and an Advanced Landing Arresting System to replace the traditional catapult launch system and wire arrester cables. The new class also has the ability to carry more aircraft, additional weapons and aviation fuel storage. Her design incorporates a new nuclear power plant and a redesigned island, which it is claimed will increase sortie rates by one-third when compared to the Nimitz class. 

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In the UK, HMS Queen Elizabeth (above left), the first of two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, undertook initial sea trials a month ago while China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning (above centre) recently paid a call at Hong Kong. Originally laid down in 1985 for the Soviet Union as the aircraft cruiser Riga, she was launched in December 1988 and renamed Varyag in 1990. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, construction was halted when 70% complete and Varyag was offered for sale as scrap by Ukraine. The stripped shell was eventually acquired by China in 1998 and towed to Dalian where she was rebuilt and converted to her current role over the course of several years. She was eventually commissioned into the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012 and in 2016 declared to be “combat ready”. China’s first home-built aircraft carrier is under construction and is expected to be followed by a series of sister vessels.

USS Gerald R. Ford honors the 38th president of the United States who came to power in August 1974 following the resignation of President Richard Nixon. President Ford became the first unelected President in U.S. history having been appointed Vice President less than a year earlier by President Nixon. He is widely credited with helping to restore public confidence in government after the disillusionment of the Watergate era.

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

Friday, 21 July 2017 10:37

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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.