Vol. 58 October 2010 No. 241 QUEEN ELIZABETH leaves South Hampton by sdsdfqw21


									Vol. 58                                 October 2010                         No. 241

          QUEEN ELIZABETH leaves South Hampton on her maiden voyage this month
          FLOTSAM & JETSAM
             The Ship Society of South Africa
                   P.O. Box 50835 Waterfront 8002

Another week, another meeting, and last Thursday’s film “Endless Voyage,” the last of the 4 disc
“Liners” series was quite superb. Such a pity then that there were so few people to appreciate it. It was a
rather cool and damp night which probably explains the low turnout, but coming on the heels of some
quiet Saturdays (rugby), it makes one take note. The films can of course be hired and watched at leisure in
the comfort of one’s own time; the guest speakers cannot - which probably explains the better turnout for
those occasions. The point is: if you’re at a loose end on a Thursday evening, pop down to the rooms,
there’s usually something interesting happening, your television won’t miss you, but your Society needs

This issue of our Journal is the first since the AGM, and the good news is that we continue to sail with
much the same Bridge team as before. Irene has stepped down due to work pressure, Rodney has given up
his seat due to living in Durbanville, and Gerald has excused himself due to other commitments. It seems
like a large broom has swept through then? In a sense it has, our Irene was very good with the purse
strings to be sure, but we still have the two indispensables: Pauline and Brendan.

Pauline, thankfully continues as before and Brendan has slipped into finance while I’ve taken over his
position, it should be a good arrangement and in the best interests of the Society at the moment. The last
few years have been very challenging as you well know; the rent, the lease and the declining membership
have all been dealt with simply because Brendan refused to let the Ship Society slide under the waves.
His immense efforts to build bridges with our Corporate members, establish an on-going relationship with
the Maritime Museum, set up our website and finance the acquisition of state of the art equipment for the
rooms is the reason we’re still resident in Duncan Road. It’s not that we don’t all do our bit, we are
involved - but he’s committed. Being an ex banker, his principle goal when taking over the chair was to
build up our cash reserves, which was achieved, but that’s only a small part of the Doyle legacy.

It’s difficult to think of another Chairman who would have put that kind of time and effort into the cause,
in fact it’s debatable whether anyone would have wanted to steer the Society through the ice field at that
time, the odds were not good. The focus now is to maintain the momentum we’ve built up. Over the last
year we acquired some very good, high value members (200 individuals is the goal) and we continue to
build our Corporate list. Unfortunately our last rental account was the highest ever so we’re never going
to be cruising, but when you see Brendan around the rooms just remember who stayed on the bridge
while the ship was listing – this was no Oceanos.                         Philip Short
Cape Town tanker basin berth goes out of commission for 3 months of repair

Aerial view of Cape Town harbour. Picture courtesy Keith Quixley: The Aerial

Cape Town’s tanker berth 1 has been taken out of service for a period of approximately three

This is to permit the renewal of loading arms and other refurbishment to take place.

Once completed the second berth at the tanker basin will be taken out of commission for similar
Cape Town Container Terminal being transformed by R5.4 billion expansion

Cape Town’s Container Terminal is continuing to be transformed by the R5.4 billion expansion
programme currently underway that will result in the cargo capacity being almost doubled by

Major dredging, deepening and refurbishment work on the second of four berths is well
underway and will be completed by May 2011. The first 100m of Berth 602 was recently handed
over to terminal operations and coupled with the already refurbished Berth 601, this affords the
terminal 420m of berth space to accommodate one large 305m vessel along its long quay.

“There have been some challenges. Most significant of these is the complexity of maintaining
uninterrupted operations at the container terminal while it is effectively a construction site,” says
Velile DubeTransnet Port Terminal’s (TPT) Western Province Terminal Executive.

“However we are well on our way towards transforming the container terminal into a modern
four berth facility that will assist in meeting the demands of the rapid growth in the container

The upgrades to all four berths and the Ben Schoeman Basin will enable larger new generation
vessels to enter and ‘park’ safely at the container facility.

Inside the terminal, the fleet of harbour cranes has been beefed up to improve the efficiency of
container handling. On Friday, 27 August, the fifth and sixth Liebherr ship- to-shore cranes were
commissioned and worked on their first vessel on Monday, 30 August. These cranes were
slipped into position on Berth 601 by specialised trailers on 13 and 14 August. With a total of six
new Liebherr cranes in place, Berth 601 offers high productivity container handling that is faster
and more efficient.

The fleet of straddle carriers in Cape Town is also being phased out in favour of rubber-tyred
gantry (RTG) cranes, which make better use of limited space by stacking six rows wide, five
containers high and 30 deep. To date 20 RTG cranes have been commissioned and handed over
to the terminal, with the remaining eight scheduled for handover between the end of September
and the end of October.

Four more RTGs and some of the straddle carriers are being transferred to Durban’s container

Refrigerated containers, or reefers, will benefit from the handing over on 26 August of 864 reefer
plug points in reefer block 1. The overall expansion programme will result in three reefer stacks
with a total of 2,712 reefer points served by gantry cranes.

Human capital development has also been a major aspect of the expansion programme. The
terminal’s new cranes necessitated an aggressive training programme for operators of lifting
equipment, with 33 operators joining operations in August and bringing the total number of
newly trained personnel to 120. Additional training in operation of ship- to-shore cranes will take
place from January 2011.

Dube said the five year expansion project is one of several Transnet projects taking place within
South Africa’s container sector, with the aim of creating additional capacity ahead of demand.
By 2012, the capacity of the Cape Town terminal will be 1.4 million TEUs, nearly double its
existing 740,000 TEU capability.
      Cruiseships: Tighter security required to prevent terrorist attacks
In a special report recently released, the US Government Accountability Office called cruise ships
"attractive terrorist targets", and advised that custom and border officials should start checking cruise
ship passenger manifests in the same way that it does for commercial airplanes.

"Cruise ships are the single largest passenger conveyances in the world, with one ship currently in
service that can carry more than 8,500 passengers and crew. The Coast Guard considers cruise ships
to be highly attractive targets to terrorists."

Although there were no credible threats last year, the report noted the presence of terrorist groups that
were, and still are capable of attacking a cruise ship. The possibility of waterside attacks and terrorists
boarding a cruise ship are concerns, according to the Coast Guard, law enforcement officials and
cruise ship and facility operators.

The report recommended that the CBP conduct a study to determine whether requiring cruise lines to
provide automated passenger name data would benefit security.

                                                       Cruise passenger Go through Screening Similar
                                                      to an Airport

Although the world changed dramatically on September 11, one thing that has not been required to
change as much as other aspects of travel is cruise ship security. That's because cruise ships have, for
the most part, always adhered to very strict security guidelines and practices. While the cruise lines
and governments around the world have tightened and refined security after the recent turn of events,
cruise ships have always been relatively secure.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, cruise lines working to US ports implemented
what they call "Level 3" security measures, as outlined by the U.S. Coast Guard's "Security for
Passenger Vessels and Passenger Terminals" regulations. These measures include:
    • Screening of all passenger baggage, carry-on luggage, ship stores and cargo; intensified
       screening of passenger lists and passenger identification
    • Restricting access to any sensitive vessel areas, such as the bridge and the engine room.
    • Implementing onboard security measures to deter unauthorized entry and illegal activity.
    • Requiring all commercial vessels to give 96 hours notice before entering U.S. ports.
       Previously, ships had to give 24 hours' notice.
    • Maintaining a 100-yard security zone around cruise ships.

Controlled Access

                                                                             One          thing       that
                                                                             contributes        to     the
                                                                             security of cruise ships
                                                                             is that it's relatively easy
                                                                             for them to move about
                                                                             and alter ports of call if
                                                                             any are deemed unsafe.
                                                                             Cruise ships are also
                                                                             relatively       easy      to
                                                                             "contain"--that is, it's
                                                                             easy to control and limit
                                                                             access to the ships.
                                                                             When a ship is in port,
                                                                             passengers and crew can
                                                                             only enter through one
                                                                             or two controlled access
                                                                             points, where ship's
                                                                             security personnel can
                                                                             check IDs, manifests and
such. Because access to the terminals and docking areas is limited as well, it's relatively tough to get
onboard if you don't belong there.

Anti-Terrorism Measures

The greatest threat to passengers and the ships themselves is terrorism. Consequently, the cruise lines
are taking preventive measures like security checks of all passengers, carry-on parcels and checked
baggage. Unlike the airlines, which only x-ray 10 to 20 percent of all checked baggage, cruise lines
have the time to thoroughly x-ray every bag that goes into the ship. All passengers and crew are now
required to pass through metal detectors before boarding. The crew and port officials also examine
every shipment of supplies that is brought aboard. When ships are in port, watches are posted on deck,
and at night, the decks are lit and ropes are let in.

The ships are also keeping records of who is aboard and not aboard at any given time, and most major
lines now have automated systems that enable security personnel to see exactly who is on the ship at
any given moment, at the touch of a button. Recently, when the Golden Princess departed the Azores
for Fort Lauderdale, it happened that two passengers had suddenly disembarked the vessel without
notice. At that point, the ship abruptly reversed course heading back for the Azores and the entire ship
was searched from stem to stern. Eventually the staff realized that there was no threat and all was
Trained Security

Security onboard varies from line to line and ship to ship. Some cruise lines hire former military and
naval personnel to implement and oversee their security, whiles others hire private security firms or
former law enforcement officers. In the past, most security measures were intended to deal with
passenger disturbances, but the focus now is on maintaining a safe and secure environment,
eliminating or minimizing the threat of harm to passengers, crew and ship. Some lines even have
dedicated security personnel whose primary job is to assess the risk potential and work with onboard
crew to make sure all the proper procedures are taken. Each port is reviewed for its history of
security-related incidents, stowaway threat, contraband threat, shore-side security operations and
equipment, and so on. Ship staffers are trained to recognize and deal with things like a crew member
being in an unauthorized area, an unfamiliar face in a crew area, a passenger in an off-limits area, or a
bag being found somewhere it should not be.

Princess Cruises and some other companies uses Gurkahs, the famed and extremely fierce Nepalese
fighters of the British Army, for its fleet wide security force. They have been in place for some time;
at last report, there were at least six on both Grand Princess and Golden Princess. Passengers often
ask if there are armed security personnel aboard.

Big Brother is Watching

Did you realize there are surveillance cameras all around you onboard ships? Security personnel,
officers, staff and crew can visually monitor virtually every area of the ship. There are cameras in the
embarkation areas; corridors; public rooms; entry points to the "out of bounds" areas for passengers
such as crew areas; machinery spaces; and even common deck areas such as the promenade and pool

Port Security Generally

Don't assume that ports outside the US are any less secure, or security conscious, than North
American ports. The UK, for instance, has laws that oblige the terminal owner / operator to take
specific actions and provide certain equipment and procedures, and require the ship owner to take
specific measures as well. As one cruise ship captain with a great deal of security experience has
stated, "European ports have always struck me as being more security conscious in general. When
sailing from countries that have had previous land-based terrorist activities, there have been more
active screening processes, identification checks, and a higher general awareness of port security. The
general level of security in the European ports, both on the northern coast and on the Mediterranean
coasts, has been fairly consistent. Most European countries have, unfortunately, been touched by
terrorism. England has dealt with the IRA, Spain with the ETA and Germany, Greece, and others have
all dealt with various threats."

What to Expect Now

There is also stricter access control to all ports and terminals: Passengers are now required to show
their tickets to enter both the port area and the terminal. Look for multiple security checkpoints: You
can expect to pass through three or four security checkpoints before being granted access to your
cruise ship.
Cruise lines are working with local, state, country and international authorities such as the port
authorities where ships call, Coast Guard, Immigration, Customs Service, Customs, police and
Interpol. This enhances the safety and security of everyone onboard cruise ships.
But - embarkation and debarkation may take longer to accommodate additional security procedures,
so plan your flights accordingly. Expect strict enforcement of required ID and nationality / travel
papers. Boarding will be denied if you don't have the proper documents. Don't expect to catch that
early morning flight home. Passengers and lines have been reporting delays in disembarking
passengers. In most cases, don't expect to be ashore before 9-10 a.m. Have patience. You may
encounter some long lines as you wait to embark or disembark.
Happy Birthday for local cruise specialists              by Terry Hutson www.ports.co.za

On Friday this week (24 September) South Africans celebrate Heritage Day and appropriately,
two family-owned companies, the Italian styled Mediterranean Shipping Company and South
Africa’s Starlight Cruises will be celebrating over 20 and 30 years respectively of successful
cruising and shipping in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.

Starlight Cruises first started operating cruises ships out of South African ports in 1978, while
MSC container ships and logistics have been operating in South Africa since 1988. The cruise
ship division of MSC has brought luxury liners to the country every summer season since 2003.

“Our combined record as the only cruise companies to operate continuously out of South African
ports over such a long period of time is an affirmation of our commitment to the growth and
prosperity of our country,” said Allan Foggitt, marketing director of Starlight Cruises, the sales
and booking agents for MSC Cruises in South Africa.“It is something we are very proud of and
Heritage Day presents the perfect opportunity for us to not only honour the diverse cultural
heritages that link our own companies but also the contribution of all South Africans to the
building of our great nation,” he said.

His sentiments are echoed by Stefano Vigoriti, managing director of MSC Cruises in South
Africa, who says the company demonstrated continued confidence in the country by deploying
MSC SINFONIA, one of the bigger and finest cruise ships in the MSC Cruises stable, to the
region last year.

MSC Sinfonia returns to Southern Africa for a second season this summer and will be
accompanied by the smaller, elegant MSC Melody cruise ship. The two ships will offer a bumper
69 departures out of local ports to present over 100,000 passengers with a greater variety of
destinations than ever before.
“Cruising is the fastest growing sector of the travel industry worldwide and a similar trend is
evident in South Africa. We are attracting increasing numbers of foreign tourists to cruise and
visit the region. We are also proud to play a positive role in sustainable job creation in related
tourism and hospitality industries,” said Vigoriti.

MSC Cruises sets the global standard for Italian style cruises. The company is the world’s fourth
largest cruise operator comprising eleven ships cruising five regions around the globe. In
addition the company employs over 12,000 people and it is present in 43 countries.

In South Africa, the container cargo division of Mediterranean Shipping Company is by far the
biggest user of local ports while MSC (Pty) Ltd is the biggest shipping organisation.

MSC Sinfonia hosts 777 cabins, of which 135 are suites with private balconies. The ship also
boasts 3 restaurants, 7 bars, 2 pools, the MSC Aurea Spa, a business and conference centre, an
internet cafe, casino, cigar room, disco, fitness centre, golf simulator, library, card room, mini
club, teen' club, exchange office and medical centre. The facilities and onboard activities allow
for travellers to tailor make their own experience whilst in the luxurious surroundings.

MSC Melody (35,143-gt) is the smallest ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet, and is designed to meet the
highest standards of Italian style and sophistication, whilst offering a relaxed and informal
cruise-ship experience. With a capacity of just over 1,500 guests, MSC Melody creates a
welcoming, almost intimate feel on board, especially being the only ship designed with family in
mind with 5-bed cabins available. Graceful public areas with grand high ceilings lend the MSC
Melody to a sense of openness with comfortable, stylish staterooms, spacious and well-
appointed. The ship' retractable, transparent Magrodome allows you to enjoy one of the two
swimming pools and whirlpools even if the skies cloud over.

Fifty years ago
October 1960      The two new passenger liners of P & O-Orient Lines – the 40,000 ton ORIANA and
                  the 45,000 ton CANBERRA, nearing completion in the yards of Vickers Armstrongs
                  (Shipbuilders) Ltd., at Barrow-in-Furness and of Harland & Wolff Ltd., at Belfast
                  respectively – are scheduled to depart on their maiden voyages within six months of
                  each other. The ORIANA, scheduled to leave Barrow for drydocking and trials on
                  October 22, will make her maiden voyage from Southampton on December 3. Her
                  route will take her to Sydney via Suez, from where she will make a short Pacific
                  cruise before she sails again from Sydney to New Zealand, Suva, Honolulu and the
                  West Coast of North America. She will return to Southampton via the same route.

                  On June 2 next year the CANBERRA will depart from Southampton to reach Sydney
                  via Suez on the 28th of the same month. She, too, will sail via New Zealand and the
                  Pacific islands to the Western seaboard of Canada and the USA and will return to the
                  UK on a similar route. The ORIANA's maiden voyage will last for over 3½ months,
                  which includes the cruise from Australia, while CANBERRA will take just under
                  three months on her round trip.

October 1960      The Queen will launch Britain's first nuclear-powered submarine,
                  DREADNAUGHT, on Trafalgar Day, October 21, sixteen months after the keel was
                  laid. Lord Carrington, First Lord of the Admiralty, recently told the House of Lords
                  that a second nuclear submarine is to be built by Britain and it was hoped to place
                  the building contract within the next few months.

October 1960      Another new cargo vessel for the Swedish Transatlantic Group is now on her maiden
                  voyage in the South African service. She is the 7,450 tons d.w. Motor ship
                  VINGAREN, which was due to arrive at Union ports about the middle of this month.
                  Delivered from the Gõtaverken yards on September 12, the VINGAREN is the 50th
                  ship built by this company for the Transatlantic group. The first ship which the yard
                  built for these owners was the steamer SKAGERN of 8,800 tons d.w. delivered in
                  1917. From the second ship – the BULLAREN of 9,250 tons d.w. delivered in 1918
                  - all have been diesel powered.

                  Several of the ships have been notable in Sweden's shipbuilding history. The motor
                  tanker BERA, with a capacity of 16,540 tons d.w. delivered in 1939 was, for
                  example, the largest ship up to that time built in Scandinavia. In 1947-1950
                  Gõtaverken delivered four 'the express cargo liners' – the NIMBUS, STRATUS,
                  CIRRUS and CUMULUS of respectively 10,000 tons d.w. These four 'flying clouds'
                  are still, with their 19½ knots fully loaded, among the fastest cargo ships afloat. The
                  Transatlantic cadet training ship G.D. KENNEDY, delivered in 1957, is also among
                  the 50 ships which aggregate 495,325 tons d.w.

                  The VINGAREN is a sister ship to the HALLAREN which was delivered from the
                  yard to the same owners in March this year. The main dimensions of the
                  VINGAREN are :
                  Length overall 467 ft. 6 in.; Length between p.p. 430 ft. 0 in.; Breadth moulded
                  65 ft. 0in.; Depth moulded to main deck 29 ft. 0 in.; Depth moulded to shelter deck
                  39 ft. 0 in.; Draught on summer freeboard 23 ft. 9 in.; Capacity for general cargo,
                  deep tanks excluded 471,000 cu. ft. grain; Capacity for refrigerated cargo …....about
                  81,000 cu. ft. bale; Deadweight on summer freeboard 7,450 tons; Gross tonnage
                  6,702 reg. Tons.

October 1960      On Friday, September 23, the 20,000 ton WINCHESTER CASTLE completed her
                  final voyage in the Union-Castle South African mail service when she docked at
                  Southampton with nearly 500 passengers on board. After her cargo had been
                discharged she sailed from Southampton early in October for Mihara in Japan,
                where she will be broken up. Although unable to offer all the amenities of the later
                vessels in the fleet, the WINCHESTER CASTLE enjoyed considerable popularity
                with many regular travellers, who will regret her departure to the shipbreakers. Built
                in Belfast by Harland & Wolff Ltd., the WINCHESTER CASTLE came into service
                towards the end of 1930, followed a few months later by her sister ship, the
                WARWICK CASTLE. They were the last of the two-funnel ships, for the
                STIRLING CASTLE the next of the mailships, had only one funnel, as have all the
                later ships.

                In 1936 a faster mail service to South Africa was inaugurated and to enable them to
                take their part in this speeded up service five of the mailships, including the
                WINCHESTER CASTLE, were in turn sent to Belfast to be re-engined and
                modified. When in 1938 the WINCHESTER CASTLE returned to service her two
                squat funnels had been replaced by one large funnel, gracefully raked. The South
                African mail service is noted for its regularity but with the outbreak of war in 1939,
                this regularity disappeared, and the WINCHESTER CASTLE visited many unusual
                countries and served in many strange capacities.

                In May 1941, she was at Glasgow. After loading battle equipment and embarking
                Royal Marines, in company with other ships, she sailed for Lock Fyne, where 14 of
                her lifeboats were replaced by LCA's (landing craft assault). For nearly a year she
                remained in Scottish waters, coming under the command of Combined Operations.
                In March 1942, with men from a commander unit and infantrymen of the East
                Lancashire Regiment on board, the WINCHESTER CASTLE joined a great troop
                convoy, heavily escorted, and sailed for Madagascar. She became Headquarters ship
                and arrived off Madagascar in May. A radio transmitter was fitted up aboard, and
                cabin 136 became Radio Diego Suarez.

                Later in the same year, after taking troops to Bombay for the Burma campaign and
                returning to Britain with a full complement of troops from America, the
                WINCHESTER CASTLE returned to Loch Fyne, preparing for an even more
                important expeditiion. When at the end of October 1942, a huge convoy left for the
                landings in North Africa, the WINCHESTER CASTLE was one of the ships in the
                convoy, having on board commando troops and American Rangers. Two further
                combined operations saw her present, the first at Sicily landings when she brought
                men from the 8th Army in Egypt. Her final assignment came when she took part in
                the landings on the South Coast of France. The war over, the WINCHESTER
                CASTLE continued in Government Service for some time, eventually proceeding to
                Belfast for a major refit. In 1949 she returned to take her place once again in the
                South African mail service.

November 1960   When the CARNARVON CASTLE called at Union ports last month many people,
                familiar with the old ship's lines, felt there was something changed. They were
                correct, for the well raked mainmast was only a stump of what it has been for the
                past 30 years, and the dual houseflags were fluttering from the foremast instead of
                the mainmast head. The first impression was that it had been the victim of some
                violent storm or other disturbance. But the real explanation of the shortening of the
                mast was simple. Due to the fact that the high cranes which have been installed at
                Southampton and Union ports could not conveniently plumb the hatch immediately
                below the foot of the mainmast, it was shortened by 36 ft.

November 1960   Work was started on a £260,000 project which is expected to be completed at the end
                of next year, to enable big ships to be drydocked with greater safety in the Sturrock
                Graving Dock at Cape Town. The step was decided on to overcome the difficulty of
                drydocking the big tankers, which have now become regular callers at Table Bay,
                during high winds. Many tests were carried out to determine the best solution, and
                it was decided to build a 900 feet lead-in wharf from the entrance to the dock. This
                facility will make it comparatively easy to bring ships to the wharf, with the aid of
                tugs, and thereafter warp them into the dry dock by means of winches and capstans.

                According to South African Railways News, the design chosen for the wharf is the
                concrete caisson type using caissons which are 36 ft. long and 22 ft. wide, each
                divided into eight compartments. Each caisson is built to a height of 43 ft. in the
                graving dock, before being floated. Climbing steel shutters 6 ft. high are used. To
                ensure that the caissons will float when the dock is flooded, and are not held to the
                floor by suction, they are built on a porous bed of stone, the surface of which is
                grouted. The caissons are being constructed in batches of six, but are floated one at
                a time, and towed to the site where they are carefully lined up before being sunk on a
                prepared foundation, which is excavated to rock by a grab dredger, the final cleaning
                up being done by an air lift pump. Once this is done a stone bed is laid and carefully
                levelled. After sinking the caisson on this foundation, the stone is grouted with
                colgrout through pipes in the floor of the caisson, which forms a solid foundation
                and prevents any further settling or movement.

                The comparments of the caisson are filled to – 1.5 feet below L.W.O.S.T. with sand.
                To complete the caisson to wharf height, a mass concrete capping is added, in which
                is included a tunnel for the various services such as water, oil, power, telephone
                cables and compressed air. It is intended to equip the wharf with bollards on both
                sides, so that apart from serving as a lead-in wharf, the eastern side can be used as a
                repair berth. The fendering will be the standard roller type fenders, as used in the
                harbour, and will consist of motor car tyres, stuffed with old coir ropes, carried on a
                timber baulk, and suspended by chains at three points on the wharf face. These have
                proved most economical and effective, even under excessive range conditions. The
                fender treatment at the end of the wharf will be different, in that the curved portion is
                to be protected by a combination of tubular and square rubber fenders. Two 20-ton
                capstans will be installed at the end, and the middle of the wharf, to facilitate the
                warping in process.

November 1960   Another new ship has been placed on the Royal Interocean Lines service between the
                Union, Australia and New Zealand. She is the 7,544 ton STRAAT CUMBERLAND
                which called at Durban on her maiden voyage last month under the command of
                Capt. P. Algra. One of four sister ships of the 'C' class, she follows the STRAAT
                CLEMENT and STRAAT CLARANCE. Next year the fourth and last of the
                quartette, the STRAAT CHATHAM, will be launched. Typical of the latest additions
                ….... the STRAAT CUMBERLAND has accommodation of a high standard for 12
                passengers and a service speed of more than 16 knots. She is airconditioned
                throughout all her accommodation and, in addition to a large dry cargo space, had
                45,000 cubic feet of refrigerated space for the carriage of perishable goods …..

November 1960   The Amerian luxury passenger liner ARGENTINA called at Cape Town and Durban
                last month. She is owned by Moore-McCormack Lines and was on a 21,238 mile
                'sea-safari', calling at 19 ports in four continents. Although the ship has accommo-
                dation for 553 passengers, she is carrying only 120 on this trip. According to
                Commodore Thomas N. Simmons, Master of the ARGENTINA, many cancellations
                were due to the political disturbances in the Congo and elsewhere in Africa, even
                though the ship did not call at any of the trouble-spots. While crossing the Atlantic
                the ARGENTINA encountered bad weather when the Denny-Brown stabilisers with
                which she is fitted proved very effective, reducing the ship's roll to about five
                degrees even in the heaviest seas …..

November 1960   The Chief Engineer, Mr. S.C. Logan, and three other engineer officers were killed
                instantly when an explosion in one of the two main engines disabled the Union-
                Castle mailship CAPETOWN CASTLE at Las Palmas. Two other engineer officers
                and a greaser/cleaner died later of injuries received in the explosion and the fire that
                followed it. The cause of the explosion will be the subject of an inquiry to be con-
                ducted in the United Kingdom and full details will not be available until this is held.
                It has been revealed, however, that the explosion occurred in the air starting system
                and caused hot lubricating oil to spill over part of the engine room where it caught
                fire. This was quelled by partial flooding. The explosion occurred in the early
                morning of October 17. The 27,002-ton mailship had arrived from Cape Town and
                was starting her main engines to move into Las Palmas harbour. Passengers were
                taken off the ship to the southbound mailship WINDSOR CASTLE and were later
                accommodated ashore. Some were then flown to Britain and others were picked up
                by the following mailship PENDENNIS CASTLE.

                After the CAPETOWN CASTLE had been towed into the harbour, power for her
                refrigeration plant and essential services was first supplied from the cargo liner
                ROTHESAY CASTLE but was later laid on from the shore. It is not known how
                long the CAPETOWN CASTLE will be out of service and her place on the weekly
                mail run has been taken by the intermediate passenger liner BRAEMAR CASTLE
                and the cargo vessel ROWALLAN CASTLE. The BRAEMAR CASTLE sailed
                from Southampton for Cape Town on November 3, was due to arrive on November
                18 and will call at Port Elizabeth and Durban. She will sail from Cape Town on
                December 2. S.C. Logan, Chief Engineer; D. Cameron, Senior Second Engineer; G.
                Banks, Junior Seond Engineer and M. Byrne, Junior Engineer, were killed in the
                explosion. J.C. Burton, First Engineer; B.L.E. Hartt, Junior Engineer and B. Ferrier,
                Greaser/Cleaner, died later from their injuries. Four engineer officers and two
                greaser/cleaners were injured.

December 1960   Table Bay Harbour and its facilities have made such a favourable impression on the
                engineers and other technicians of the United States missile research ship
                AMERICAN MARINER that the vessel may become an important regular customer
                of this port or Durban during 1961. The AMERICAN MARINER, a converted
                Liberty-type vessel carrying electronic equipment worth more than £12,000,000,
                called at Cape Town early in November for a general overhaul of her main engine,
                the modification of part of her accommodation, and for the installation of special
                low-frequency radar equipment. Engineers of the ship told the South African
                Shipping News that even before they arrived in Cape Town they had been welcomed
                by the South African Air Force which had assisted them throughout their stay in port.
                The General Post Office had also been a 'great help' and the Port Captain and his
                staff had given the ship every facility it required.

                According to Mr. John O'Shea, Director of Operations, and to the Master, Captain
                Philip Beck, a very competent job had been done by the Globe Engineering Works
                Ltd., in overhauling the ship's reciprocating steam engine and in the installation of
                the 28 ft. diameter scanner for the new radar …..

Sixty years ago

October 1950    Bulk cargoes of timber continue to arrive at Buffalo Harbour, East London, from
                overseas. The KAAPLAND, LIMBURG and KENILWORTH CASTLE are a few of
                the large number of vessels that have landed this valuable commodity in recent
                weeks. Buffalo Harbour is a popular port for importers of timber from the Baltic
                owing to the substantial saving in freight and rail charges. Before the close of the
                citrus season during the middle of October 650,000 cases of citrus will have been
                exported through Buffalo Harbour. This is an increase of 250,000 cases over last
                year's figures. Next year if conditions are favourable it is expected that one million
                cases will be exported.
October 1950    The mailship PRETORIA CASTLE made history at Buffalo Harbour on October 2
                when she landed the largest cargo ever brought to this port by a mailship, The cargo
                totalled over 1,400 tons and consisted mainly of parts for the Car Distributors
                Assembly Limited which assembles Standard Vanguards, among other makes, at its
                factory at Gately Township.Included in the PRETORIA CASTLE's cargo was a large
                quantity of cargo for Rhodesia and the Reef. Before the war the mailships landed
                cargoes varying from 100 to 300 tons but since the war they have increased weekly.
                With the advent of the wool season there is no shortage of railway trucks to transport
                cargoes from the ships and harbour area to inland destinations.

November 1950   The first part of the £250,000 contract, undertaken in Durban by the largest marine
                engineering firm in South Africa, was successfully completed in September when the
                British India liner ARONDA, returned to her East African cruise service after having
                been converted from a coal-burning to an oil-burning steamer. James Brown Ltd.,
                are now working on her sister ship AMRA. The story of the biggest ship conversion
                contract ever to be carried out in South Africa started in 1947 when the British India
                Steam Navigation Company Ltd., owners of the passenger liners AMRA and
                ARONDA, requested the builders to investigate the possibility of converting the
                ships from mechanical stoker coal firing to a pressure oil system of firing.

                The AMRA and ARONDA, built in 1938 and 1941 by Swan Hunter & Wigham
                Richardson Ltd., of Newcastle-on-Tyne, are ships of 8,396 gross tons with
                accommodation for 126 first class passengers. Powered by twin turbines, supplied
                by the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Co. Ltd., their steam is provided by three
                Babcock & Wilcox boilers working at 450 lbs. per sq. in. pressure with superheaters
                to give a steam temperature of 740ºF. The boilers were arranged to burn Indian coal
                by means of Erith-Roe electrically-operated pusher-type mechanical stokers; coal
                and clinker breaking units were integral with the boiler fitting plant. Indian coal had,
                however, risen steeply in price and in India coal was almost as expensive as bunker
                oil. Also, the Company had introduced the KAMPALA and KARANJA, two new
                oil-burning, turbine-powered liners, to the India-South Africa service and the AMRA
                and ARONDA were to be taken off the run in 1949 to inaugurate an East African
                cruise service between Durban and Mombasa.

                The service entailed calls at most of the intermediate ports on the East Coast with a
                few days' sailing between each call. The ships, however, were not adapted to make
                use of the mechanical coal-loading plant at Durban and would have had to bunker en
                route with attendant delays and discomfort to the passengers. Oil burning with all its
                advantages of rapid bunkering and cleanliness was therefore decided on. Swan
                Hunter & Wigham Richardson placed the results of their investigations before the
                owners in January 1948 and South African ship-repairers first came into the picture
                when Sir William C. Currie, G.B.E., Chairman of the British Indian Steam
                Navigation Co., together with his technical advisers, visited Durban on their way
                back to Britain after completing a survey of the East African coastal trade. At that
                particular time British shipyards and engine works were still busily occupied in
                converting war auxiliary vessels back to peace-time duties and the fitting-out
                facilities of the engine departments (invariably the bottleneck in a shipyard) were
                fully engaged. This factor, coupled with the advantages of keeping the vessels on
                their trading run, probably encouraged the owners to make enquiries as to whether
                repair establishments in South Africa could carry out the work efficiently.

                During Sir William Currie's visit, James Brown Ltd., who were and still are carrying
                out all repairs in Durban to the Company's ships, came under particular scrutiny.
                This firm had been established in Durban since 1878 and, as a result of their
                progressive policy of developing their ship-repairing and engineering potential by
                engaging administrators, foremen and officials steeped in the shipbuilding, marine
                engineering and ship repair industries of Great Britain, they were quite willing to
                      undertake the conversion contract when first approached by W. Dunn & Co., the
                      company's Durban agents, in August 1948 …..

December 1950         During a period of intense activity over the past three months, Gearing & Jameson
                      Ltd., Cape Town marine engineers, finished off complete overhauls to 19 whale
                      catchers which wintered in Table Bay Harbour, carried out repairs to some 40
                      catchers passing through the port on their way to the Antarctic, and also repaired the
                      engines of four large motorships.

                                              Tanker Breakdown

                      The first of these motorships was the tanker EDWARD F, JOHNSON which was
                      forced to put into Simon's Bay in August when she had a complete breakdown in
                      her piston cooling system. Gearing & Jameson carried out temporary repairs to
                      enable the ship to travel to Table Bay Harbour where Nos. 2, 4 and 5 pistons of her
                      main engine were removed and dismantled. 12 steel insert pipes on the piston
                      cooling system were repaired and 14 heavy gauge copper vertical pipes and seven
                      new 'S' pipes were made and installed by the firm. The engine was re-assembled and
                      the job completed three days after the ship had arrived in port.

                      In the following months the 4,913 ton Swedish liner KOOKABURRA had trouble
                      with her 7-cylinder main engine when an exhaust piston side-rod broke off at the
                      neck and another fracture occurred at the foot of the connecting rod where it joins
                      the eccentric. As the yoke came up to the top of the stroke it broke the cast iron
                      exhaust sealing collar. The ship could not wait for a new collar to be cast so Gearing
                      & Jameson fabricated one in mild steel. By working day and night the firm did all
                      the repairs and had the ship away in 70 hours.

                                        Cylinder Liners Replaced

                      In October the liner KANANGOORA put in with cracked liners in Nos. 1 and 4
                      cylinders of the starboard main engine. New liners had been sent from overseas and,
                      with the old liners and their jackets, were taken to the Gearing & Jameson
                      workshops. Here the old liners were removed, the landing faces on the jackets
                      machined, and the new liners ground in and fitted. The ship was able to sail five
                      days after the job started.

                       When the engineers complained of a knock in the 8-cylinder main engine of
                      ROXBURGH CASTLE, Gearing & Jameson, after a thorough examination, found
                      that all the main bearings needed remetalling. This was done by the firm in Cape
                      Town …..

Reproduced by courtesy of The South African Shipping News and Fishing Industry Review
Compiled by John Bailey.


Struggling shipbuilders
Hard yards

Europe’s shipbuilders may break out of the doldrums before Asia’s

                                                     Ferries to the rescue

FOR those who regard the smashing of a champagne bottle as a tragic waste, the problems facing the
world’s shipbuilders are excellent news. It takes such a long time to construct huge ocean-going
container ships, bulk carriers and oil tankers that the vast shipyards of South Korea, China and Japan
will still be cracking bottles of bubbly over newly launched ships for a couple of years yet. But once
these vessels, ordered in the boom before the financial crisis, are in the water, the course ahead looks
rocky. Oddly, Europe’s shipyards, although still storm-lashed after 30 years of low-cost competition
from Asia, seem to face a slightly brighter horizon.

Fresh orders for the world’s shipyards are at a low ebb. Last year they were more than 80% lower
than in 2007, when sky-high freight rates and cheery economic forecasts encouraged shipping
companies to scramble for new vessels. The subsequent recession in the rich world sent shipping rates
tumbling. A swift rebound is unlikely: despite more scrapping and some cancellations, hundreds of
ships are poised to hit the oceans this year.

Asia’s shipyards, streamlined and efficient, concentrate on building large, standardised ships. These
are the sort in greatest oversupply. South Korea’s shipyards won over half of global orders for new
ships in the first quarter of 2010, but they were worth just $2.2 billion. In 2008 Korean yards won
orders worth $32 billion. Hyundai Heavy Industries, one of four big Korean shipbuilders, has not won
a single order for a ship since late 2008.

European shipbuilders are suffering from a dearth of new orders too. The Odense shipyard owned by
A.P. Moller-Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shippers, has an illustrious history: it produced the
world’s biggest container ship. But cheap Asian competition for this type of vessel has holed it below
the waterline. It will close in 2012.

Europe’s ship makers are turning to national governments and the European Union for help, claiming
that their industry is close to collapse. In early April representatives from nine EU countries called for
an emergency programme to support the industry. Shipyards want help in gaining access to credit
lines and soft loans, as well as rules to promote greener ships. This would support them until shipping
finance recovers and hesitant customers regain faith in the world economy.

Yet the restructuring forced by low-cost Asian competitors has left Europe’s shipyards with some
advantages. Their revenues of 30 billion-40 billion ($40 billion-53 billion) a year come mainly from
niche markets which are not suffering from as much overcapacity as the mainstream.

Cruise ships are a particular specialty, and the market is growing. Four orders have been placed with
European yards this year, compared with one in 2009. Ferries, another area of European dominance,
are also in demand, and ageing ferry fleets in the Mediterranean are due for replacement soon. The
offshore wind farms sprouting around the continent provide another opportunity. Europe’s ship
makers are adept at designing cable-laying ships and other service vessels. And as oil firms are forced
to drill in ever deeper waters, ships suited to the task of towing and maintaining new rigs will be

Pressure to make ships greener will also favour European shipyards. The International Maritime
Organisation is discussing regulations that may force ships to belch out less carbon dioxide, and has
introduced tighter limits on other pollutants. Europe leads in this type of technology, too. European
ship makers will also benefit from plans to encourage greater use of the continent’s inland waterways
to ship goods instead of hauling them by road. If they can weather the current storm, Europe’s
shipyards may yet resound again to the smashing of bottles.

The Economist
                                       UNION CASTLE


Gold bullion worth millions of rands was loaded on the weekly mail ship in Durban for shipment to
Britain. Once the quay had been cleared of all people, a steam locomotive pulled armoured railway
coaches carrying the gold on to the quay. South African Reserve Bank officials and a special unit of
the South African Railways Police guarded the consignment which usually consisted of about 500
boxes, each with two ingots. The chief officer was responsible for loading the gold into the ship’s
bullion room, a large specially fortified strong room off number three hold. Besides the chief officer,
in attendance were the purser and extra second officer who, with the Reserve Bank men, did the
tallying of the gold, while the fourth officer was in the bullion room. Immediately the gold had been
stowed, the bullion room was sealed in the presence of the master, chief officer, purser, extra second
officer and the bank officials, and a police guard was mounted during the ship’s stay in South African
ports. The master and purser each kept one of the keys to the room, and on arrival in Southampton had
to unlock the bullion room in the presence of officials from the Bank of England. A senior Union-
Castle representative and specially chosen underlings, for whom the selection was both an honour and
an opportunity to escape the office for two days, were also present when the gold was offloaded under
strict security before anyone went ashore. Special cargo slings were used for the operation. As in
Durban, the wharf was cleared of people before the precious consignment was put into two armoured
railway trucks which                                                        were attached to the back
of a London bound train.                                                    Once the gold had been
delivered to the bank of                                                    England later that day,
Union-Castle’s                                                              responsibility      ended,
leaving two young clerks                                                    to experience the delights
of      London       before                                                 returning to Southampton
on the morning train.

It is said that on one                                                     occasion, the two bullion
trucks were uncoupled                                                      erroneously from the
London bound train at                                                      Basingstoke by a shunter,
ignorant of their contents.                                                Naturally, there was dire
consternation when the                                                     train reached London
without the gold; an immediate search located the two trucks in a siding, with the gold still onboard.
On another occasion the disappearance of twenty gold bars led to an international hunt involving
British and South African police and Interpol.

With the usual security measures in force, gold worth R16 million in 893 boxes had been put on board
Capetown Castle in Durban in January 1965. Because this was an abnormally large shipment – a
result of South Africa wishing to take advantage of a rising gold price – some gold could not be
accommodated in the usual bullion room and had to be placed in an adjacent compartment, normally
used to carry special items of mail or other high tariff freight, such as export clothing. For this
valuable cargo of gold, the compartment had been specially reinforced and the door had been welded
                                 Capetown Castle near Cape Town

The ship called at all South African ports, including Mossel Bay, and early in February arrived at
Southampton via Las Palmas. When the strong rooms were opened, twenty gold bars, packed two to a
box and worth R200,000, were found to have been stolen. Southampton Police requested the aid of
their South African colleagues, who launched extensive inquiries at each port where the vessel had

Even Las Palmas was considered a likely place for the gold to have been smuggled off the ship.
Passengers and crew on the southbound Windsor Castle, which had been in the island port at the same
time as the northbound Capetown Castle, were quizzed by Cape Town police. They were particularly
interested in the presence of a grey Rolls Royce that had been parked near the berth occupied by the
Capetown Castle during her short stay to take on bunkers.

In Southampton, police interviewed hundreds of passengers, crew members and dockers; they
inspected every possible place on board the liner where the gold could have been secreted and even
opened hundreds of crates of South African fruit which the liner had brought to Britain. Meanwhile,
the press were making a meal of the theft. International syndicates, shady masterminds and references
to previously planned heists featured in speculative newspaper reports.

When the Capetown Castle was due to leave on her next southbound voyage, the police set up an
office on board to continue their shipboard enquiries, particularly their interviewing of those crew
members who had served in the ship on her previous voyage.

The painstaking police work finally paid off. Two crew members who had not returned to the ship had
broken under police interrogation in Britain. Their modus operandi was as simple as it was hard to
believe. They had crawled through a ventilation shaft, removed a grill to gain access to the mailroom,
and then cut a hole in the deck head of the temporary bullion room. Ten boxes, each containing two
gold ingots, had to be manhandled back along the ventilation duct. Six ingots had been hidden in a
winch housing on the promenade deck and the rest amid the frames comprising the inner
strengthening of the forward part of the ship. Although reports at the time stated that they had been
found cemented into the bottom of a very large fire sand box – under the sand!

Boarding the ship immediately she docked in Durban in March, more than a month after the theft had
been discovered, two Southampton detectives and members of the South African Police found the
gold in the places described by the two thieves.

A later supposition indicated that, intending to steal part of a consignment of men’s suits frequently
carried in the makeshift strong room, the thieves had broken into the compartment and in the initial
euphoria of their discovery, removed the gold. Not knowing what to do with this unexpected bonanza,
they hid it. Whatever the motive, they each received a ten year prison sentence.

The Ship Society appreciates the support of the following Corporate members:

Atlatech Divers & Salvors Ltd.,
Cape Maritime Electronics (Pty). Ltd.
Cape Town Ship Suppliers & Exporters (Pty). Ltd.
Carrier Marine Services
Cherbourg Projects
Dolphin Offshore Chandling
Gulf Agency Co.
Japan Marine Supplies & Services
Magellan’s Passage Lodge
POSH Semco - Singapore
Ruwekus Shipping
RNC Ships Agency
Safmarine (Pty). Ltd.
Seaguard Services cc
Svitzer Salvage Africa
Trade Ocean Shipping Services
Top Rope
World Shipping Agencies

                         Flotsam and Jetsam is published by the Ship
                         Society of South Africa and is supplied free
                         to all members and certain libraries as
                         required by law. Members are invited to
                         submit articles but are reminded to be aware
                         of copyright infringement. The current editor
                         is Philip Short with contribution from Jim Fitt
                         and Pauline Brueton
                                 QE2 Treasures Rescued!

Mementos of times past will be another feature aboard Cunard's newest member of the fleet - Queen
Elizabeth. When the QE2 was sold off to Nakheel 2 years ago, along with her went a hoard of
precious artwork and countless treasures. However, thanks to Michael Gallagher - diehard QE2 fan
and PR executive for Cunard, a lot of these items have been recovered and will be on display aboard
Queen Elizabeth. These include:
- A 42-inch solid silver model of the QE2
- The ships bell
- A bust of the Queen by sculptor Osca Nemon
- The Royal Standard
- QE2's old call sign
- Art deco plaques listing all the masters of the QE2/the original QE

So if you're going on board you'll have to see how many you can spot!
                             Cunard Takes Delivery of the New QE

Cunard took delivery of its new vessel Queen Elizabeth today, ready for the official christening next
month. Peter Shanks, the line’s president and managing director officially 'picked up the keys' at
Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard in Venice where she was built. This is the third new ship built for the
Carnival Corporation-owned brand in the last six years joining Queen Mary and Queen Victoria.

Shanks said: “This ceremony to mark the completion of the ship, and our acceptance of delivery, is
just the first of a number of significant events over the next few weeks – including the ship’s official
naming by Her Majesty The Queen in Southampton on Monday October 11. “I’m certain the British
will take this truly magnificent ship to their hearts, as they have all the Cunard Queens”. The new ship
is due to leave Venice on September 30, and will sail to Southampton – where she will berth at the
Ocean Cruise Terminal on Friday October 8. Following her inauguration, the new liner will embark tn
its maiden voyage to the Canary Islands.

Here are a few shots of how she looks at the moment, courtesy of Cunard:

                                         Royal Court Theatre

                          THE THIRTIES by Allan Mallett

The Round Africa service was rationalised a year later, starting in May 1931, when
GRANTULLY CASTLE took the first of two sailings out via the West coast.
LLANDOVERY CASTLE transferred to the Out East route in November, and
incidentally inaugurated regular calls at Gibraltar, and the “D”s joined the route
sailing out via the Cape in November and December 1931, providing a 4-5 weekly
frequency of sailings in each direction which endured until the outbreak of war in

The West coast Intermediate service was reinforced in May 1930 when DUNBAR
CASTLE was completed. Superficially a smaller (10,000 tons) and slower (13 ½ knots)
version of LLANGIBBY CASTLE she had one or two interesting features. The
proportion of First to Third Class passengers differed, 193 First and 250 Third, and
forward of the First class lounge on the promenade deck she had an enclosed veranda
looking forward through to an open veranda, a feature not repeated on further ships.
Late delivery caused the veteran former mailship KILDONAN CASTLE to take her
sailing planned for 20 March 1930. Once completed, she headed the service with
being laid up for much of 1930, and then taking GARTH CASTLE’s place from
September 1931 to February 1932, by which time it was decided that GARTH was the
less unsatisfactory vessel, and GRANTULLY returned to limbo from the end of
February 1932 until the loss of GUILDFORD CASTLE after collision in the Elbe in May
1933. Thus the surviving “G” CASTLEs and DUNBAR CASTLE maintained the West
Coast service until August 1936, with SAXON making one voyage in April 1931.

By now it was becoming increasingly apparent that major improvements to the fleet,
both as regards performance and facilities, were overdue. The postwar additions,
although faster, only emphasised the shortcomings of their predecessors. The postwar
LLANS made the Cape to Southampton passage in just under 20 days, calling at St
Helena, Ascension, and Tenerife before landing their passengers at the Hampshire port
and then proceeding to Dunkirk and finally London. LLANSTEPHAN took a day longer
from London to Cape Town, and the old “D”s 21 days, calling at Tenerife and Lobito,
generally but not invariably calling at Ascension and St Helena. The Intermediate
service was less well served. Although DUNBAR CASTLE made the London to Cape
voyage in less than 20 days, the “G” ships never bettered 23-24 days. More
importantly, the “G”s in design terms dated back to the 1890s, and it has to be
admitted that even allowing for considerable improvements incorporated in the newer
ships there remained shortcomings. Incredibly, no provision was made for permanent
swimming pools even though these had been included in the mailships since
1921(First Class only). Further ships of the LLANGIBBY and DUNBAR CASTLE
classes were considered but the financial imbroglio in which Union-Castle were
involved precluded additional expenditure.

Financial management dominated Union-Castle for the following years but by early
1934 it was deemed possible to commence what eventually emerged as a £10million
rebuilding programme. The first orders included a pair of 15,000 ton Intermediates
which entered service in June and August 1936. Essentially they were reduced

versions of the 25,000 ton mailships completed that year, with a largely similar
accommodation layout, and at last, equipped with open air swimming pools, one for
First Class and one for Tourist Class, Tourist having superseded Third Class in 1934.
Their 9 cylinder diesels provided a total of 9,500 bhp enabling them to maintain 16
knots, equal to the mailships. DUNNOTTAR CASTLE, the first completed, made two
voyages on the out and home West route before moving to the mail service, as did
DUNVEGAN CASTLE, prior to transferring to the mail service. Their advent
meanwhile resulted in brief lay-ups for GRANTULLY CASTLE from May to July, when
she took DURHAM CASTLE’s planned Round Africa sailing, DURHAM laying up from
July to October before returning to service, GRANTULLY again from October to
December, and GARTH from November to February 1937, after which both ships
continued to sail until 1939.

At this point it is appropriate to recall that the thirties, despite the economic ravages
experienced, are now considered to have been the golden age of ocean travel. For the
more leisured and less affluent passenger the Intermediates offered a comfortable if
not luxurious service with good food, plenty of it, and on the whole fair weather.
Vessels sailing out West called alternate fortnights at Tenerife, Ascension, and St
Helena or at Las Palmas and Lobito, reaching Cape Town 19-24 days after leaving
London, and proceeding up coast via Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Lourenco
Marques and finally Beira, where they turned round for the return trip. Mossel Bay
calls were slotted in monthly, and occasionally Mauritius was substituted for the
Mocambique ports by one of the faster vessels. The Round Africa service added
Gibraltar and Tangier, Marseilles, Genoa, followed by a night time passing of the ever
active Stromboli and through the Straits of Messina to Port Said, Suez, Port Sudan, to
Mombasa, and then on via Tanga, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam to Beira. Those with
less time, or money, or simply based in the United Kingdom and who hankered after a
little sea experience could embark for one of the 12 day round trips made by the
Intermediates to the continent, calling at Middlesbrough, whose tourist attractions
limited the call for cargo only, and Rotterdam and Hamburg, or simply to Antwerp and
Hamburg prior to returning to London. These Mini Cruises became highly popular
during the twenties and thirties, despite GUILDFORD CASTLE being lost on one of
them. The last such cruise was made by DURBAN CASTLE in May/June 1939. The
service was not resumed after the war, partly because the full 23 day turn-round time
was required in London.

Mention of the GUILDFORD CASTLE loss is a reminder that, contrary to the permitted
perception in the official history, the company was not always accident free. Most of
these occurrences were relatively minor, the groundings of GAIKA off Mouille Point in
1922 and GARTH CASTLE off Ascension four years later come to mind, and it was
fortunate that at the time of GUILDFORD CASTLE’s loss there was a reserve ship
available. Company policy was to hold one mailship, and possibly an Intermediate, in
reserve in case of accident or breakdown. This rarely arose, and financial needs
prompted the sale of the remaining reserve mailship SAXON in April 1935. On
February 16th 1936 WINCHESTER CASTLE ran aground off Portland. Fortunately the
first of the new mailships had just entered service, enabling minor re-arrangements of
the sailing order, and use of ARMADALE CASTLE, which arrived back a week later on
what was intended to be her last voyage after 33 years, for a further voyage, despite
the Deputy Chairman Sir Vernon Thomson’s scathing comment that she was “totally
unfit for further service” to maintain the regularity of the service. One year later, on

February 25th 1937, LLANDOVERY CASTLE became involved in the Spanish Civil War
when she struck a mine two miles off the coast, flooding the two forward holds. She
was duly repaired at Genoa, returning to London in early June, but that voyage and
the one following were necessarily abandoned. WINDSOR CASTLE’s intended
withdrawal for reconstruction was delayed a voyage as she took BALMORAL CASTLE’s
mail sailing, the latter proceeding directly from Southampton to Durban, in a
creditable 18 days steaming, to pick up passengers booked for LLANDOVERY CASTLE.
All these casualties, with the exception of GUILDFORD CASTLE, were rigorously blue
pencilled out by Sir Vernon.

Throughout 1937 and the early part of 1938 the modernisation of the mail fleet
proceeded apace, and by July DUNVEGAN CASTLE was allocated to the Round Africa
service, out via the West coast. In November DUNNOTTAR CASTLE joined the out and
home west service, followed by the new DURBAN CASTLE at the end of December
1938, a homeward voyage by the old mailship EDINBURGH CASTLE, and then
PRETORIA CASTLE in May 1939. A number of sailings were taken by LLANGIBBY,
LLANDOVERY and GLOUCESTER CASTLEs, the last named having been hauled out of
lay-up as the reserve Intermediate after DUNNOTTAR CASTLE was requisitioned in
August 1939. After mid 1940 the only sailings were by GLOUCESTER CASTLE until
her demise in 1942.

Meanwhile it was all change, for the time being, on the Round Africa as the three
steam LLANS were withdrawn for conversion to oil firing. In their absence the elderly
“D” and “G” CASTLEs took their sailings, but by June July all four had been sold for
breaking up, although the “D”s survived a little longer as stated earlier.

DURBAN CASTLE and PRETORIA CASTLE were the last passenger ships completed
before the outbreak of war, and were designed for the out and home west service.
They had been the subject of some discussion before building, one suggestion,
thankfully dropped, was to convert GARTH and GRANTULLY to Tourist class only
accommodation, another was a serious suggestion to revert to coal firing for the new
ships! In the event it was probably the DOAL’s PRETORIA and WINDHOEK which
settled the matter, splendid 16,000 tonners capable of doing the Southampton to Cape
run in 15 days.

Benefiting from the technical shortcomings of the engines fitted to DUNNOTTAR and
DUNVEGAN CASTLEs, Union-Castle decided that a twin screw installation using the 2
stroke 8 cyl engines fitted in the “R” class refrigerated ships was the answer,
developing 16,000bhp for 18 knots. It was claimed postwar that the reason was that
they would be capable of standing in on the new accelerated mail service, thereby
eliminating the need for reserve ships, but this is questionable because as late as July
1938 the Board decided to retain EDINBURGH CASTLE as reserve mailship and,
surprisingly, GLOUCESTER CASTLE as reserve Intermediate. I should have thought
that BALMORAL CASTLE, laid up from January until June 1939 at the request of the
Government but then sold for breaking up, would have been a better choice. However
both the new ships, PRETORIA having been renamed WARWICK CASTLE in 1946,
served as mailships until mid 1950 before moving to the Round Africa service, where
it was soon found that they were some 30ft too long for comfort in some of the East
African ports, but needs must.

Whilst under construction they were the subject of a major boardroom dispute. Sir
Vernon Thomson, then Deputy Chairman, had been ordered to take a long holiday and
make the voyage to South Africa following some heart trouble. While he was there
CAPETOWN CASTLE (below) was launched, and he was struck by the popularity
which this generated, and accordingly (on holiday(!)) took immediate steps to reserve
the names DURBAN, PRETORIA, BLOEMFONTEIN, and RIEBEECK. On his return he
learnt that the Chairman. Robertson Gibb had chosen the names DUNROBIN and
DUMBARTON. A monumental row followed. Sir Campbell Stuart tried to reach a
compromise with DURBAN and DUNROBIN but Sir Vernon was having none of it, and
the South African names were duly adopted. Sir Vernon, and, to be fair, many others
recognised that Mr Gibb had been a competent passenger manager but no-one quite
understood how he had risen any further, and a few months later he resigned as
Chairman and joint Managing Director, remaining as a Director and also as Chairman
of Bullard King and Co Ltd. This led to a further such difference, when that concern
ordered a new cargo ship in 1942 and Gibb suggested the (traditional) name of
UMFULI. Sir Vernon was having none of it. Whether it was the name or the fact that
the previous holder of the name had become notorious as a result of a reported
sighting of a sea serpent is not clear, but UMFULI was out, and the name was to be
UMTATA. The fact that government regulations precluded the reuse of the name of a
lost ship within a 2 year period was brushed over, and Sir Vernon, highly placed in the
Ministry of War Transport, had his way, as he also did with the names of the three
replacement “R” ships for Union-Castle.

             DUNNOTTAR CASTLE from the bridge of DURBAN CASTLE

Foreign Warships in Cape Town – INS MYSORE and INS ADITYA

One last look at the ships of the Indian Navy that have been visiting South Africa to take part in
IBSAMAR 2, a bi-annual naval exercise involving ships from India, Brazil and South Africa. In
the picture above the impressive looking destroyer INS MYSORE prepares to sail from Cape
Town last month.

Naval fleets at sea require refueling and re-supplying of essential equipment which is where INS
ADITYA comes in. The supply tanker proved efficient at refueling the ships at sea throughout
the various stages of the two-week long exercise. Pictures by Ian Shiffman.
                                   BATTLE OF THE NARROW SEAS
During the long hot summer of 1940, while the Battle of Britain was raging in the skies over Kent, another
deadly battle for survival was taking place in the seas below, off the Kent coast. This was the desperate
attempt to keep open the sea lanes through the English Channel and off the south and east coasts, which were
essential for the shipping of supplies around the UK, especially from the north. It was a battle fought between
fast motor boats built by the British and German navies, armed with torpedoes and guns and able to operate in
waters too shallow for larger warships.

At the start of the war, most of the Royal Navy’s attention inevitably had to be given to the Battle of the
Atlantic, in which British and American merchant ships faced the gauntlet of German submarines. It was here
that most of Britain’s available destroyers had to be used to escort the convoys. Less consideration had been
given to the protection of coastal waters. But it was along the offshore shipping routes that Britain’s large fleet
of tramp steamers and coalers had to transport supplies around the country, not only those brought into the
large ports by the Atlantic convoys but coal and manufactured goods from the north. On any one day there
were hundreds of these small vessels sailing to and from the small ports along the east and south coasts. For
instance, no less than 40,000 tons of coal a week had to be carried through the English Channel.

Under attack

It was this coastal shipping that came under attack from the very beginning of the war, both from the air and
the laying of minefields. But there were defences against these, by British fighter aircraft and minesweepers of
the Royal Navy. And through the most dangerous waters of all, the narrow Straits of Dover, the convoys took
to sailing at night, when they could not be seen from the air.

On the night of 9 May 1940, a new form of attack took place which came as a complete shock to the British
Admiralty. This was from German fast motor torpedo boats, dubbed E-boats by the British, standing for
Enemy. These were small, steel-hulled craft, but with three immensely powerful Mercedes-Benz diesel
engines which gave them speeds of more than 40 knots.

                                                                      The German E boats were larger and to
                                                                      begin with more heavily armed than their
                                                                      British equivalents. They were also much
                                                                      heavier, being built of steel, designed to
                                                                      cut through water rather than plane over it
                                                                      like the wooden hulled British boats.
                                                                      Despite this, they were able to achieve
                                                                      remarkable speeds of more than40 knots,
                                                                      powered by three massive 2,500 HP
                                                                      Daimler-Benz diesel engines.

The British equivalent at that time were wooden-hulled Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), on which little had
been done for their development, since the Royal Navy did not see much use for them. Even the few that were
then available were powered by imported Italian engines, which of course ceased to become available when
the war started.

The four E-boats which set out from their Wilhelmshaven base on the first sortie to attack shipping in the
English Channel faced a voyage of 200 miles across the North Sea and a similar distance back, a longer range
than had ever been attempted. Just before midnight, north-east of Dover, they spotted a British destroyer, but
were seen before they could fire their torpedoes. The flashes from the destroyer’s guns showed that they had
run into a Home Command force of destroyers and cruisers searching for German minelayers. In the running
battle that followed, one of the E-boats crashed into the side of a destroyer which it had not seen. The bows
and forecastle of the E-boat were sheared off and the boat began to sink. Remarkably, by reversing engines
and with pumps working at full pressure, it limped home. Before the other three E-boats had to return because
of lack of fuel, one managed to fire two torpedoes at another destroyer, approaching from the dark horizon so
it could not be seen. The destroyer HMS Kelly was badly damaged and had to be towed home for extensive

Night was the hunting time for the boats of both sides, vulnerable as they were to attack from the air by day.
Further successes later in May showed that E-boats could make their way undetected through the Dover Strait,
a passage previously considered relatively safe because U-boats and large warships were deterred by mine
barrage and shore batteries. The danger became even greater with the fall of France, which gave the Germans
E-boat bases along the French coast instead of having to make the long and difficult voyage from

The Royal Navy began a crash programme to build better-designed MTBs, seen as the best means of
combating the E-boats in night fighting in shallow waters. Many were designed by Vosper and built in small
boatyards around the coast. Their hulls were still constructed of wood, which enabled large numbers to be
built quickly, but this made them more vulnerable to fire. However, as they planed across the water rather than
through it in the manner of the displacement E-boats, they were more manoeuvrable. They were not as heavily
armed, but with the introduction of powerful Packard engines imported from America, based on the Rolls
Royce Merlin which was powering the Spitfire, they managed to match the German boats for speed.

The lighter British MTBs planed
over the waves with bows lifted,
giving          them         better
manoeuvrability      than     their
adversaries. They could also
achieve speeds of up to 40 knots,
but their big Packard engines were
petrol fuelled, making them more
vulnerable to fire.

With MTB bases now established in ports such as Felixstowe, Dover and Ramsgate, night patrols began to
both protect British convoys from E-boat attack and to attack German convoys. For although the fall of France
had given the Germans a great advantage in more convenient bases, they now had to transport supplies of their
own along the occupied coast and were thus also vulnerable to attack by MTBs.

New warfare

There were skirmishes between enemy boats during 1940 and1941, but nothing conclusive. Both sides were
learning a new type of warfare involving close-fought battles at sea reminiscent of an earlier buccaneering
age. Both faced the lack of visibility on dark nights, and the problem of small boats lurching in heavy seas
when it was not unknown for widely firing guns to hit friendly vessels. When there was no moon, it was
possible for boats to pass one another within a few yards without being seen.

While Hollywood’s version had MTBs roaring forwards at full speed to fire torpedoes with all guns blazing,
the preferred tactic was to creep forward on single engine at slow speed in the hope of getting close to a target
without being seen, then firing torpedoes and using full throttle to roar away at top speed before the enemy
knew what was happening.

The wheelhouse
of a Vosper built
MTB showing the
lever on the wheel
enabling it to be
spun quickly to
achieve a rapid
turn of speed.
Above           the
forward of the
wheel, is the V
shaped sight for
firing torpedoes.

It was probably true to say that whereas overall the Germans had the better boats, for example with diesel
engines less likely to catch fire than the petrol-driven MTBs, the British had the advantage in seamanship. The
men, who crewed the boats of Coastal Forces, as it came to be designated, were mostly volunteers who had
been weekend sailors before the war. Their experience of handling small boats in rough seas was to prove
very useful to the Royal Navy, which concentrated its efforts on bigger warships. It came as an unpleasant
shock to some in the Admiralty to find that one of the rather despised small boats could actually sink a ship
the size of a destroyer or cruiser.
                                            Commanders of the MTBs became as famous for their
                                            daring exploits as fighter pilots. Among them was Lt.
                                            Commander Peter Scott, son of the Antarctic explorer.

However, it was not until September 1941 that the MTBs had their first real success. Dover Command had
developed a highly efficient system of radio-detection finding, and on the night of 8 September was able to
guide a force of three boats from Dover on to an enemy convoy of merchant ships off Boulogne, just starting
to make a dash for it through the Dover Strait. Joined by some MGBs in the area, the British boats managed
to sink two heavily-laden merchant ships, two armed trawlers and an E-boat for the loss of one MTB. This set
the pattern for the battle to control the narrow seas that lasted until the war’s end.

The hunting time for the boats of both sides was the night. Just as residents living along the Kent coast could
watch the dog-fights in the air by day, so they were used to seeing the boats setting out on patrol by night. The
roar of engines, in both cases based on Rolls Royce Merlins, was not dissimilar. Such was the ferocity of the
fighting that the Dover Strait was known as ‘Hellfire Corner.’
The final effort in home waters came with the need to protect convoys supplying the Allied Forces after the
Normandy landings, when E-boats were in action until the very last.
Meanwhile, the experience gained in the English Channel during those early years of the war was invaluable
when flotillas of MTBs and MGBs were sent elsewhere, to the Mediterranean, where they fought E-boats off
the coasts of North Africa and Italy, to the Aegean, where they protected Greek-held islands and attacked
those occupied by the Germans, to the Adriatic, where they assisted the partisans, and off the Arakan coast
during the war in Burma.

Pacific cousins

In the Pacific, the equivalent US craft were Patrol Torpedo boats which were essential in both protecting their
own convoys and in attacking the enemy’s convoys in the coastal waters of the Philippines and elsewhere.

After the war, in Britain some of the old MTBs were converted into houseboats while others rotted in creeks
and on river banks. For some years the wreck of an E-boat was moored on the River Stour between Sandwich
and Deal, until it finally broke its back and sank. Just the top of its mast is still visible at low tide. But in
recent years there has been some effort at restoring some of the old Coastal Forces boats – like MTB 102,
restored in Southampton by the Coastal Boat Heritage Trust.

The British Government has agreed to use taxpayers’ money to pay for the first airstrip on the remote island of St
Helena. The decision was welcomed by Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative party donor, who has been campaigning for a

Anyone wanting to get to the British territory will no longer be forced to catch the Royal Mail Ship St Helena from
Cape Town, a journey that takes more than a week. The island, where Napoleon was exiled after Waterloo, is home to
more than4,000 ‘Saints’.

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, reversed the previous governments (Labour) decision to
scrap plans to build an airstrip on the island, which lies more than 1,200 miles off the African coast. The cost of
replacing the ship would be about £60 million, while the airstrip will cost more than £100 million.

Mr Mitchell said that ‘It’s time to give the people of St Helena the decision they have been waiting for since an airport
was promised in 2003.

Lord Ashcroft has supported the campaign, and last December ‘buzzed’ the island in his jet. The island is the most
costly of the Crown’s fourteen Overseas Territories.

The Telegraph (UK) July 2010

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