Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sunderland Docks, 29th. December 2011

Atlantis multi-function pontoon vessel

Jan Steen, dredger

Tug Osprey Boxer

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shipping in the Tyne 17th. December 2011

Russia cargo ship Grumant entering theTyne

 The Cypriot-registered Helas dropping the pilot

...... and a fishing boat trailing a blizzard of gulls. The crew must be cleaning the catch on their way into North Shields fish Quay....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shipping on the Tyne, 19th. November 2011

Container ship Marstan entering the Tyne

UK Border Agency cutter Searcher tied up alongside Union Quay North Shields. More details of this vessel here.
In July of this year this vessel seized £12m worth of cannabis from a yacht off the Sussex coast.
The ship is equipped with a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat that can be launched down the stern slipway.
Fishing boat Frem W returning to North Shields fish quay.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MV Beaumagic

Dutch general cargo ship Beaumagic unloading in Seaham harbour early this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HMS Ledbury visiting Newcastle 23/10/2011

 The Hunt class minesweeper HMS Ledbury (M30) moored on the quayside at Newcastle during a visit on 23rd. October 2011 ........
.......... sharing the quayside with the traditional Sunday market.

The ship has a glass reinforced plastic hull - similar to the pre-formed hulls you can buy for model ships. The virtue of this form of hull construction for a minesweeper is that it's non-magnetic - the downside was the enormous development cost; producing GRP hulls on this scale made Hunt class minesweepers the most expensive ships ever built for the Royal Navy on a  cost-per-metre basis.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dry Dock and Marine Fouling

Keeping ships and boats free of marine fouling - encrustations of marine organisms on the underwater hull - has been a problem ever since people began making voyages in boats that were too big to simply drag out of the water every day. Careening was the solution for small sailing ships, when they could be run up on the shore on a high tide. When they were left high and dry hull maintainance was possible between the tides. As ships grew larger this became more difficult, and sheathing the hull in copper - toxic to marine life - could help keep toredo worm at bay and reduce encrustations of barnacles and other organisms that created drag on a ship's hull. The problem became more acute with the advent of the iron steam ships that had to carry fuel rather than rely on the wind, so that drag on the hull increased coal consumption as well as slowing the ship down - and for warships in battle speed was of the essence. Anti-fouling paints - loaded with toxic tin and copper compounds - came to the rescue but needed to be regularly reapplied - and that couldn't be done by beaching 12,000 ton battleships and working between the tides. So the development of ever-larger dry docks was a key requirement for commercial shipping and navies once the age of iron steamships arrived. The Holzapfel brothers must have done very well out of their Anticorrosive and Antifouling compositions, used by the Royal Navy and great shipping lines like Cunard.

Here’s the 15,000 ton Victorian battleship HMS Magnificent, one of the Majestic class, newly completed in December 1895 and ready for commission, about to leave the dry dock at Chatham which has almost refilled with water. When the lock gates open she’ll pass out into the River Medway and sail to Devonport, to become senior ship in the Western Division of the Channel Squadron – and no doubt begin to acquire an encrustation of marine life on the bottom of her hull. She must have looked as magnificent as her name suggests, with buff funnels, white upperworks, black hull and white boot-topping above her hull bottom, protected by red antifouling paint. She survived in various guises until 1921 and you can read her service history here.

HMS Empress of India in dry dock in Chatham in December 1895. The lock gates have been shut, the dock has been drained and the ship is braced against the dockside with massive timbers while her hull is examined. At this time naval dockyards suffered from a serious shortage of dry docks to accommodate the rapidly expanding fleet of increasingly large and powerful battleships – Empress of India had seven sister ships and the even bigger Majestic class had eight. Notice the Admiral’s stern walk – still an ornate feature of capital ships at this time. She was deliberately expended as a practice target in Lyme Bay in 1913 and today is a popular wreck for recreational divers to explore.

HMS Nile, sister ship of HMS Trafalgar described in an earlier post, in dry dock in Malta. She was a 12,000 ton battleship completed in 1890 and, at the time of this photograph in 1895, part of the Mediterranean Fleet. Down in the bottom of the dock shipyard workers are inspecting her hull. Notice her ram bow - equipment for a form of naval warfare that dates back to classical antiquity that could still to prove useful against the new-fangled submarine that would threaten surface fleets: HMS Dreadnought, the epitome of the big-gun ship, rammed a sank the U-29 in 1915, so becoming the only battleship ever to sink a submarine. Ironically, the present HMS Dreadnought was Britain's first nuclear-powered submarine.
HMS Nile was broken up in 1912.

Images of ships here are from an old and tattered copy of the 1896 edition of The Army and Navy Illustrated that I found in an antiquarian bookshop.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HMS Trafalgar

This is HMS Trafalgar, as pictured in the 1896 edition of The Army and Navy Illustrated. She was an 11,940 ton steel armoured battleship, launched in 1887 and completed in 1890, and spent most of her career in the Mediterranean squadron where her low freeboard was less of a handicap than in stormier seas. Armed with four 67 ton guns in two turrets, she's decked in the red boot-topping, black hull, white upperworks and buff funnels of Queen Victoria's navy. During this period admirals were said to be reluctant to indulge in gunnery practice, fearful of the mess a broadside might make to their immaculately turned-out vessels.
Serving as an officer in the Mediterranean Squadron must have been a fairly cushy number. This is the quartedeck of HMS Trafalgar decked out under awnings on 21st. October to celebrate the anniversary of the famous battle with a 'smoking concert'. Notice the rose-arrangement of cutlasses, upper left, and the highly polished guns.
HMS Trafalgar must have done enough gunnery practice to put some wear-and tear on her guns - here they are being hoisted out while the ship lies in Malta harbour, using the largest available crane.
Another picture of a gun being hoisted out. These barrels needed relining after only 120 rounds with a full charge, although in peacetime practice only half-charges were used, extending a gun's life to 400 rounds.
Coaling ship must have been a doubly-wearisome task for the sailors involved, lugging coal across from the attendant collier (in this case the Westbook, lying alongside) then cleaning up all those white upperworks and decks afterwords. Here HMS Trafalgar is taking in coal while lying off Alexandretta, on the Syrian coast, while cruising the eastern Mediterranean.
No much doubt about who was giving the orders and who was lugging coal here, but their still did it with a great deal of pride. When this photograph was taken in 1898 they just broken the fleet record - 141.6 tons of coal transferred per hour.

HMS Trafalgar went to the breakers in 1911.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shipping on the River Tyne 20th. August 2011

Ardea, a chemical and oil products tanker, inbound.

 The 83,000 g.r.t. P&O cruise ship Arcadia.
 Ro-Ro vehicle carrier City of Lutece leaving the Tyne, with the pilot boat Collingwood going alongside....
... to pick up the pilot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pipe-laying Vessel

The Seven Navica, a pipe-laying vessel, alongside Corporation Quay at Sunderland, August 7th. 2011.

Monday, August 8, 2011


In modern parlance, the launching of Turbinia in 1894 was a 'game-changing' development in naval history. As the first ship to be powered by steam turbines, invented by Charles Parsons, she was comfortably the fastest ship afloat, thanks to her powerplant and the fine lines of her hull. She enjoyed a chequered career, during which she survived a serious collision (see also this link) on the Tyne and was at one time cut in half for display in the Science Museum in London (after section with engines) and Newcastle's Exhibition Park. The turbine is still in the Science Museum but happily the two haves of the ship have been rejoined, refurbished and reside in Newcastle's Discovery Museum, in a specially built gallery.
(Image from Wikipedia:

No other ship ever merited the epithet 'Greyhound of the Sea' more than Turbinia and her famous dash through the assembled fleet of ponderous battleships at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead in 1897 helped to demonstrate the potential of the new propulsion system for naval vessels. The Lords of the Admiralty might not have been amused but all RN ships after 1905 used this form of propulsion.

No less than nine propellers drove Turbinia through the water at over 34 knots.