IN THE MOST recent copy of Vroon BV house magazine, there is a full-page article on the passing of a British built SD 14 class vessel, Scotian Express.
Many of these vessels were built by Austin and Pickersgill of Sunderland who provided the concept and the genesis of the SD 14. The concept was to provide a modern replacement, suitable to most companies, of the ageing Liberty ships.
They were sleek ships of almost 15,000 tonnes DWT, with 4 hatches forward of the bridge and one hatch aft. To save money, they had a partial flat transom stern and a common Sulzer propulsion train in most ships for a speed of 14 knots. The original design could be delivered to owners in 1967/68 at around £950,000. Building by the British yards, and overseas yards under license, continued into the 1980s at much greater costs. The last SD 14s were built in 1984. The design was good for it’s day, for non-containerised cargoes.
The Scotian Express was built in 1980 as Jade II for Greek owners. In 1987 she passed to Vroon BV and in 1993 became Saigon 3 for Vietnamese owners. She remained in Asian ownership until her breaking up in 2013 after 33 years of service. They were in production so long, from 1967 to 1984, they give a good window on cost trends over that period. The first vessel Nicola was sold, new build, for £926,000 in 1968, the last recorded selling price, for a new ship, and at the end of 1982 was £6,225,000. The British yards built great ships, maybe they should again, with the same cost controls exercised by Austin and Pickersgill.