Gold Ribbon Banner
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The article on fishing support vessel development in Tristan de Cunha in the January 2016 issue of Sea Breezes, leads me back 35 years to the Republic of Kiribati (formerly the crown colony of the Gilbert Islands where I had served in command of the principle cargo / passenger ship Moanaraoi 1968 – 70).

I had long seen potential for the establishment of a regular semi-container line with passenger capacity, serving, Kiribati, Tuvalu (Ellice Islands) and Majuro (Micronesia) from Suva in Fiji, linking with mainline Pacific Forum Line and Bank Line sailings. A key element of the proposed service would be the provision of a reefer service to carry frozen tuna from the embryonic Kiribati fishing industry down to the processing plant at Pago Pago in American Samoa. To this end, I had talks with the government’s Fisheries Officer in Tarawa who welcomed the opportunities presented by the proposed service.

I identified a suitable ship, the Icelandic state shipping line’s coastal cargo / passenger ship Hekla, which along with her sister Esja, were being disposed of. I travelled to Iceland to view the ship, and immediately fell in love with her (far more dangerous than falling in love with women!). Ten years old, heavily built and in immaculate condition, she had a container compatible derrick at No1, extensive ‘tween deck and hold space at No2 suitable for island break bulk, and in particular a deep freeze hold at No3. Inter alia, she had a range of cargo handling equipment, which made her well-suited for an additional role envisaged for the vessel, that of providing sea training opportunities for trainees from the Kiribati merchant seamen’s training school. Sadly (or as developments in Kiribati turned out, perhaps fortunately), I could not source the financing necessary, and the grand dream was dropped, with me penniless and out of a job. Back to the offshore industry!

In the mid-1990’s, while serving as Director of Operations of the Trinity House Lighthouse Service, we commissioned a rapid intervention vessel to service the solar-powered floating aids in the greater Thames estuary theatre of operations. Built by Halmatic, THV Ready as she was christened, was a cabin RIB-style vessel capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots. One London Boat Show shortly after her commissioning, I was invited by Halmatic to join them for their annual wing ding at the Show. Never one to turn down such an offer, I accepted.

Upon presenting at Halmatic’s suite, their sales director introduced me to the Administrator of Tristan de Cunha, Chris Bates, who it was hoped was about to buy a second ready for service as a fisheries protection vessel – would I put a good word in? (No such thing as a free lunch!) I chatted with the Administrator for some time, discussing island life. I expressed my interest in Tristan de Cunha, which I had never visited, and the conversation led on to island shipping, and the West Pacific islands, where apparently he had served. We narrowed the field down to Kiribati, and he suddenly blurted out “I knew I recognised you; I was the Fisheries Officer in Tarawa back in 1982, and you had plans for a shipping service which I needed to move my catch”.

Needless to say, a damned good lunch ensued! No more than six months later, the shipping press announced a five year fishing concession which had been won by Premier Fisheries of Cape Town to fish off Tristan de Cunha. Servicing the concession involved the use of a number of small high speed catchers, and two mother ships, the principle one of which was the former Icelandic ship Hekla. My emotions can be imagined!

In October 2015, my wife and I visited Cape Town. I had earlier established that the Hekla, now re-named Edinburgh, was still in service and there, sure enough, she was when I scouted out the docks. Sadly, my wife had not packed my hi-vis jacket, steel toed boots and hard hat within our holiday gear, so I could not gain admission. But it was great to see her still going strong, with tiers of lobster pots stacked high abaft the funnel where I had envisaged deck passengers 33 years earlier, and her 20-tonne derrick un-shipped.

It was good to note in your article that this fine little ship still has a role to play, a far cry from the Icelandic waters where she started and my envisaged west Pacific islands service. I believe, but I am yet to confirm, that Hekla’s sister, Esja saw subsequent service in French Polynesia.

Attached are photographs taken of the Hekla in Reykjavik in 1982 (black hull) and of the Edinburgh (Nee Hekla) in Cape Town, October, 2015. The latter photos clearly show the lobster creels stacked on her main deck and poop.

E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more letters, see the latest edition of Sea Breezes Magazine
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Island Princess

Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Move to Enlarge River Terminal +

    Grimsby River Terminal Associated British Ports (ABP) plans to expand its Grimsby River Terminal to enable it to handle the world’s largest car Read More
  • At the Helm of the RNLI +

    Mark Dowie A new Chief Executive has been appointed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to succeed Paul Boissier, who has held Read More
  • Keeping the Tyne Clean +

    Clearwater Each year, the Clean Tyne project removes around 400 tonnes of debris from the River Tyne between Blaydon and the Read More
  • First Part of Huge Port Investment Completed +

    Sheerness Port The 20-year Master Plan for boosting trade through the Kent port of Sheerness has reached a significant milestone with the Read More
  • Ship Sinks After Fire Breaks Out in Cargo +

    Grande America All 26 crew and one passenger were rescued after the roll-on,rolloff container ship Grande America, 56,642gt, caught fire and then Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Houston Ship Canal Closed After Major Fire +

    Houston Fire The Houston Ship Canal reopened to daylight traffic after being closed for nearly a week due to a serious fire Read More
  • Back Home After Eventful Antarctic Season +

    Polar Star The US Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star arrived back at her homeport of Seattle, Washington on Mar 11 after an Read More
  • Four More Giant Cranes Arrive from China +

    Zhen Hua 31 Four new Super-Post-Panamax container cranes arrived at Tacoma, Washington, from China in early March, just over a year after the Read More
  • Two Hurt as Lifeboat Falls Overboard +

    USCG Reliance Two crew members of the tanker Chemtrans Nova, 73,870dwt, had to be flown ashore for treatment after the lifeboat they Read More
  • Cutters Seize $466mn of Drugs on Patrols +

    USCG Forward At Port Everglades, Florida, on Feb 5, some 34,780lbs of cocaine with a street value of $466mn was unloaded from Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3


  • Three Main Courses Being Plotted for MOL +

    MOL Triumph The major Japanese shipping line Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has unveiled a number of new objectives aimed at improving its Read More
  • Cargo Ships for Bass Strait Service +

    Tasmanian Achiever II The first of two 700 teu cargo ship for the Bass Strait route between the Tasmanian port of Burnie and Read More
  • Race to Save Coral Reef After Grounding +

    Solomon Trader A major anti-pollution operation was launched in the Solomon Islands after the bulk carrier Solomon Trader, 73,592dwt, with a cargo Read More
  • Special Place for Tanker in Port History +

    Pro Alliance The largest fuel tanker in the 220 year history of the Australian port of Newcastle, NSW, arrived on Mar 18 Read More
  • Data Recorder Recovered From Ore Carrier Wreck +

    Seabed Constructor The Stellar Daisy, owned by Polaris Shipping, of South Korea, was carrying a cargo of iron ore from Brazil to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Seeks Faster Ship Delivery +

    FFGX Rendering American News The future frigate program for the US Navy is getting fully underway and some idea of the urgency Read More
  • HMS “Dragon” in £75 Million Narcotics Seizure +

    HMS Dragon British News Whilst on patrol in the Gulf, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon seized and destroyed ten tonnes of Read More
  • New Generation of Enterprise Confirmed +

    USS Enterprise American News On 31 January, the US Department of Defense announced the awarding of a block buy contract with Huntington Read More
  • Brazil to Take Over HMS Clyde +

    HMS Clyde British News It has been announced by the Brazilian Government in early December that the Falklands Patrol ship HMS Clyde Read More
  • Navy And NASA Complete Recovery Test +

    USS Anchorage American News In what might be seen as a return to the heady days of NASA’s Apollo moon program, the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Further Delay for LNG Powered Glen Sannox +

    Glen Sannox The drama surrounding the much delayed new ferries for Caledonian MacBrayne continues to rumble on with the latest, not unsurprising, Read More
  • Favourite Claymore +

    Claymore A poster of Llandudno pier prompted a memory from ex Calmac chief engineer Charlie McCurdy as he took another trip Read More
  • Baltic Battery Power +

    Aurora Scandinavian and Baltic operators seem to be leading the way in reducing ferry reliance on fossil fuels. Read More
  • Electric Solutions +

    Polarkunsult Ferry A new ferry will replace the 1992-built MF Herjólfur to the Westmann Islands and will be in line with Iceland’s Read More
  • Variety of New Builds +

    Red Kestrel I am gratified to hear at Cammell Lairds and Red Funnel have a particularly good record in ordering from UK Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Thames Tributary Barges +

    Lady of the Lea Most of the rivers flowing into the Thames had their own barge type. Read More
  • Dry Rot and Dry Dock +

    HMS Victory For some time Victory, the 110gun ship of the line, has had trouble with dry rot and is in danger Read More
  • Everards Eulogy +

    Greenhithe Scottish maritime interests particularly may mourn the loss of Geo Gibson. Read More
  • Welsh Port Gentrification +

    Penarth In the Victorian era, there were many coastal places where craft worked off open beaches. Read More
  • Sussex Sterns +

    Edward and Mary and Valiant In the Victorian era, there were many coastal places where craft worked off open beaches. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Red Funnel’s New Ferry Arrives +

    Red Kestrel Red Kestrel, the newest addition to Red Funnel’s fleet, arrived at her new home in Southampton on 18 April. Read More
  • Keeping an Eye on the Weather +

    Royal Charter storm I was intrigued to read recently about the career of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy (1805-65). Read More
  • Port of London Trade at 10-Year High +

    DP World London Gateway Trade through the Port of London reached 53.2 million tonnes last year, a level last seen over a decade ago. Read More
  • Northlink Celebrates Apprentices +

    Paul Wheelhouse NorthLink Serco Northlink Ferries has been commended by the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, for developing young Read More
  • An Auction with no Buyer +

    Falls of Clyde I was reading recently about the unsuccessful auction to find a buyer for the Falls of Clyde, the last remaining Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Seadream Yacht Club to Build New Ship +

    SeaDream Innovation For over fifteen years, the SeaDream Yacht Club has operated two yachtlike ships, on 7 to 15-day voyages. Read More
  • Tradition Plays Its Part +

    Prana by Atzaro If ever proof was needed that traditionally built craft can still play a part in the luxury charter market in Read More
  • MV "Magellan Explorer" +

    MV Yet another new and modern expedition vessel custom built for Antarctic air-cruises will make her debut in 2019. Read More
  • The Saga Continues +

    Saga Discovery Saga Adventure SAGA Cruises has announced it is taking up an option for it’s second new ship to be built at the Read More
  • Reconstruction of “Danah Voyager” +

    Danah Voyager Reconstruction of redundant offshore oil industry tonnage turning them into luxury superyachts is not a new phenomena, but recent photographs Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places


Victoria High and Dry

Five-hundred years ago, Ferdinand Magellan sailed out of Seville, Spain, on one of the most memorable discovery voyages ever made, Read More
Christina O

From Warship to Superyacht

Rescued twice from the scrapheap, Captain Michael Howorth charts the fall and rise of one of the world’s best known Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

SS Eastern (2)

MT Arthur Foss

“The last vessel to escape Wake Island before Japanese forces captured the island” Read More
SS Eastern (2)

Rescue of Crew Member From Tanker Avanti

Captain A J Murdoch served with Eastern & Australian Steamship Company until he retired in 1982. Hailing from Melbourne, during Read More
  • 1
  • 2