Friday, November 24, 2017
John Biscoe

Many readers will recall the Antarctic research vessel, RRS John Biscoe which voyaged to the Antarctic every year from 1956 until she was retired from service in 1991.

I had the good fortune to sail as Second Mate in this redoubtable vessel. During each voyage south, the vessel engaged in the relief and resupply of the various scientific research bases operated by the British Antarctic Survey. It was hard work, but very interesting and rewarding. A lot of work was conducted using the various workboats carried. Three Gemini inflatables with 40hp outboards were used for beach landings with scientist field parties. For heavier cargo transfer at the various bases, a 30ft wooden scow was loaded with up to eight tons. This was towed by a 24ft diesel-powered wooden launch. The launch was stowed inside the scow on the port side of the for’d well deck. In addition to towing the scow, the launch was extensively used as a general workboat.

John Biscoe was retired from service in 1991, and was sold for further service in the Mediterranean, as Fayza Express. But what happened to the launch? I knew that she had been installed in the new ship, the James Clark Ross, but was soon replaced with a new boat. I left BAS in 1975, and had no further association with the ships. So I was amazed to notice in the TV coverage of the Jubilee river pageant, on the Thames in 2012, a very familiar-looking red boat! And yes, I was right! It was our old launch, still going strong. I discovered that she was owned by the harbour authority at Eyemouth.

The Harbourmaster had entered the boat in the Pageant as one of the “workboat” representatives. I gather it was a considerable achievement to get her ready and taken to London for the event. In the summer of 2015, I had to travel to Rosyth to join a cruise ship as guest lecturer. I decided it would be a good opportunity to stop at Eyemouth and visit an old friend! But contacting the Harbourmaster elicited the information that the boat had been sold to the Friars Goose boatyard at Gateshead, for use as their yard workboat.

Accordingly, a few phone calls were made, and in August 2015 I found myself on board the venerable old craft, afloat on the Tyne. However, the story has an uncertain ending. The boatyard wishes to dispose of the launch, as she is not substantial enough for their duties as yard launch. It would be very sad if this venerable survivor just sinks into oblivion. Those responsible for her at the yard are keen to see her going to “a good home”. I feel that she deserves a place, either in a museum or in active use. I wonder if Sea Breezes readers can provide a solution.

CAPTAIN DAVID BRAY, FNI
4 Church Rise
Oulton Broad, NR32 3JP
E-Mail: davidjames.bray@ btinternet.com

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

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

GMS Expedition

Most Popular

  • Video Campaign for New Seafarers +

  • Side-By-Side Supply Ships Sink +

  • Morale Boost for CalMac +

  • Insurers Back Better Firefighting System +

  • Spotlight on Role of Women in Shipping +

  • 1
  • 2

Top 10 Books and DVDs 2017

Maritime Log

  • Historic Lifeboat Returns Home +

    Bedford A historic lifeboat has returned home to Tyneside after a number of local businesses joined local government to save her. Read More
  • Anchor Catches Torpedo +

    Skaw Provider When the crew of the Maltese-flag oil/chemical tanker Skaw Provider, 4,300dwt, raised the anchor from 15m off Portland, Dorset, they Read More
  • Side-By-Side Supply Ships Sink +

    The Maersk Searcher and Maersk Shipper. (DMAIB) A unique conjunction of events and circumstances led to the sinking of two Maersk offshore supply vessels in December, 2016, Read More
  • Historic Voyage Between China and Russia +

    Lian Hua Song The cargo ship Lian Hua Song (pictured) 20,692gt, of the COSCO Shipping Line, China, arrived at St Petersburg, Russia, in Read More
  • Spotlight on Role of Women in Shipping +

    Sarah West A special reception was held at London’s City Hall on the first day of the London International Shipping Week to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • ‘Best Trading Months’ in History of Long Beach +

    Port Of Long Beach Records were broken in September when the Port of Long Beach, California, moved more containers than in any other September Read More
  • Hudson's Biggest +

    Steam generator The two-day, 170-mile delivery from the Port of Coeymans near Albany, New York of a new 130-foot high steam generator Read More
  • "Friendship of Salem" to Return This Winter +

    Friendship of Salem The Salem Maritime National Historic Site announced agreement on contract changes for the ongoing overhaul of the three-masted, 171-foot Friendship Read More
  • You're Fired! +

    USS John S McCain After a grounding, three collisions and multiple deaths, Vice Adm Joseph Aucoin was relieved of command of the US Navy’s Read More
  • Old Ironsides Floats Again +

    USS Constitution A two-year overhaul in dry dock for USS Constitution ended on the night of 23/24 July when the waters of Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Italian Builders to Construct in Australia +

    Fincantieri The Italian shipbuilder and ship designer Fincantieri is to construct sections for cruise ships and frigates in Australia from next Read More
  • Fifteen LNG Carriers For Siberia Project +

    LNG Ice Breaker (DSME) A South Korean company has received a contract to build 15 ice-breaking LNG carriers for Russia, the president of South Read More
  • Asia/Australasia Container Traffic Slumps +

    Drewry Report Container traffic from Asia to Australasia suffered its first quarterly slump in at least five years, falling by 11 per Read More
  • First Order from Taiwan +

    Austal The fast ferry builder Austal Ships, of Henderson, Western Australia, has won its first commercial vessel contract in Taiwan. Read More
  • Kidnapped Crew Killed +

    Royal 16 The Philippine military have found the bodies of three sailors who were kidnapped in two separate incidents over nine months Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives at Home Port +

    HMS Queen Elizabeth British News An event following the 2010 Defence Review many thought would never happen occurred on Wednesday 16 August when Read More
  • Work Starts on Three Warships +

    Type 25 British News After an almost unseemly wait, the Royal Navy can breathe again having held its breath waiting for the Read More
  • Los Angeles Class Decommissioning +

    USS Dallas American News The end of May saw a lot of submarine news within the US Navy with the decommissioning of Read More
  • HMS Westminster Returns to Service +

    HMS Westminster British News After two years out of service undergoing a major reconstruction and refit, the Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster Read More
  • USS Tripoli Launched Ahead of Schedule +

    USS Tripoli American News Ingalls Shipbuilding achieved a remarkable achievement when they launched the latest America class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Morale Boost for CalMac +

    Glen Sannox The major new units of CalMac’s West of Scotland fleet taking shape at Port Glasgow are to bear the much Read More
  • Summer Scenes - Naples +

    GNV Cristal So when arriving at Naples, we now meet the ex Olau Hollandia ex Pride of Le Havre ex SNAV Sardegna, Read More
  • Summer Scenes - Barcelona +

    Abel Matutes As we head through Autumn – or ‘the Fall’ as our North American readers would put it – and some of the Read More
  • Excursion Woes +

    Waverley The excursion business, especially with the preserved classic vessels, has continued to have major disappointments. Read More
  • Making Points +

    Stena Superfast VIII In recent years, Remontowa at Gdansk has been the go-to yard for many European ferries needing refit and survey and Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • From Rix To Stevie Clarkes +

    The name Rix is long associated with Humber ports with origins traced to Hull businessman Captain Robert Rix in the Read More
  • Staple Trades - Clay +

    Moelfre Rose Before leaving the economically confused days of 2017, I thought I would remind ourselves of some of the staple trades Read More
  • Colne Racing +

    Edme The 46th Colne Smack and Barge Match was sailed from Brightlingsea on September 2 in a very light southerly breeze Read More
  • West Coast Restorations +

    CA Thayer From the day they are launched, every ship has a life expectancy. Read More
  • Captain Tom Galloway +

    Tom Galloway and Shell Driver It is with sadness I report the loss, after a short illness, of long term Sea Breezes follower and valued Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • The Majestic River Rhine +

    MS Charles Dickens In September of this year, my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful Riviera Travel river cruise on the majestic River Read More
  • Video Campaign for New Seafarers +

    To Sea or Not to Sea In an aim to plug the shortfall in numbers of British seafarers, the UK Chamber of Shipping and the Merchant Read More
  • Solent Marine Safety Academy +

    Firefighters Any initiative that helps improve safety at sea and the betterment of the skills set of seafarers in reacting to Read More
  • Forth Bridges - The New Queensferry Crossing +

    Forth Bridges At the end of August 2017, the new Queensferry Crossing opened to traffic. Read More
  • London International Shipping Week +

    London International Shipping Week London International Shipping Week (LISW), held from Sept 11th-Sept 15th, brought together many of the world's maritime leaders who gave Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Britain's Boat Builders are Buoyant +

    British Sunseeker 95 Yacht Brand new industry reports, prepared by British Marine, show that Britain’s boat builders are buoyant and riding the crest of Read More
  • Project Echo +

    Project Echo Having recently delivered the 46m composite catamaran yacht support vessel, Charley, to the owners of the superyacht White Rabbit Golf, Read More
  • Two Unique Ships Meet In Douglas Bay +

    Sega Sapphire and Talitha When Hapag-Lloyd’s new build, the Europa (3), was delivered to the company in 1981, the vessel very quickly was awarded Read More
  • The Movie “Juggernaut “ and the Experiences of an Extra +

    Juggernaut As a contributor to Sea Breezes it is always useful to get comment from our readers. Read More
  • Hydrogen Powered Vessel to Sail Around the World +

    Energy Observer. (J Bidon) A voyage with a planned duration of six years in which 101 ports of call in 50 different countries are Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

John Readhead & Sons

The Role of the Yard Pilot

Anyone who has attended a ship launch will forever remember the thrill of the occasion as the vessel begins its Read More
Duke of Lancaster

TSS Duke of Lancaster

A Typical Summer Sailing From Heysham Harbour – 50 Years Ago Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Rathlin Express

Rathlin Island Ferry Service

In the second of his articles on Northern Ireland’s vital links, Scott Mackey looks at the lifeline ferry service linking Read More
SS Connemara

Disaster in Carlingford Lough

Over 100 years have passed since the tragic collision in Carlingford Lough between the Holyhead passenger steamer Connemara and an Read More
  • 1
  • 2