Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Ships in the Sound

Every month or so the Diary publishes a personal record of ships which have passed up and down the Sound of Mull.  It's not a busy waterway but we do see some interesting ships.

This is the Bente on her way to Lublin which, I'm sure we all know, is a port in Poland.  She's a 4456dwt cargo ship built in China in 2010 for owners Marlink Schiffahrtkontor of Hamburg, Germany, but she's registered in Malta.  She has more written along her side than any ship we've seen before.  At some point, someone is going to realise the potential of turning the slab-like side of a large cargo ship into an international advertising hoarding.

There's no particular reason for including the Arklow Fern in this month's featured ships except that she, like all Arklow Shipping's boats, always looks as neat and clean as any well-managed ship should be.  She's low in the water, which is good to see, as it means she has a full cargo aboard.

This picture of the Fri Ocean was taken in May 2011, back in happier times.  The Fri Ocean ran aground on Mull, a few miles to the south of Tobermory, early in the morning of 14th June - Diary report and links here - but was floated off that evening and taken to Oban for inspection.

For those of you interested in disasters at sea, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Press Office blog here is always worth a visit.  The other day, under the title "FIVE FOREIGN FLAGGED SHIPS UNDER DETENTION IN UK DURING MAY 2013" it had this to report -

"Vessel Name: - YEOMAN BANK (Bulk Carrier)
Flag: - Liberia
Company: - V Ships UK Ltd
Classification Society: - Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Recognised Organisation: - Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: - Lloyds Register (LR)
Summary: - four deficiencies including two grounds for detention

"The vessel was detained in Portbury as the emergency generator was not starting or running correctly.
Other deficiencies identified were during enclosed space entry, no SCBA at entry as required by procedure - additional training to be made; three fire mans outfits (suits) had been worn out; Insufficient cutting boards (coloured) in the galley."  The spelling and punctuation is the MCA's.

Most of this isn't too much of a worry, but the failed generator is.  Those of us who watch this huge vessel which frequently works its way through the narrow seaway of the Sound of Mull are grateful for the efforts of the MCA, but would like to remind Her Majesty's Government that they recently removed the on-duty emergency towing tug from our area.

The government is, of course, extremely lucky to have an organisation like the Royal National Lifeboat Institute which runs all rescues at sea in British waters at no cost to the taxpayer.  The RNLI did a sterling job with the Fri Ocean which, fortunately, didn't leak any oil or other noxious chemicals, but wouldn't be able to cope with the 70,000 tonne Yeoman Bank.

The picture shows the Mallaig lifeboat 17-26, the Henry Alston Hewat, which has operated out of Mallaig since 2001, passing up the Sound on the 17th June.

The amount of cruise ship activity has fallen in the last month.  One that did pass our way was Noble Caledonia's Island Sky - website here - but....

....instead we were treated to a view of one of those cruising ships.... sorry, yachts.... designed for the super rich, the Big Eagle - website here.  Readers who follow the 'Ships in the Sound' blogs will know that the Diary has prejudices about ships' names, preferring to stick with the old tradition of giving them girls' names.  Big Eagle is a terrible name for a ship since, although this one is obviously very fast, it certainly doesn't fly and, compared to the Yeoman Bank, is very, very small, so Little Sparrow might be more appropriate.  Perhaps the situation is saved by the fact that the captain is a lady, Ms Christiana Virgilio.

This, in contrast, is a real yacht.  She's the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland's Alba Endeavour, a Challenge 72 boat which is quite capable of taking her crew round the world - see website here.  Although she's crewed by volunteers she came past us on the 20th in fine style, tacking into a brisk southeaster to make her way south down the Sound.

This is the only warship that's passed through the Sound this month.  M106 is an old friend, HMS Penzance, a Sandown-class minehunter built by Vosper Thornycroft in 1998.  Vosper Thornycroft is an historic name in British warship building, having launched some of the great destroyers of World War II, but it, like so many independent British shipbuilders, doesn't exist any more - see a history here.

The Diary continues to live in hope of seeing one of the Royal Navy's new Type-45 destroyers some of which, like the Daring, above, have taken the name of destroyers built by Vosper Thornycroft which saw service in the war.  Photo courtesy Defence Images on Flickr, here.


  1. I will try and find out if one is coming this way. My son works for General Electric and is on the T45 contract.

  2. The last one has left BAE Systems in Yoker for sea trials,but u never know,could be heading for Hughies Pigs as target practice . Keep up the good work on the site :0)