Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Extra towing capacity arrived on the Clyde during the day in the shape of this tug, SVITZER MUSSELWICK, to assist in the move of the two remaining Maersk Line ships from Loch Striven. This tug, an enlarged version of the 'M' class tugs of which SVITZER MILFORD is an early example, was built in China at the Qingdao Qianin Shipyard and delivered to Svitzer late in 2008. Together with two sisters, she made her own way from the Far East via Cape Town, choosing a route to avoid any potential piracy problems in the Gulf of Aden but which resulted in them suffering badly while on passage. Designed to handle LNG tankers at Milford Haven, she had to put in to a shipyard at Vigo in Spain to have voyage repairs and modifications made before she could enter service. SVITZER MUSSELWICK has a bollard pull of 80 tonnes, and is 33.4 metres in length. She has a gross tonnage of 490 tons. Like the other tugs assigned to LNG tanker work at Milford, she has a red top to her funnel.


This interesting little ship arrived during the morning and made her way into the Holy Loch, where she berthed alongside the pontoons at the marina. HARMONY II was built as an inter-island ferry in Yugoslavia in 1955 and was originally named MOSTAR. She was later converted for the day cruise market and renamed MELTEMI II by her then Greek owners. In 1983 she joined the Epirotiki fleet and became their APOLLO I. In 1987, she came to the UK as PRINCE ALBERT and although it was intended to use her in the charter market, the venture failed and she was laid up, initially at Tilbury and later at Liverpool. In 2001 she was acquired the the Pedley Furniture with a view to being converted into a high-class conference centre and mobile dispaly for British products. After undergoing an extensive refit at Ipswich that lasted six years, HARMONY II, as she was renamed, is now able to carry 12 passengers in the utmost luxury. She was due to start an exclusive cruise around the west coast for a select party of golfers from the USA after her visit to Sandbank.


While ALEXANDRA S was waiting to head to Glasgow, another slightly more modern coaster also arrived and anchored to await the night-time tide before heading upriver. ARKLOW FAITH is one of Arklow Shipping's Irish registered ships, and was built in Spain by Murueta at their Guernica shipyard. She dates from 2006 and has a deadweight of 4,500 tonnes and an overall length of 90 metres.


Lying at Bravo anchorage before heading upriver to Glasgow, the coaster ALEXANDRA S had arrived during the night from Amsterdam. She was built in 1972 by the Bodewes Scheepswerf at Hoogezand in Holland, and was launched as WESTERBROEK. In 1985 she was renamed ALEXANDRA, and gained the suffix to her name in 1997. Since 2007, the 2,267 tonne deadweight, 76.9 metre long coaster, has flown the Cook Islands flag although she is currently owned by Norwegians.


Setting out from the Gareloch on further sea trials, the Royal Navy's new submarine ASTUTE has now completed her deep dive and full power trials. While at Faslane, ASTUTE had been undergoing a planned maintenance period. She is likely to be commissioned at Faslane at the end of August.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Also sailing from Greenock was the cruiseship CROWN PRINCESS, visiting the town in between calls at Belfast and Invergordon as she made her way around the British Isles on a 12 night cruise from Southampton.

As she headed towards the pilot station, CROWN PRINCESS was rapidly catching up on MAERSK BALTIMORE, and this view shows a considerable contrast in the size of the two vessels, and although they are roughly similar in length and breadth, the cruise ship has a gross tonnage more than double that of the container ship (113,651 tons against 48,853 tons).


The third of the five Maersk Line 'B' class container ships to leave the Clyde sailed in the evening from her anchorage at the Tail of the Bank.

As usual, she was escorted part way downriver by a local tug, and in this case the duty fell to SVITZER MILFORD, which accompanied her down to the north end of the Cumbrae.

By the time that MAERSK BALTIMORE was passing Inverkip, she had increased speed although the tug was holding her own.

With the Dalry windfarm prominent on the skyline, MAERSK BALTIMORE maintains her course south towards the pilot station at Little Cumbrae - the tug was about to assist an inbound bulk carrier inbound for Hunterston. MAERSK BALTIMORE was onher way to Le Havre and then across the Atlantic to Houston in the USA.


North Sea shuttle tanker NANCY KNUTSEN, which has been on the Clyde on a number of occasions in the past both under her current name and as FUTURA - her previous name - was seen as she exited Loch Long. The 1993-built ship had been discharging crude from the Dumbarton oilfield in the North Sea and was heading for the Griffon field.

The Last Two

With the other ships away now MAERSK BENTONVILLE (left) and MAERSK BROOKLYN (RIGHT), the last two Maersk Line container ships in Loch Striven, await their turn to leave the loch and to be returned to service. They must be moved at the same time, as each vessel holds the other in place, being anchored at the forward end only.

Monday, 28 June 2010


An unusual naval visitor arrived on the Clyde and made her way to Faslane. ZEUS is described as a 'multi-mission cable ship' and was designed specifically for the role by the US Navy rather than being adapted from a civilian vessel. She was built by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co at San Diego and was completed in 1984. ZEUS is operated by the Military Sealift Command and is manned by a non-military crew of 51, with 6 military personnel and around 30 scientists embarked also.


With MAERSK BALTIMORE visible at the Tail of the Bank, X-PRESS MATTERHORN makes her way towards Greenock to the container berth at Ocean Terminal. As usual she was arriving from Dublin and would sail a few hours later for Belfast.

Friday, 25 June 2010


Another veteran was on the river, as the 1,020 tonne deadweight coaster BOISTEROUS paid a very brief visit to Shieldhall during the day. She had arrived earlier in the day from Londonderry and was seen as she sailed for Lochaline to load timber.


A veteran coaster arrived during the afternoon from Liverpool, and headed upriver to Shieldhall to pick up a cargo of scrap metal for export to Leixoes. SALIX, which was built as BARGSTED in 1986 by Sietas at the Nueunfelde yard in Germany, is 3,022 tonnes deadweight and has an overall length of 92.1 metres. She belongs to VW Nyki Shipping, a well-known Dutch company.


Having arrived at Finnart on Wednesday 23rd, ASTRO PHOENIX, a Suezmax tanker belonging to a Greek company, was seen sailing back to Nigeria after discharging a cargo of crude oil from Forcados. Built in 2004 by Hyundai in Korea, ASTRO PHOENIX is 159,055 tonnes deadweight and is 274 metres long.


Heading towards the Holy Loch, where she load timber at Sandbank for export to Wismar, CROWN MARY was seen arriving from Wicklow. She was built in China for Dutch owners, and delivered in 2009. With a deadweight of 3,500 tonnes, and an overall length of 88.3 metres, she requires a pilot to enter the Holy Loch. She is operated by W&R Shipping.

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Regular caller on her MacAndrews service linking the UK and Northern Europe to Portugal, the container ship HELGALAND was seen making her way to Greenock as she arrived on the river from Liverpool.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Taking leave of her sister MAERSK BALTIMORE, MAERSK BEAUMONT sailed from the Tail of the Bank on Wednesday 23 June, after a stay on the Clyde that had lasted more than a year.

MAERSK BEAUMONT had been the first of the five 'B' class ships to arrive when she dropped anchor north of Cumbrae on 2nd May 2009.

She was also the first of the UK-flagged ships to move to Loch Striven, where she anchored beside and was made fast to SEALAND PERFORMANCE off Inverchaolin, in a move seen by some local residents as controversial.

Perhaps more controversial from a seafarer's point of view was her sale to a Swedish company earlier this year, and subsequent re-flagging under the Danish ensign. Three of the class of seven - the other two being laid up elsewhere - were sold and chartered back to Maersk. MAERSK BEAUMONT was escorted from the Tail of the Bank, where she had been reactivated, by Svitzer's ANGLEGARTH, as she set off on the first stage of her return to service, heading for Le Havre before crossing the Atlantic to Newark to load for the Far East.


One of the newer 'G' class products tankers in the Dutch-flagged fleet working for Brostrom Tankers is BRO GAZELLE, which joined the company in February 2009. She is 7,515 tonnes deadweight and 116 metres long. She had arrived from Eastham with a cargo of fuel for Rothesay Dock, and was seen sailing for Stanlow.

Monday, 21 June 2010

MAERSK BALTIMORE heads to the Tail of the Bank

Slowly making her way upriver, MAERSK BALTIMORE was seen as she passed Innellan. In the background is Largs and the Largs (or Hunterston) Channel, with its massive ore/coal terminal jetty.

As ANGLEGARTH and SVITZER MILFORD carefully navigate upriver, they are seen approaching Cloch Point with its distinctive lighthouse dating from 1797.

As the tugs carefully manoeuvre MAERSK BALTIMORE into position at the Tail of the Bank, her sister MAERSK BEAUMONT continues to get ready to go back into service, and the Dunoon car ferry JUPITER sweeps away from Gourock Pier. The wreck of CAPTAYANNIS lies on a sandbank well to the east of the Tail of the Bank, where it came to rest after dragging her anchor in a January gale in 1974.

MAERSK BALTIMORE leaves Loch Striven

MAERSK BALTIMORE, on the right, was the third of the 'B' class ships to leave Loch Striven, and was eased away from the diminishing raft by ANGLEGARTH and SVITZER MILFORD.

Brought ahead as both anchor cables were slowly raised, MAERSK BALTIMORE was slowly eased towards the east side of the loch so that she was more or less above her port anchor, its position marked by the small marker buoy visible just to the right of ANGELGARTH. TORCH providded guidance and was ready to remove the marker buoys from each anchor cable as the lines tethering them to the anchors became slack.

Having lain on the seabed for many months, MAERSK BALTIMORE's anchor sees the light of day for the first time since the end of June 2009.

The two tugs get to grips with the large ship and make short work of turning her round, well to the north of the other laid-up tonnage.

ANGLEGARTH continues to pull the bow round as SVITZER MILFORD drags the stern round in the tight confines of Loch Striven.

MAERSK BALTIMORE bids farewell to MAERSK BENTONVILLE and MAERSK BROOKLYN, and the local community on the shore of Loch Striven, with three long blasts on her whistle that reverberated from the hillsides on either side of the loch.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Outward bound from Greenock, Fred Olsen's BOUDICCA looked as if she was being shadowed on her departure by the Clydeport Pilot Cutter MOUNT STUART. BOUDICCA had arrived earlier from Vigo and was seen departing on her next cruise, which would take her to Gibraltar and then on an 'Inspiring Italian Cruise' to Cagliari in Sardinia, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Portoferraio on Elba and Almeria in Spain before she returns to Greenock on 6 July.


Also seen arriving on Sunday morning was COASTAL ISLE, heading from Belfast to Greenock. She and her sister, COASTAL DENIZ, occasionally deviate from their usual Liverpool-Belfast service with a quick visit to Greenock. Both ships are on charter to the Coastal Container Line, part of the Peel Ports Group.


Arriving early in the morning from Liverpool, the German coaster UPHUSEN was heading to the anchorage before continuing upriver to load a cargo of scrap metal at Diesel Wharf. UPHUSEN is one of the Bockstiegel fleet and has visited the river a number of times. She is 4,334 tonnes deadweight and 90.4 metres in length. She was built in Holland in 1996. In the background, CalMac's car ferry JUPITER lies at Dunoon Pier.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Catching the evening sun as she heads down the firth from Finnart, MAERSK BELFAST finally got underway on her short passage to Belfast, allowing MARIDA MELISSA to get alongside the southern jetty at Finnart once she had cleared the berth.


Heading down the main Firth of Clyde channel, Princess Cruises' CROWN PRINCESS had just left Ocean Terminal on her first visit of the year to Greenock. She arrived in the early morning from Belfast, and was sailing for Invergordon as she made her way around the British Isles. CROWN PRINCESS was built in Italy in 2006 and will be the Clyde's largest visiting cruise ship this year at 113,651 gross tons. She is 290 metres long, and is scheduled to make a total of five visits to Greenock.


As CROWN PRINCESS passes MAERSK BEAUMONT at the Tail of the Bank, the tanker MARIDA MELISSA heads past Dunoon on her way towards Finnart. She arrived at Brodick Bay from Plymouth in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and anchored while awaiting a berth at the Ineos terminal in Loch Long. Her passage upfirth had been a slow one, as she was waiting for another vessel to depart before she herself could start to load. Her cargo was for Copenhagen.

Friday, 18 June 2010


Two of Clyde Marine's vessels were seen heading out on evening cruises, both well laden. CRUISER, on the left, was sailing to Rothesay Bay and the Holy Loch from Greenock while CLYDE CLIPPER, closest, was heading for the Kyles of Bute. On the right, in the distance, is CalMac's CLANSMAN which on Thursday suffered from a serious machinery failure which will require repairs at the Garvel yard in Greenock. She is expected to be out of service for some time.


First of the 'B' class ships to leave the Clyde sailed on Friday afternoon. MAERSK BOSTON is seen heading towards the Ashton Buoy as MAERSK BEAUMONT continues to prepare for her return to service at the Alpha anchorage. Just visible alongside MAERSK BEAUMONT is one of Clyde Marine's tugs, acting as a support vessel for divers engaged in cleaning work on her hull.

Heading past Gourock with Svitzer's SVITZER MILFORD made fast at her stern, MAERSK BOSTON gets into her stride, moving under her own power for the first time since she anchored in Loch Striven on 20th August 2009.

Another view as she makes her way downriver, MILFORD still fast aft as a precautionary measure should anything untoward happen.

Last view of MAERSK BOSTON, heading down the main Firth of Clyde Channel and slowly building up speed, having now released SVITZER MILFORD. MAERSK BOSTON was heading for Portland, on the English Channel, where she would take bunkers before setting out across the Atlantic. She is due to arrive at Suape in Brazil on 2nd July, and then Santos a few days later.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

SAMSON and tow

A recent arrival at the Holy Loch Marina at Sandbank has been the small tug SAMSON, which is working in connection with the construction of a new sewage treatment plant for the Dunoon area. SAMSON was built in 1978 at Arklow in the Republic of Ireland and, over the years, has carried a number of names - built as GLEN ESK she later became ARGUS B then MAURA O, then in 2004 MICHAEL MCLOUGHLIN when she joined the Larne-based fleet of John McLoughlin (Shipping). In 2010 she was acquired by ABCO Diving, who are based at Donaghadee, and since has been used on various similar civil engineering projects on the Clyde at Lamalsh, amongst others.

She was seen passing Hunter's Quay heading south with a prefabricated sewage outfall pipe for installation at the new treatment works currently under construction at the disused Bullwood Quarry, a mile south of Dunoon.


Sailing from Finnart and passing MAERSK BELFAST at the entrance to Loch Long, the Maltese-flagged tanker MALIBU was seen as she got underway for Grangemouth with, presumably, a cargo of reformate. MALIBU was built in 2009 by the Samho Shipyard in Korea, and now sails for Greek owners. She is one of a large class of tankers that includes SONGA OPAL, and which are 144 metres in length. MALIBU has a deadweight of 17,527 tonnes.


Chinese built in 2005, the Maersk tanker MAERSK BELFAST was seen heading towards Finnart after she had arrived on the Clyde from Bremen to load a cargo of products for, appropriately, Belfast. Since an earlier visit to the Clyde, MAERSK BELFAST has been transferred - like many other UK-flagged ships belonging to the company - to the Danish International Register. Another vessel belonging to Maersk and currently on the Clyde that was transferred was MAERSK BEAUMONT. The change took effect on 1st April.


As she headed for Ocean Terminal at Greenock, the Maltese-registered container ship ÖLAND was seen making her way past McInroy's Point on her fortnightly service from Northern Europe to Portugal. Inbound from Liverpool, ÖLAND would be sailing in the evening for Rotterdam before heading south to Portugal.