Archive for the ‘Maritime History’ Category

Amazing Aerial Pictures: Titanic Replica

May 15, 2017

Amazing aerial pictures show the £105m full-size Titanic replica set to be completed by this year as a part of a grand theme park in China. It will not be a functioning ship, but a hotel/attraction.

The project is NOT to be confused with the Titanic II project where the Australian millionaire, Clive Palmer,  claimed that he was going to build a full-sized cruising Titanic replica. Well, he never did and almost certainly never will.

Titanic II – Clive Palmer Gets Cold Feet: HERE

Bodies Of 3rd-Class Titanic Passengers Tossed Overboard

Rarely does a month go by without a story about the ill fated liner appearing in the media.

Here is a recent example.

Daily Mail article: HERE

Below is a link to my article comparing the worlds biggest ocean liner  in 1912, ‘RMS Titanic’, to the biggest modern class of cruise ship ‘Oasis of The Seas’.

Titanic v Oasis of the Seas: HERE  

Malcolm

Fan Theory About Titanic Movie Changes Everything!

May 2, 2017

Jack/Leo and Rose/Kate (Capital Pictures)

Whether you love James Cameron’s Titanic movie or hate it, the story of the ill fated ocean liner continues to endure.

However a fan theory has emerged which changes the entire meaning of Cameron’s classic movie:

Jack Dawson was a figment of Rose’s imagination – WHILE she was on board the ship.

Let’s examine the evidence.

The classic ‘poor little rich girl’, Rose Dewitt Bukateer was one unhappy soul. So much so, Rose suffered from a psychotic episode on board.

First of all, she was engaged to be married to a man she did not love, because their family had fallen on hard times.

Her mum wasn’t exactly the warm-and-friendly type kind either.

Remember when Rose and Jack met? He talked her out of ending her life.

Jack, although penniless understood Rose in a way that her fiance Cal did not.

Also, recall Jack’s words of encouragement to Rose: “If you don’t break free, you’re gonna die.” He’s telling Rose to stay alive – and live well.

Having come along at a troubled and vulnerable point in her life, the theory goes Jack is the embodiment of her inner-strength and resourcefulness.

There’s NO trace that Jack was ever on board. As an elderly lady, Rose tells the treasure hunters, “No, there wouldn’t be, would there?”

Then, of course, there is the fact that Rose allowed Jack to freeze in the sea without offering to share her driftwood.

On the other hand did Rose paint herself? Did Molly Brown’s Tuxedo attend dinner by itself?

You can decide!

(Daily Mirror)

Titanic II – Clive Palmer Gets Cold Feet: HERE

Titanic v Oasis of The Seas: HERE

Disney Ship Navigates The New Panama Lock

April 30, 2017

(Courtesy Disney)

On the 29th April, cruise ship ‘Disney Wonder’ today became the first passenger vessel to sail through the Panama Canal’s new expanded locks, the first of 18 cruise ships scheduled to make the journey during the 2017-2018 season.

The expanded locks, which opened in 2016, allow larger vessels to make take the journey than before.

‘Disney wonder’ would have fitted through the old lock. However larger ships will make the Panama Canal transit for the first time this year, including ‘Caribbean Princess’, which is wider than the maximum allowed through the old locks.

(Disney)

Panama Canal history: HERE

Saga Ruby/Caronia To Be Scrapped

April 5, 2017

Caronia (Cunard)

The last British built cruise ship, still in operational condition, which entered service in 1973, has been sold to breakers in India.

This 24,492 gross tonne, 655 passenger, cruise ship was built as ‘Vistafjord’ (Norwegian America Line) by Swan Hunter, Newcastle, became ‘Caronia’ (Cunard) and spent her last years as ‘Saga Ruby’ (Saga Cruises).

She sold in 2014 for use as a floating hotel in Myanmar, Burma, which never happened.

Saga Ruby (renamed ‘Oasia’) is currently under her own power and is expected to arrive off the Indian ship breakers yards in Alang, 5th April 2015 at 17.30 hrs.

R.I.P.

Malcolm says: I’ve never been on board ‘Ruby’ but it is always sad to me when a  ‘classic’ ship ends up at the nautical graveyard of Alang, India.    This one is particularly sad, because Ruby represents the end of the era when Britain was the ‘workshop of the world’ and built great ships. We no longer build cruise ships at all.

Unfortunately there are few uses for an old cruise ship. Floating hotels do not tend to work, with a few notable exceptions: the RMS Queen Mary and the SS Rotterdam. I guess Ruby will become razor blades or similar? Her fixtures and fitting may find their way to restaurants, bars and hopefully collectors.

On a more positive note, Saga are building their first new ‘small’ ship, ‘Spirit of Discovery’ (see link below).

Slide-show ‘Saga Rose’, Dover 2006: HERE

New Saga ship ‘Spirit of Discovery’: HERE

Art Deco Lover

September 10, 2016

I do love a bit of Art Deco architecture. This was the style that became first became popular in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Art Deco influenced the design of almost everything from paintings, jewellery, clothing, buildings, furniture, cars, movie theatres, trains and ocean liners.

During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Cunard’s original RMS RMS Queen Mary (1936) ocean liner has wonderful Art Deco interiors.

Southampton’s original ‘Ocean Terminal’ also had an Art Deco design and décor to compliment the ocean liners of the day. Unfortunately they knocked it down to build a car park!

(Southampton's 1950 Ocean Terminal)

(Southampton’s 1950 Ocean Terminal)

Fortunately the United kingdom still has some wonderful Art Deco buildings that have been well preserved.

In 2011 I visited the Midland hotel, in Morecambe, Lancashire, on the UK coast. Built in 1933, this 40 bedroom Hotel was an Art Deco marvel. She initially thrived, but would eventually fall into disrepair in the 1990s.

In 2008 her refurbishment was complete. The architects had combined her original feature with some modern facilities.

In 2014 I was lucky enough to visit Burgh island,  a small Tidal island on the coast of South Devon in England near the small seaside village of Bigbury-on-Sea.

There are several buildings on the island, the largest being the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel and a Pub the Pilchard Inn.

Part of the Hotel is actually shaped like the stern of an old frigate and has a keel. Inside is a ships wheel.

The island is approximately 270 yards from the mainland and is approachable on foot at low tide. At high tide, the sea tractor, which is operated by the hotel, transports passengers back and forth.

The holiday island of ‘Jersey’ (one of the UK’s ‘Channel Islands’) is located nearer the coast of France than it is from the cost of Britain.

This beautiful little island (5 x 9 miles) which still has a lovely 1937 Art Deco Airport building, along with a new terminal building. However I am saddened to hear that the Art Deco building may be demolished in the future.

Malcolm

Crystal Drops SS United States Project

August 5, 2016

Following an intensive, six-month evaluation, Crystal Cruises has announced that it has dropped its plans to rebuild and reintroduce the SS United States into service.

In February, Crystal and the SS United States Conservancy announced they had entered into an exclusive option agreement with the goal of converting the iconic 1950s-era vessel into a modern, luxury cruise ship that would comply with all modern safety and technical standards – which would have been unprecedented for a single vessel refurbishment. Crystal said it commenced a comprehensive feasibility study and professional evaluation, convening a world-class team of engineers and experts while incurring over $1 million in costs.

According to Crystal, the technical feasibility study regrettably concluded that while the ship is remarkably intact and structurally sound, modifying the ship for today’s standards for oceangoing service (SOLAS) would require significant changes to the hull that would pose stability challenges. Additionally, the installation of a modern, state-of-the-art diesel electric propulsion plant would have necessitated altering of the existing shaft lines and rebuilding about 25 percent of the hull to reconfigure the ship to a twin shaft-twin rudder arrangement. While it was known that the vessel would need to have been essentially rebuilt from the inside out, these specific challenges, among others, collectively posed significant risk to the success of the project.

“Our company has great affection for this historic and irreplaceable vessel, and we will be making a $350,000 donation which will help support the Conservancy preserve the vessel through the remainder of the year,” said Edie Rodriguez, president and COO of Crystal. “We firmly believe the SS United States is an American treasure and deserves to be preserved and redeveloped as a stationary destination for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

(Crystal/Cruise Industry News)

SS United States: NCL’s Broken Promises: HERE

Exploring the decaying SS United States: HERE

Malcolm says: Such very disappointing news! Crystal are the second cruise line (see ‘Broken Promises’ above) to strongly suggest that they would return this legendary ship back to service.

You would think that a responsible cruise line would do the feasibility study first, BEFORE suggesting that they would return the ship back into to service. After all Crystal even prepared some concept rendings of the renovated ship – see above.

What were Crystal thinking? After all, they have never operated historic ships before. Crystal are all about ‘luxury’ and NOT ‘nostalgia’.

I’m no navel architect, but an aging Ocean Liner must be a little like a vintage car. If you decide to renovate a rusty one and get it road-worthy again, you are going to spend a small fortune. The restored car is never going to perform as well as a new car or be as comfortable. You are very unlikely to do this for profit, it’s normally done for love.

It’s always going to be cheaper to build a brand new cruise ship, than attempt to renovate an old one which complies with modern safety standards and includes todays creature comforts.

For example the hulls of old ocean liners often do not meet the modern regulations for stability.

Even Cunard’s fleet are three state-of-the-art ships themed to resemble historic Ocean Liners, inside and out. However they still offer all of the modern amenities, expected by modern consumers, including  hundreds of balcony cabins.

On the subject of Ocean Liners, Clive Palmers ‘Titanic 2’  turned out to be a rich mans five minute wonder!

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

May 30, 2016

I recently spent the day at the Chatham historic dockyard, Kent, UK. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in maritime history.

80 acres in size, it has over 100 buildings and structures – the majority of which were constructed between 1704 and 1855. Today it is the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail in the world. 

By the mid-18th Century the Royal Yards had developed into the largest industrial organisations in the world with complex facilities supporting thousands of skilled workers in a wide number of trades. Indeed it was the level of the facilities and skills provided in the Royal Dockyard’s, particularly at Chatham that underpinned the Royal Navy’s success at sea – from victory in battle; through the epic voyages of discovery made by Cook, Darwin  and others.

Did you know that the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, was built at Chatham dockyard?

Above is a short slide show to give you a taste of what is on show.

Official website HERE

Have you been? Did you enjoy it?

Malcolm

Oldest River Vessel

April 29, 2016

 

(Courtesy Gota Kanal)

Cruis Blog reader ‘Max M’ suggested that after discussing the biggest river boats (here) we should discuss the oldest.

I have done a little research and it would appear that the oldest registered marine vessel with overnight accommodation, is in fact a vintage steam canal boat called M/S Juno.  Juno was built in 1874 (yes, 1874) and has 29 passenger cabins.

M/S Juno operates on the 120 mile Göta Canal between Stockholm and Gothenburg, built with the help of Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.

In fact there are three vintage vessels on this route: The M/S Wilhelm Tham was built in 1912 and their youngest ship, is the M/S Diana, in 1931.

More Information HERE

Doulos – The Oldest Ocean-Going Ship

The Medina was built in 1914 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. She was a freighter serving the Atlantic; during World War II she served with the United States Coast Guard.

The Panamanian company Naviera San Miguel SA acquired the Medina in 1948; they renamed the ship the Roma, and converted her into a passenger ship with cabins for 287 people, and dormitories for an additional 694 people.

In 1952 Naviera San Miguel resold the Roma to Linea Costa, an Italian company. At this time the SS Roma, a steamship, was converted into a motor vessel and renamed the MV Franca C. She carried passengers between Italy and Argentina. In 1959, the Franca C was adapted into a cruise liner, principally cruising the Mediterranean.

In 1977, Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All) acquired the Franca C, and renamed her the Doulos (Greek for servant). She was manned by a volunteer crew and made sea port visits worldwide as a missionary ship. The MV Doulos held the biggest floating library in the world. Normally there were somewhere between 3000 to 5000 books on the shelves and half a million in the hold.

She made her last world tour in 2009 and was de-commissioning at the end of 2009 due to expense of making her compliant with SOLAS (maritime safety) regulations .

The ship is currently known as the MV Doulos Phos. She is now owned by Mr. Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.

There are plans to use the ship as a floating hotel with restaurants, a bookshop and a banqueting hall. However such plans do not always come to fruition. The QE2 is a prime example.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Malcolm Says: As Doulos is no longer operational as cruise ship, this raises the question what ocean going ship is now the oldest? anybody know?

I got to go on-board MV Doulos in 2004, when she visited Southampton. Her interiors were quite a mess, looking more like a Hippy peace-camp than an historic ship. However you could certainly still see some of the Costa décor in places.

The SS Norway Remembered

March 20, 2016
SS Norway in Southampton waters 2001

SS Norway in Southampton waters, 2001

In 2008 the Norwegian Cruise Line’s  SS Norway was cut up on a beach, in Alang, India, and disposed of.

She entered service in 1962 as the ‘SS France’ Ocean Liner. She was the glory of  France’s glory – a ship of state.

She was decommissioned in 1974 and left to rust in the era when the jet aeroplane replaced the ocean liner as the preferred meth of intercontinental travel.

However in 1979 she was purchased by NCL and renovated, returning back to service in 1980 as the then biggest Caribbean cruise ship. Although only medium sized by modern standards, It can be argued that she started the era of the mega-cruise-ship.

I was lucky enough to take her final Transatlantic crossing on the SS Norway, on 2nd September 2001, from Miami to Southampton.  I know that many of you have very fond memories of this special ship. Why not join me?

You can read some background information here and my ‘Final Transatlantic’ review: HERE

Malcolm

Hotel Ship

February 1, 2016

Continuing the topic of the SS United States (below) and her possible future, here is a slide-show of the SS Rotterdam, now a successful hotel ship in Rotterdam:

Have you cruised on the SS Rotterdam or visited/stayed on-board the Hotel?

The Onassis Yacht

December 29, 2015

It’s not all about big ships:

The Christina ‘O’ (1943) was moored in London in 2012 and open to the public for a short period.

John & Jackie Kennedy and Winston Churchill were regular guests of millionaire Aristotle Onassis, before Jackie later married him.

Here are my images of this charming and very historic yacht:

SS Great Britain

March 31, 2015

I have recently returned from an excellent weekend in Bristol, UK.

Bristol has been an important seaport for more than a thousand years.  The term “ship-shape and Bristol Fashion” is said to have originated from Bristol and refers to their ability to build strong ships, that can sit on Bristol’s Avon river bed, when the tide goes out, without sustaining damage.

One of the highlights is visiting the ‘SS Great Britain’, now a museum ship.

The SS Great Britain is a former passenger steamship, which was very advanced for her time. She was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship.

She was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the time of 14 days. Her four decks provided accommodation for a crew of 120, and 360 passengers who were provided with cabins and dining and promenade saloons.

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position. In 1884 the SS Great Britain was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, the vessel was towed back to the UK, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, she is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour.

Malcolm

Web site: http://www.ssgreatbritain.org

Titanic Hotel, Liverpool

March 21, 2015

Last month I had an excellent weekend break in Liverpool, UK.

I stayed at a newish hotel “30 James Street” which was the former offices of the ‘White Star Line’ (owners of the Titanic).

Below is a slide show.

I have now written a full review of my stay at the hotel, which unfortunately is not very favourable:

My review: http://wp.me/PfRKD-2YK

Hotel web site:

http://rmstitanichotel.co.uk

The Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

February 8, 2015

I recently visited Greenwich (London) which is on the Thames and is famous for its nautical connections. The two main attractions are the ‘National Maritime Museum’  and the ‘Cutty Sark’.

The ‘Cutty Sark’ is an historic 1869 Tea Clipper, built on the Clyde, Scotland, which has been on display in Greenwich (in dry-dock) since 1957.  The ‘Cutty Sark’ is in fact the last surviving tea clipper and fastest and greatest of her time.  However in 2007 she was seriously damaged by fire, during a renovation.

Some five years later and £45 million pounds later the ‘Cutty Sark’  was returned to her former glory. I had been a few times to see her over the years, as a child and as an adult.  I tried to visit her in 2012 shortly after she re-opened, to see the restoration. However she was a victim of her own success with queues snaking out of the door, so I gave her a miss.

I finally got to see her in January 2015.

I am pleased to say that she looks better than ever – inside and out. Although some  of her timbers were lost in the fire, many were also off-site in storage. You cannot tell the difference now.

Cleverly they have raised her up (like the SS Great Britain, In Bristol) by three meters so she looks down, more majestically than ever, over Greenwich. You you can walk right underneath the hull. There is even a café down there and display of historic figure-heads. There is a new entrance/foyer area with an enlarged gift shop. Visitors enter the hull and work their way up the ships inner decks to the open deck.

I’d certainly recommend a visit if you are in London.

Below is my slide-show, taken on my recent visit

Malcolm Oliver

Cutty Sark/NMM Web Site: http://www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark

My visit to the Nat. Maritime Museum: http://wp.me/pfRKD-1ur