Thames Ship Society



           2023 Review              (Updated 22nd Oct 2023) 

A review of the programme of events for 2023 is shown below.

Saturday 22nd April 2023 - Spring Social, AGM and Southampton Cruise (12:00 - 17:00)

About 40 TSS members gathered at Town Quay ready to board the Ocean Scene for our Annual General Meeting Cruise around Southampton and down Southampton Water. A short while before we departed the large containership Tampa Triumph had departed from Southampton, bound for Antwerp. The weather was a little cloudy with the odd sunny spell – much better than the rain that had been forecast earlier in the week.

On departure from Town Quay the Ocean Scene took us up to the Western Docks, which were inhabited by the Grimaldi vehicle carrier Grande Ellade and the P&O cruise ship Ventura which was preparing for an early evening departure for Vigo. At the container terminal, the rather large and pink One Tradition was berthed with her newly added bow wind and wave deflector. She had previously arrived from Tangier Med on the Far East Loop 2 service. Around the corner the smaller NYK Remus was working cargo having arrived from Halifax, Canada.

We made our way back out of the Western Docks, heading for Fawley enjoying our buffet on the way. Fawley was busy, with the Songa Jade at berth 1, Maersk Kaya at berth 2, Troy at berth 3, Stavanger Pioneer at berth 4 and the crude oil tanker Sea Turtle arriving at berth 5, assisted, unusually, by two Svitzer tugs. She was arriving from Whiffen Head in Canada.

We then headed for the River Medina at Cowes, where the new Thames passenger vessel Earth Clipper, recently completed by the Wight Shipyard was berthed. Other than the windfarm support vessel Seacat Sovereign there was no other shipping in the river. On the way back from Cowes, the committee held the Annual General Meeting. We were passed off Calshot by the outbound tanker Songa Jade heading for St. Helen's anchorage from Fawley.

On our return to Southampton we had time left to go up the River Itchen. As usual there was a number of vessels of interest, including the old tug Rita, now converted into a motor yacht. She was originally the Kapitan Engler and then the Princeton for Griffin Towage. Also moored in the river was the large yacht Lady K II a long time resident and looking rather scruffy even though she is still up for sale at just under £1m. At the top of the river at Princes Wharf was the coaster Spanaco Reliabilty which was loading a cargo of scrap for Casablanca.

As we made our way back to Town Quay for the end of the cruise, the last vessel photographed was the vehicle carrier Leo Leader at berth 38/39 in the Eastern Docks. She later departed for Bremerhaven.

All too soon our cruise was over and we were disembarking. With thanks to the members of the committee for organising the day and to the captain and crew of the Ocean Scene for looking after us so well.


P&O's VENTURA in the Western Docks.


The big pink ONE TRADITION at the container terminal...


... as was the NYK REMUS.


MAERSK KAYA was at Fawley.


The crude oil tanker SEA TURTLE arriving at Fawley.


SONGA JADE outward bound in the Solent.


The yacht RITA started life as the veteran tug KAPITAN ENGLER.


SPANACO RELIABILITY loading scrap in the River Itchen.


Vehicle carrier LEO LEADER in the Eastern Docks.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks


NEHALENNIA seen passing the Delta the following evening.


EVER ART at Maasvlakte.


PIONEERING SPIRIT at Maasvlakte Prinses Alexiahaven.


AEGEA in the Caland Canal.


HUNTER in the Caland Canal.


CAP PEMBROKE leaving Botlek after a refit.




AL FALAH ex SARA MAERSK near the Delta Hotel.


ASTORIA at Waalhaven.



Photos and report by Richard Jolliffe

Saturday 17th June 2023 - Rotterdam and Europoort Cruise (10:00 - 19:30)

26 members of the TSS joined the Nehalennia at Boompjeskade near the Erasmusbrug for the 10 am departure for a cruise round the docks in the Rotterdam area covering all areas that could be managed in the allocated 9.5 hours. Nehalennia was built as a Dutch barge but has been much converted. We were well fed throughout. There were so many ships I cannot list them all!

The weather all day was dry and very warm with little wind. It was sunny all morning but clouded over during the afternoon but remaining bright. Perfect for such a journey.

We departed slightly early and headed along the New Waterway to Maasvlakte, returning the same route but visiting the Caland Canal, Botlek, Eemhaven, Waalhaven and Maashaven. The normal return route via the Hartel Canal was not available as the lock was defective.

At Maasvlakte the massive, and very impressive, Pioneering Spirit 14/403342 was at anchor working with the barge Bumblebee 15/6000 in the Prinses Alexiahaven. Nearby was heavy load carrier Boka Vanguard 13/91784 at the Prinses Arianehaven. Ever Art 22/235579 was alongside the container terminal on the Yangtzecanal.

Marseille Maersk 18/214286 was at the container terminal near Futureland at the Prinses Amaliahaven. Opposite was CMA CGM Kerguelen 15/177381. The heavy load carrier Seaway Strashnov 11/47426 was observed loading massive pipe like structures docked in the Pr Arianehaven.

En route to the Caland Canal we passed many bulkers including Shinwa Maru 08/150918, Panagiotis 10/43817, Saronic Trader 11/51208, Federal Shimanto 01/19167, and Sakizaya Miracle 17/43446. The Canal was busy with ships such as the tankers Hunter 21/154000 gt which had just docked and Sonangol Cazenga 17/84124.

On our way to Botlek we passed the tanker Cap Pembroke 18/82099 sailing for Corpus Christi in the USA and looking so immaculate we thought it must be brand new, but the IMO number indicated otherwise. It had just had a refit at Botlek. We also had a RNLI lifeboat overtake us. We found out later why that was in Holland.

At the Botlek Dock were a number of ships including Ginga Caracal 09/16452.

Opposite the Delta Hotel was the tanker Al Falah ex Maersk Sarah 20/65631.

Eemshaven had small container ships working cargo such as BG Emerald 18/12831 with the bow high out of the water.

In Waalhaven we had what is probably our last viewing of the laid-up ex CMV cruise ship Astoria 48/16144. It had some stern damage. Yes, it was still in Rotterdam contrary to some reports.

Just before the end of the excursion we went to the Maashaven to view the old Rotterdam 59/38645, now a hotel and museum ship. The World Maritime Lifeboat Conference was being held on the Rotterdam with many lifeboats in view. That explains the RNLI lifeboat seen earlier.

We docked slightly later than expected about 19:35 after a fantastic day though many of us thought there seemed less ships in each location than normal.

Saturday 8th July 2023 (12:00 - 18:00) - Solent Cruise

Around 40 members arrived at Town Quay, Southampton, for the departure of the Solent Cat for this year’s first Solent Cruise. There had been rain in the morning, but thankfully, by the time we departed at noon, it was dry, if a little cloudy. We decided to head in the direction of Portsmouth first. The intention had been for the trip to cover the Nab and St Helen’s anchorages, instead of Portsmouth, but there were no ships in the Nab anchorage so we had time include Portsmouth Harbour as well. The Solent Cat is perfect for our needs, comfortable, a stable vessel for photography and with the speed to enable us to be in the right place at the right time for shipping movements.

First we had a look at the ships in the Eastern Docks at Southampton. P&O’s Iona was in the Ocean Dock. The vehicle carriers Centaurus Leader and Hoegh Asia were at berths 40 and 38/39 respectively. Around the corner on berth 35 was NYK Line’s new LNG Battery Hybrid powered vehicle carrier Jasmine Leader, completed early this year. We then headed for Portsmouth, passing the tankers on Fawley on the way. Fawley was busy with berths one to five all occupied. Highlights were the 2023 built BW Epic Kosan LPG tanker BWEK Beauty which had arrived from Vlore, Albania, and the Tsakos crude oil tanker Promitheas.

We then headed for Portsmouth and as we crossed the Solent the clouds started to break up with some sunshine at times. At Portsmouth the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was present, along with two Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond. The frigates HMS Kent and HMS Iron Duke were also there. Perhaps most interesting was the ex RFA Diligence which has been laid up in 3 Basin for several years, which was now on an outside berth, presumably awaiting a tow to a scrapyard.

In Portsmouth commercial port was the large cruise ship Mein Schiff 3, the largest cruise ship ever to sail from Portsmouth. Also in port was the refrigerated cargo ship Lombok Strait on the regular Geest Line service. The Musketier was also in port on her regular Channel Islands service. On the way out of Portsmouth we viewed the ex frigate HMS Monmouth laid up in Fareham Creek, awaiting her fate. On our way out from Portsmouth we were overtaken by the Brittany Ferries ship Mont St Michel on her regular run to Caen.

Next, we headed for St. Helen’s Anchorage where there were three ships, the chemical / product tanker Essex Star, LPG tanker Gas Elixir and the general cargo coaster Wilson Drogheda all photographed in nice sunshine. We then headed back towards Southampton, taking the main channel via Cowes, so that we were in a good position to photograph the departing ships from Southampton. First out was the Polsteam bulk carrier Kujawy bound for the Tees. Sadly the sun hid behind a cloud just as she passed us at close quarters! Off the Bramble turn at Cowes we encountered the next ship departing from Southampton. This time it was the Hapag-Lloyd containership Tirua, bound for Le Havre.

As we headed back to Southampton, down Southampton Water, in increasingly cloudy conditions, we passed the outbound LNG bunkering tanker New Frontier 1 which had been bunkering P&O’s Iona. She was followed out by the Princess Cruises cruise ship Sky Princess, bound for Gdynia. As we entered Southampton harbour, it started to rain so the trip up the Western Docks was rather damp. Berthed in the Western Docks, were two Grimaldi vehicle carriers, including the Grande Dakar, Spleithoff’s Stadiongracht which was getting ready for departure with a cargo of yachts for Philadelphia and the large containership One Trust.

By this time it was nearing 6pm, so it was time to return to Town Quay where the cruise ended. With thanks to the members of the committee for organising the day and to the captain and crew of the Solent Cat for looking after us so well and not forgetting our navigator Neil Richardson for planning our route to maximise photographic opportunities.


The new JASMINE LEADER in the Eastern Docks.


The 2023 built BWEK BEAUTY at Fawley.


HMS DEFENDER was at Portsmouth...

A132-Diligence---8-Jul-2023 was the former RFA DILIGENCE awaiting her fate.


MEIN SCHIFF 3 in Portsmouth Harbour.


MONT ST MICHEL outward bound from Portsmouth.


ESSEX STAR was in St. Helen's anchorage...

Wilson-Drogheda---8-Jul-2023 was WILSON DROGHEDA.


Bulk carrier KUJAWY outbound in the Solent.


The Hapag-Lloyd container ship TIRUA outbound off Cowes.


SKY PRINCESS departing from Southampton.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks


MSC LEANDRA V at Trinity Container Terminal.




WALLDIJK at Ipswich.


... as was Misje Bulk's STRAMI.


Arklow Shipping's ARKLOW ARCHER also at Ipswich.


The dredger LAVAR NUNEZ CABECA DE VACA working at Felixstowe.


The DFDS ro-ro ACACIA SEAWAYS at Felixstowe.


MSC DIANA at Felixstowe.


Evergreen's EVER ACME was also in port.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks

Wednesday 23rd August 2023 - A Sail Around the Haven Ports (12:30 - 17:00)

After a wet and dreary summer it was pleasant to be waiting in warm sunshine on Ha’penny Pier at Harwich for the TSS Thames Barge Trip covering Felixstowe and Ipswich on board the historic sailing barge Thistle.

The Thistle was launched in 1895 on the Clyde, and spent her working life trading along the East Coast to the Port of London. Her first owner was a coal merchant from Battersea, and a regular passage was collecting coal from the Humber and delivering it to the Thames. She continued in trade as a motor barge until the mid 1970’s and after a spell as a houseboat, was converted back to sail in 1987.

We set off at 12:30, under sail and made our way over towards Felixstowe. Our first objective was to photograph the MSC containership MSC Leandra V which was due to depart imminently. She was originally the Maersk Buffalo, built in 2007 and then Seago Istanbul before transferring to MSC ownership in 2022. Next to her was the CMA CGM Iskenderun.

We then proceeded up the River Orwell to Ipswich. Ipswich port was hosting three coasters. First photographed was the Waaldijk operated by Navigia Shipmanagement of the Netherlands. Second was Misje Bulk’s Bahamas flagged Swami and finally Arklow Shipping’s Arklow Archer. Once those had been photographed we re-traced our steps back down the Orwell to explore the remainder of the ships at Felixstowe.

Our first encounter was with the Jan De Nul dredger with the grand name of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca. She was performing dredging works off Trinity Container Terminal. Next to be photographed was the DFDS ro-ro Acacia Seaways which had arrived on her regular service from Vlaardingen.

At the new container terminal were two monsters. The first was the Evergreen containership Ever Acme, completed in China in December 2022 and capable of carrying 23,992 TEU. Next to her was the MSC Diana, not quite as large as the Evergreen at 19,500 TEU and dating from 2016.

Having exhausted the shipping at Felixstowe, we made our way back to Harwich where the cruise ended. Our thanks go to the captain and crew of the Thistle for looking after us so well and also to Stephen Marginson and members of the committee for organising the day.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks

Saturday 2nd September 2023 (12:00 - 18:00) - Solent Cruise

It was a misty and dreary start to the day, but, by the time TSS members were assembled on Town Quay for the last Solent Cruise of the year, the sun was shining. Once aboard our boat for the day, the Solent Cat we departed for the Western Docks. At 101 berth was the vehicle carrier Silver Soul of 1997 vintage and originally built as the Maersk Taiki with spells as the Hoegh Pusan before being acquired by Sallaum Lines in 2022.

Also in the Western Docks were the cruise ships MSC Virtuosa and P&O’s Ventura. The veteran self-discharging bulk carrier Yeoman Bank was discharging her cargo in the King George V dock. The container terminal was dominated by the huge containership HMM Le Havre. Around the corner at the other container berths were Hapag-Lloyd’s Tubul and the Cosco Glory. Once these were photographed we re-traced our steps and headed for Fawley, passing P&O’s Iona and Princess Cruises Sky Princess in the Eastern Docks.

At Fawley Oil Terminal, four berths were occupied by vessels including the crude oil tanker Nippon Princess and the product tankers Hafnia Pride and Bagheera. We headed out into the Solent via the main channel where we met the inbound tanker Baltic Freedom. Due to an incoming tide slowing us down we did not have time to include Portsmouth, so headed straight for the St Helen’s Anchorage where the chemical tanker ST Sara and the cargo ship Astrid Erika. She was the Arklow Rebel until December 2021 with the previous name clearly visible on her hull.

We then headed out to the Nab Anchorage, where the larger ships anchor. Our vessel is only allowed to operate up to 3 miles off the coast, so not all of the anchorages at the Nab are within our reach, but three tankers were photographed at close quarters, namely Orchid Madeira, Maersk Kalea and Golden Daisy. We then headed back towards the Solent, where the vehicle carrier Silver Soul was photographed as it departed for Vlissingen.

We made our way back via the North Channel to Southampton. Sadly the first cruise ship to depart, the MSC Virtuosa managed to escape before we could get back to the vicinity of Calshot, but the Sky Princess was photographed departing for Cadiz. She was followed by the LNG bunkering tanker, New Frontier I which had been bunkering P&O’s LNG powered Iona. Last out was P&O’s Ventura bound for Vigo. We got back to Southampton around 6pm after a great afternoon on the water.

Our thanks, as usual go to the captain and crew of the Solent Cat for looking after us so well, Neil Richardson who was our navigator for the day and also to Dave Smith and the other committee members for organizing the day.

Photos and report by Chris Brooks


HMM LE HAVRE dominated the container terminal.


COSCO GLORY was also at the container terminal.


Chemical tanker ST SARA was in St Helen's Anchorage...

Astrid-Erika-2-Sep-2023.jpg was the ASTRID ERIKA awaiting a berth at Portsmouth.


MAERSK KALEA was in the Nab Anchorage.


GOLDEN DAISY was also in the Nab Anchorage.


SILVER SOUL outward bound in the Solent.


Bunkering tanker NEW FRONTIER I outward bound in Southampton Water.


VENTURA departing Southampton for Vigo.


TRADER IV departing from Gibraltar Anchorage on 9th Oct.


DOLFIJNGRACHT in Algeciras anchorage on 10th Oct.


HITRA was also in Algeciras anchorage on our first cruise on 10th Oct.


MUMBAI MAERSK arriving at Algeciras on 10th Oct.


Photographed from Europa Point, the TRAVELLER arriving in Gibraltar anchorage on 11th Oct.


On our second cruise, the FILIA in Gibraltar anchorage on 12th Oct.


TANGER EXPRESS arriving at Algeciras from Tangier on 12th Oct.


WADI ALYARMOUK in Gibraltar anchorage on 13th Oct.

8th to 13th October - A Rock, Apes and Ships - Gibraltar Tour

The TSS undertook its first trip to Gibraltar for many years in early October. Members made their own way to Gibraltar and booked their own hotels to keep costs at a sensible level. Most ended up at the Rock Hotel with sea view rooms giving excellent ship watching opportunities from the window as ships came and went from the anchorages. Two cruises were undertaken around Algeciras and Gibraltar Western anchorages and this proved well worthwhile as the shipping was different on both days.

Over 350 ships were noted during the visit ranging from those calling in for bunkers, those passing through the Straits of Gibraltar and those at the container and refinery terminals at Algeciras. Ferry services to Ceuta and Tangier are frequent with Balearia and other companies operating traditional and fast ferries. The traditional ferries included ferries previously with Sealink, SNCF and Scandlines, these being the Morocco Sun (ex Galloway Princess), Poeta Lopez Anglada (ex Champs Elysees) and Morocco Star (ex Prins Joachim) respectively.

Other shipping included many loaded geared bulkers either passing through the strait or calling in for bunkers, crew change and supplies as they plied the worlds trade lanes. In Gibraltar these all meet with vessels from the Americas, Africa west coast and Northern Europe all passing through en route to the Mediterranean, Middle East, India and the Far East. Such vessels noted on the first day were ML Heron, Coe Laura, New Elly, Anthia, Mataro, Damon, CIC Rolaco and Grebe Bulker. LNG carriers were also very prominent by their presence both in the anchorages and in the straits. These included Gaslog Gladstone, Flex Artemis, BW Pavilion Aranda, Grace Emilia and Trader IV, which was re-named and reflagged whilst in the anchorages.

Cruise ships were alongside most days with Britannia, Marella Voyager, Silver Moon and Bolette noted and MSC Virtuosa passing through the straits. Container ships included many Maersk vessels with Maersk Atlanta, Lexa Maersk, Maersk Guayaquil, Mumbai Maersk and Maersk Taurus noted amongst others at Algeciras with Ebba Maersk and Maastricht Maersk noted dashing through the Straits.

Other shipping included tankers, heavy lift vessels and RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus which came alongside at Gibraltar. Altogether a superb five days with like-minded TSS members. We shall shortly return !!

Report by Stephen Marginson / Photos by Geoff Hoather

November 2023 - Ocean Liner Society Ship Show

(Currently postponed due to access issues at the venue)

The TSS will have a table at the Ocean Liner Society Ship Show (10:00 to 16:00)

The show will take place in Southampton. Venue to be advised.

TSS Committee members will be on hand to answer questions, so come along and have a chat with us.



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