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SEAFARER Autumn 2016


Battle of Atlantic seafarers recognised with silver salvaged from the conflict

SEA CADETS ON PARADE Cadets demonstrate commitment and skill at the Trafalgar Day Parade

HMS TERROR DISCOVERED The expedition to find Franklin’s lost ship, unseen for more than 150 years



Some of the latest stories from the Royal Navy, the world of shipping and the Sea Cadet Corps

Microbead ban sees marine life protected The small plastic beads found in face washes, deodorants, body scrubs and toothpaste are to be banned from household products by 2017, the government has revealed. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has called on the government to do more to protect the

News: pages 2, 3 & 4 Trafalgar Day, a change in the tide for microplastics in our oceans, and more... Corps in Action: page 5 See what Sea Cadets have been up to around the UK, from marking 500 years of the Royal Mail to competing in windsurfing. The Battle of the Atlantic: pages 6–7 A new set of coins marks the Merchant Navy’s contribution to WWII. Marine journalist Richard JohnstoneBrydon tells the silver’s story from seabed to Mint. At Ease: page 8 Enter our crossword competition to win Sealink and before, a tour of the UK’s coastline. Meanwhile, our Man at Sea gets nostalgic for the lost art of navigating by the stars.

HMS Terror found in mint condition

Honouring Nelson Cadets gave yet another performance to be proud of at this year’s Trafalgar Day Parade. Hundreds travelled from across the country to gather in London on 23 October to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar and those who lost their lives. Three months of intense preparation went into the various performances, which included a Physical Training demonstration, a Glee Club performance, a semaphore flag display by Juniors, and a display of military precision by the 88-strong Massed Band of the Sea Cadets. With just three days to practise together as a group, all that hard work and preparation paid off as

they put on a spectacular and professional performance for the public, officials and VIPs in attendance. Lance Corporal Josh from Barnsley Unit was leading the parade. “I feel more nervous than excited – I’m at the front, so if I get something wrong, everyone sees it,” he tells us. “But it feels like if you can do this you can do anything – it doesn’t get much bigger than marching down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, with hundreds of cadets behind you. It’s a real confidence boost. I’m planning on joining the Royal Marines Band Service, so this is perfect experience for the future as well.”

Published by MSSC 202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JW Tel: 020 7654 7000 Fax: 020 7928 8914


Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN Tel: 0117 927 9009 Managing Editor Edward Meens (MSSC) Editor Rachael Stiles Art Editor Elaine Knight-Roberts Account Manager Hannah Mann Director Julie Williams Copyright MSSC 2016

Royal Greenwich is host port for London’s iconic tall ships event in 2017! Get on board a historic tall ship and see an international fleet sailing out of Royal Greenwich in an exciting regatta to mark the 150-year anniversary of the Canadian confederation. Enjoy four days of live music, entertainment and fireworks at the Tall Ships Festival 2017.


Seafarer News is edited and designed by

Cover image: Getty

Printed in the UK on FSC ® certified stock. All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of MSSC and Immediate Media Co. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of MSSC or Immediate Media Co, which accept no responsibility for them.


Royal Navy tests unmanned speedboat

Both ships on the failed 1845 Franklin Expedition became trapped in ice

Tourists around Tower Bridge were given a sneak preview of the Royal Navy’s unmanned speedboat, MAST (Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed), as it made its way along the Thames. The 32ft-long craft can be operated via remote control and will form part of the Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise, which takes place this autumn and is designed to showcase the Navy’s new unmanned maritime systems.

Researchers have discovered the second ship from Franklin’s doomed expedition, where all crew perished after being trapped by the ice One of the two lost ships of British explorer Sir John Franklin has been found at the bottom of an Arctic bay, The Guardian newspaper reports. Researchers say that HMS Terror is in pristine condition and could hold clues to what really happened on the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition. HMS Terror and HMS Erebus were abandoned in sea ice in 1848, just north of where the wreck was discovered, during Franklin’s doomed attempt to sail through the North-West Passage. Search parties looked for the ships for 11 years following their disappearance, but found no trace. All 129 men on the expedition died. The Guardian says that a team from the

Arctic Research Foundation discovered the wreck some 60 miles south of where historians believed Terror was crushed by ice. Its three masts were broken but it was still standing with all hatches closed and almost everything stowed. HMS Erebus was found two years ago.

New technology for oil spills Oil spills cause untold damage to the environment, impacting marine wildlife and habitats. Detecting spills in their earliest stages can help to minimise the damage and prevent oil from reaching land. A tool called SeaDarQ uses radar-based technology to spot oil spills across large distances before they wash ashore. This is vital, as oil is much easier to clean up when it’s floating on water, rather than sticking to rocks or laying on the beach.


Marine Society and Sea Cadets is a registered charity: England and Wales 313013 • Scotland SCO37808

environment from plastic microbeads, which environmentalists say cause more damage than larger pieces of plastic, as they can be ingested by marine life and enter the food chain. Over 680 tonnes of microbeads are used in the UK every year and one shower can deposit 100,000 particles into the sea.

UK MOD Crown Copyright 2016

The annual Sea Cadets Trafalgar Day Parade SEAFARER NEWS

Polar Ocean Challenge

Welcome to the autumn issue of Seafarer News. This issue brings news of shipping, improvements in marine conservation, and Arctic explorers. Read about the silver that was at the bottom of the sea and is now being used to commemorate the contribution of seafarers during times of conflict, and have a go at our nautical-themed crossword competition. We hope you enjoy the issue. Please send your feedback to


Editor’s welcome


It was first used in 2002 to help cleanup efforts after the oil tanker MV Prestige split in half during a storm off the coast of Galicia. It helped workers detect oil during the night, so the recovery vessel could work around the clock. The technology is now advanced enough to distinguish spills from algae, and variations caused by wind and shadows from land or vessels. It also sets off an alarm when a new oil spill is detected and can calculate where it’s heading.

Success for Polar Ocean Challenge British adventurer David Hempleman– Adams’ Polar Ocean Challenge has completed its quest to sail the Arctic’s North-East and North-West passages in a single season. The yacht left Bristol in June and travelled anticlockwise round the North Pole. The project was launched to highlight the decline of sea-ice in the Arctic, which in September reached its second-lowest level ever recorded by satellites. 3



MARINE SOCIETY NEWS Bringing you the latest stories from Marine Society, supporting seafarer development and education

CORPS IN ACTION A round-up of what Sea Cadets have been getting up to across the UK 6

Outstanding results Learners with Marine Society have excelled themselves in this year’s GCSE and A-level examinations. An outstanding 100% of learners passed their exams with over three-quarters (78%) achieving A*–B at GCSE and 67% getting A*–B at A-level. Marine Society’s results prove that learners, no matter where they study in the world, can get the qualifications they need to take their career to the next step.

GCSE and A-level tuition for RN spouses

Merchant Navy Day Marine Society recently attended the annual Merchant Navy Day commemorative service at Trinity Square Gardens, London, in memory of all seafarers who have given their lives in service to our nation. The event honoured the brave men and women who kept our nation stocked with essential supplies during

both world wars, and celebrated modern day merchant seafarers, who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half of the food we eat. The Red Ensign – the Merchant Navy’s official flag – was flown on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs across the UK to mark the day.

Annual Court On 12 October, over 120 MSSC members, trustees and supporters gathered at Trinity House, London for the charity’s AGM. Marine Society were delighted to present their annual awards. First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, presented the prestigious Thomas Gray Memorial Trust Silver Medal, won by Lt Cdr Chris Trelawny, to Captain Kevin Slade, Chairman of the Merchant Navy Training Board, on Chris’ behalf whilst he is posted abroad. The MCA Officer Trainee of the Year Award was presented to Robert Bellis by the Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP. Robert is also a Sea Cadets volunteer, currently OiC at Ellesmere Port Sea Cadet Unit. Other awards were presented to: Sgt Martin Carey, who received the Oxford Open Learning Award for outstanding achievement in GCSE/A-level studies. Captain Michael Golding MN and Kyle Frederick received the National Extension College Awards for outstanding achievements in GCSE or 4

For a number of years Marine Society has provided GCSE and A-level tuition via distance learning and examinations around the globe for Royal Navy personnel on operations. Now, with support from Greenwich Hospital, who have been supporting the RN since 1694, Marine Society are delighted to be able to extend this funding to the spouses of Royal Navy personnel (which is defined as anyone who is living as if married with a serving member). Spouses do not receive RN Standard Learning Credits as serving personnel do, but the generous funding on offer from Greenwich Hospital will cover 50% of the full cost of a course – for example, a student’s contribution to a GCSE would only be around £230 (usually £460). For further information, visit


3 1


1. Guard of honour

3. Watersports success

Sea Cadets from London greeted the Lord Mayor of City of London and the Lady Mayoress with a guard of honour as part of the grand opening of the annual Sheriffs’ Ball on 23 October. The Guildhall provided a stunning backdrop as guests from the City joined the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, Alderman Charles Bowman and Dr Christine Rigden, to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal – where Sea Cadets are one of the Lord Mayor’s chosen beneficiaries.

Cadets from the Midlands have competed at the RYA Midlands Team15 event for the first time. They raced against fellow youth windsurfers in difficult conditions on what was an incredibly windy day. All of the cadets did exceptionally well, especially Cadet Caitlin from Peterborough Unit who took bronze in the 4.5m fleet race and achieved the Merit Award for her determination in challenging conditions. Many thanks to the volunteers who helped cadets during the day.


5. Royal Mail celebrates Sea Cadets tall ship TS Royalist sailed into Liverpool Docks as part of Royal Mail’s 500th anniversary. In the build up to the unveiling, TS Royalist recreated the voyage of a historic mail ‘packet’ ship, sailing on a four-day voyage from Greenock to Liverpool with Royal Mail staff letters on board. Cadets helped to deliver mail to postal workers’ families in Liverpool’s Canning Half Tide Dock and were greeted by a Royal Mail horse and cart, which was being used to transport packages on the last leg of their journey.

4. An excellent parade Newsletter launched to support learners A-level studies. Glenn Tonner received the Middlesex University Award for outstanding achievement in BSc Professional Practice Studies. Robert Szymeckzo received the Open University Award for outstanding achievement in studies towards BA Leadership and Management. The John William Slater Award for outstanding achievement in Officer of the Watch Unlimited Studies was awarded to Alex Boulton (pictured).

Marine Society has launched a new Learner Newsletter to keep students updated on course developments, celebrate successes and provide a platform where they can share their views. It will include important dates and deadlines to help students stay on track with their learning, and news of the other services on offer. All Marine Society learners will automatically receive the newsletter by emails. SEAFARER NEWS

2. New yachts Sea Cadets have kicked off the campaign to fundraise £900,000 for two new yachts, which will replace TS Vigilant and TS City Liveryman after 16 years of service. Martin Coles, CEO, signed the first contract for one Rustler 42 yacht at Falmouth Haven and cadets from Falmouth & Penryn Unit were on hand to celebrate. The yachts will enable more young people to go on voyages for years to come. When young people go offshore, they learn new skills and have lifechanging experiences. SEAFARER NEWS

Over 140 cadets from Southern Area took part in their sixth annual parade at HMS Excellent, on Whale Island in Portsmouth, in September. Commodore Philip Warwick RN inspected a 24-cadet guard and band of 30, while Commander Mike Dreelan RN and Commander (SCC) Karen Kristiansen inspected the remainder of the platoons. Commodore Warwick presented the coveted Drill Instructor’s whistle and chain to Leading Cadets Emily and Nancey for qualifying as Cadet Drill Instructors. Cadet Corporal Kurt was presented with his Gold Wings for completing the SCC’s highest aviation course with top marks. Cadets from Portsmouth were presented with their 2016 efficiency award.

6. Grand unveiling Portrush Sea Cadets had the honour of welcoming HM The Queen for the unveiling of a life-size bronze statue of Sergeant Quigg in his hometown of Bushmills. He was awarded the Victoria Cross in July 1916 after spending seven hours making forays into no-man’s land to bring back wounded comrades during the Battle of the Somme. Cadets from Portrush Unit stood to attention during the service to pay their respect to Sergeant Quigg. 5



An allied convoy off the east coast of Britain

“Our merchant seamen displayed their highest qualities [during the Battle of the Atlantic], and the brotherhood of the sea was never more strikingly shown.”


Winston Churchill

Seafarer contribution to WWII is set in silver The efforts of civilian seafarers in the Battle of the Atlantic have been recognised with a set of coins, made of silver salvaged from the conflict. Richard JohnstoneBryden explores the Merchant Navy’s contribution to the longest campaign of the war


he sacrifice and courage of the civilian seafarers who played a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic has been commemorated by a specially-designed set of five coins, issued on behalf of the British Merchant Navy by the Government of Gibraltar via the London Mint Office. As a poignant memorial, these coins have been struck in 99.9% genuine silver recovered from the wreck of SS Gairsoppa, sunk by a German U-boat at the height of the conflict in February 1941. The 412ft cargo steamship was launched on 12 August 1919 by Palmer’s Tyneside shipyard for the British India Steam Navigation Company, and spent the next two decades transporting cargo to the Far East, Australia, India and East Africa. As the clouds of war began to gather in the 1930s, the British government approached Gairsoppa’s owners about the possibility of


its ships coming under government control in the event of a national emergency, to transport essential supplies. The outbreak of WWII in September 1939 brought these plans into play, while the sinking of the liner Athenia – without warning – to the north west of Ireland, signalled the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic. It proved to be the longest-running campaign of the war and concluded just 48 hours before Germany’s unconditional surrender, when an American destroyer sank its U.881 off Newfoundland. During the intervening 2,073 days, approximately 30,000 Allied merchant seamen and defensive guns’ crews were lost. A total of 2003 Allied merchant ships were torpedoed by German U-boats in the North Atlantic, while surface raiders, aircraft and mines accounted for another 310 ships.

Despite the heavy losses, maintaining the flow of raw materials and supplies via the Atlantic was crucial to the outcome of the entire war. If the Germans had succeeded in cutting off these vital resupply routes, the nation would have been brought to its knees – a point underlined by the UK’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who wrote in his acclaimed account of WWII: “The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air, depended on its outcome… Our merchant seamen displayed their highest qualities, and the brotherhood of the sea was never more strikingly shown.”

Precious cargo The story of how Gairsoppa became one of the campaign’s many victims began in December 1940 when it sailed from Calcutta, SEAFARER NEWS

India with 7,000 tons of cargo that included pig iron, tea, and a secret shipment of silver that was then worth £600,000. The ship subsequently joined convoy SL64 off Freetown, having rounded the Cape of Good Hope, bound for Liverpool. Disaster struck the convoy when the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper caught sight of the 19 slow-moving, unescorted ships on 12 February. The cruiser’s gun crews claimed five ships before the convoy scattered. As SL64’s survivors fled northwards, they ran into a severe gale two days later, which significantly increased the elderly Gairsoppa’s consumption of its rapidly dwindling supply of coal, as she tried to maintain momentum against the potent combination of high winds and ocean swells. By dusk, the ship’s captain, G H Hyland, concluded that he no longer had enough coal to reach Liverpool and decided to seek sanctuary in the Irish port of Galway. The lone steamer was spotted on 16 February by a long-range Fw200 condor bomber, which passed on her position to Captain Ernst Mengersen in U.101 who closed in for the kill that night and fired four torpedoes at the 5,237-ton cargo ship. One of these fatally wounded Gairsoppa by exploding in No2 hold which also caused the foremast to come crashing onto the deck and snap the wireless antennae, thereby preventing the ship from sending out a distress call. Within 20 minutes, Gairsoppa had slipped below the icy waters of the North Atlantic, approximately 300 miles off the Irish coast, and subsequently came to rest 15,420ft below the surface, nearly 3,000ft deeper than Titanic’s wreck. Of Gairsoppa’s 85-man crew, 35 members initially survived, having abandoned their ship under machine gun fire from the SEAFARER NEWS

U-boat. They tried to reach safety in one of the ship’s lifeboats under the command of Second Officer R H Ayres. However, a deadly combination of hypothermia, drinking seawater and fading resilience steadily took its toll. Just seven men lived long enough to see the Cornish coast 13 days later before six of them died when the boat capsized while they tried to bring it ashore. The sole survivor, Second Officer Ayres, hung on long enough to be rescued by the Lizard lifeboat.

From the wreckage The British Government had insured Gairsoppa’s privately owned cargo of silver under its War Risk programme and became its owner when it paid the claim associated with the ship’s loss. The chances of the government ever recouping its payment seemed remote until advances in deep sea recovery techniques raised the possibility of tempting a specialist company to bid for the exclusive salvage rights to the cargo in 2010. The competitive tender process was won by American company Odyssey Marine Exploration, which assumed the risk, expense and responsibility for the search, cargo recovery, and marketing of the cargo, in return for 80% of the net value of the silver. Having discovered the wreck in 2011, Odyssey spent the next two summers conducting recovery operations, resulting in the salvage of 2,792 silver bars weighing approximately 110 tons – a feat recognised as the deepest and heaviest recovery of precious metal from a shipwreck. The Battle of the Atlantic commemorative coins will now pay a lasting tribute to the seafarers who paid the ultimate price.

For all seafarers The lead coin from the salvage – ‘For All Seafarers’ – is a £20 coin that can be purchased for £20. The additional four coins in the set are ‘half crowns’ and they can be bought for £49.99 each. The revenue from the sale of the coins will fund a donation from The London Mint Office to the Merchant Navy Association, which works tirelessly to bring recognition to Merchant Navy veterans and the critical and strategic role of the Merchant Navy in times of conflict. For more information, go to or call 0800 970 4328

Commemorative coins in everyday circulation Collecting commemorative coins with a nautical theme can be as simple as looking through your spare change, thanks to the Royal Mint, which has been responsible for making the realm’s coins for over 1,100 years. It estimates that there are some 28 billion British coins currently in circulation, including a trio of £2 coins adorned with designs to mark notable maritime events.

Mary Rose, 2011 To mark the 500th anniversary of the maiden voyage of King Henry VIII’s flagship, John Bergdahl’s design depicts the Tudor warship in her prime, bristling with cannons, banners and streamers.

Trinity House, 2014 A lighthouse design was issued to mark the quincentenary of Trinity House’s Royal Charter. Best known for its network of lighthouses along the English and Welsh coastlines, Trinity House has saved countless lives by making it significantly safer to navigate some of our most treacherous waters, while its remarkable architectural legacy has defined the identity of several coastal communities.

WWI, 2015 In honour of the Royal Navy’s role in the First World War, the Royal Mint issued a design depicting three battleships, overflown by a seaplane.




Our leisurely back page: celestial navigation, a nostalgic journey around Britain’s coastlines, and a chance to see Turner’s seascapes

Prize crossword

! WcoIpN y of

How will you fare in our nautical crossword?

A Sealink and before

How to enter Send your completed crossword (or a clear photocopy) by 28 February 2017, with your name, address and phone number, to: or Seafarer News, MSSC, 202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JW. The winner and solution will be announced in the next issue.

Our summer issue winner John Gurton from Sheerness won a copy of Memories of a Ben Line Man by Stuart Edmond. Congratulations!

Paul Facey-Hunter

Across 1 Radar system for detecting and tracking 5/18 down (7) 5 ----- Harbour is a natural harbour of Dunedin (5) 8 At right angles to the fore-and-aft line (5) 9 A rope used to hoist a sail (7) 10 See 13 Down 12 Auxiliary vessel used as a mobile or fixed base for other smaller vessels (5,4) 14 Swinoujscie and Szczecin are ------ ports (6) 16 Birds living at the water’s edge (6) 19 SS ---------, a British merchant ship sunk off SW Ireland in 1941 (9) 21 Command chief on a US Navy submarine (abbr.) (3) 23 A bird such as the kittiwake (7) 24 Cunard offer luxury ----- suites on their three Queen ships (5) 25 Logs are used to measure a ship’s ----- (5) 26 Volcanic island off Iceland, formed in 1963 (7) Down 1 Hold course in a particular direction (5) 2 John -----, one name for the 17th-century pirate known as Long Ben (5)

3 Fleets of ships such as that of Philip II of Spain (7) 4 Heavily armed merchant vessels used as Naval decoys in both world wars (1-5) 5/18 U  nfortunate outcomes of accidents involving the Torrey Canyon and Atlantic Empress (3,6) 6 Whitehaven-built sailing ship, lost in the Atlantic in 1866 (7) 7M  ythical Greek king Sophocles compared to a helmsman (7) 11 The wreck of the 19 was only discovered 5 years --- (3) 13/10 Victory celebration held annually on October 21 (9,3) 14 HMS -------, aircraft carrier previously known as the Ark Royal (7) 15 Accommodation for farm animals at docks (7) 17 A major port of South America (3) 18 See 5 Down 20 Anti-submarine mortar weapon used during the Battle of the Atlantic (5) 21 C  ommemorative ----- were made from silver salvaged from the 19 (5) 22 Make fast a line around a fitting (5)

One to read

One to see

Bruce Peter – £24 Sealink and before is a nostalgic photographic journey around Britain, recalling the fleets of British Railways and its continental partners that worked Scottish, Irish Sea, South Coast, Channel and North Sea routes. The book is richly illustrated and accompanied by commentary from three well-known writers on ferry history. A fascinating read for ferry enthusiasts and maritime historians.

JMW Turner: Adventures in Colour Turner Contemporary, Margate, 8 Oct–8 Jan. Free admission A presentation of 100 works by the “great sea and landscape painter” (The Telegraph), including a large selection of his watercolours of Margate. The exhibition focuses on Turner’s distinctive, sometimes eccentric use of vibrant colour to create dramatic landscapes and seascapes. More information: turnercontemporary. org.

Order from marinesociety Sealink and before to buy it John Hendy, Justin Merrigan, for £15


Life at sea Our man at sea on the lost art of navigating by the stars... NAME: Second Officer Spencer Wyles SHIP: Maersk Recorder POSITION: 55* 27.9’N 008* 26.1’E Alongside in Esbjerg, Denmark, conducting maintenance When I was a cadet, navigating by the stars was one of my favourite things, and I did my best to keep it up once I qualified as an Officer. Slowly but surely, my time was taken up with other tasks. Like most industries, seafaring has become heavily computerised. Passage planning is now routinely conducted on a computerbased chart system or ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems). This has done little for sharpening skills, but of course it’s done wonders for time-saving. An alternative to paper charts, ECDIS continuously determines a vessel’s position by integrating information from GPS, radar, echo sounder, automatic identification systems and other sensors, designed to heighten situational awareness and reduce workload for the officer of the watch. But if you ask any navigator who sailed before the advent of computer-based systems if they thought paper charts should be replaced, I suspect the answer would be a resounding ‘no’. I have colleagues who are uneasy with using an electronic only system, and there is rarely any discussion of the information’s accuracy; it’s taken as gospel. Following an accident, we often hear the term ‘over reliance’, in reference to GPS, AIS or radar. With this in mind, surely it would be wise to keep paper charts as a back-up? Give me a pencil, parallel rules and a three-point fix any day, and the next time I’m deep sea I shall endeavour to plot by the stars. After all, that can still be done when the power goes out!

SUMMER ISSUE CROSSWORD SOLUTION: Across: 1 Jutland, 5 Paper, 8 Marco, 9 Ease off, 10 Sprit, 12 Detect, 14 Indefatigable, 17 See 4 Down, 18 Canal, 19 Seatown, 20 Xebec, 22 Busan, 23 Codline. Down: 1 Jump ship, 2 Tar, 3 Aport, 4/17 Dreadnought, 5 Push-tug, 6 Poop cabin, 7 RAF, 11 Red corals, 13 Jellicoe, 15 Foghorn, 16 Titanic, 18 Coxed, 19 Sub, 21 BVI. SEAFARER NEWS

Seafarer News Autumn 2016