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SEAFARER Spring 2018


BELFAST AT 80 As HMS Belfast turns 80, we review the warship’s action-packed service and its second life as a popular London tourist attraction


Editor’s welcome Welcome to the spring issue of Seafarer News, keeping you up to date with some of the latest news from Sea Cadets, the Royal Navy, merchant navy and shipping industry. Read about the service career of HMS Belfast, living out its retirement as a floating museum, and have a go at our nautical-themed prize crossword. We hope you enjoy the issue. Please send your feedback to seafarernews@ms-sc.org. News: pages 2, 3 & 4 Book a stay at a Titanicthemed hotel, read the latest from Marine Society and watch a Sea Cadets video. Corps in Action: page 5 Sea Cadets has been recognised for raising valuable funds, while a former cadet was part of a historic changing of the guards... HMS Belfast: pages 6–7 Learn about the action-packed career of this warship as it turns 80 this year. These days, it earns its keep as one of London’s most-loved tourist attractions. At Ease: page 8 Enter our crossword competition to win a copy of Islander by Patrick Barkham. Our Man at Sea shares his experience of juggling studying with his career and married life.

Published by MSSC 202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JW Tel: 020 7654 7000 Fax: 020 7928 8914 ms-sc.org seafarernews@ms-sc.org Marine Society and Sea Cadets is a registered charity: England and Wales 313013 • Scotland SCO37808


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

#NeverOrdinary A Sea Cadets awareness campaign highlights the positive impact the charity has on cadets by helping them develop into resilient, confident young people Cadets at Birmingham Sterling Unit described Sea Cadets as “supportive”, “amazing”, “community” and a “home away from home” in the official Sea Cadets #NeverOrdinary film – launched in February as part of a national recruitment and awareness drive. The film focuses on the tangible, positive impact the charity is having on the health, happiness and wellbeing of young people today and how it is changing lives. As part of the campaign the charity released the results of the national Sea Cadets survey, which quizzed thousands of cadets from all backgrounds, as well as their parents and volunteers, about the challenges they face growing up today – and how Sea Cadets helps in dealing with them. • Over half of cadets felt being part of Sea Cadets will help their long-term happiness and wellbeing, • Two-thirds said that they cope better in new situations, like job interviews, • 58% of girls and 41% of boys say they have experienced anxiousness or loneliness,

making the impact of Sea Cadets more relevant today than ever before. Sea Cadets Director of Operations, Captain Phil Russell RN, said: “Life can be really challenging for young people today; the world moves so fast, and that can be really difficult. With us, it’s easier to do better at school, stand out when it comes to getting on a course and finding a job.” Would you be a life changer too? Your donation will help thousands of youngsters to build the skills they need to cope better and thrive in today’s complex world – please visit: ms-sc.org/donate. To see the life changing impact of Sea Cadets, scan the QR code below – open up the camera on your phone, hover over it and the video will play. Or go to the YouTube channel: youtube.com/ seacadetsuk.

Seafarer News is edited and designed by

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.


In the Navy HRH Prince Harry has taken over from his grandfather, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, as Captain General Royal Marines following formal approval from Her Majesty the Queen. The Duke held the position for more than 64 years, until he retired from his official duties last year. Prince Harry began his military career at Sandhurst in

2005 and served for 10 years, completing two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He has taken part in a variety of projects to promote the welfare of former and active members of the armed forces, including trekking to the South Pole and organising the Invictus Games. Prince Harry took on his new duty as ceremonial head of the 6,600-strong Corps in December 2017.


Cover image: Imperial War Museum

Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN Tel: 0117 927 9009 immediatecontent.co.uk Managing Editor Edward Meens (MSSC) Editor Rachael Stiles Art Editor Elaine Knight-Roberts Account Manager Kirsten Coleman Director Julie Williams Copyright MSSC 2018



Recovery mission

GDPR is coming

The remains of a wrecked ship that ran aground are gradually being recovered after a year underwater

On 25 May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect, giving you greater control over how your personal data is used. If you would like to opt out of receiving this magazine, or to opt in to receiving emails, please email fundraising@ms-sc.org.

The wreck of cargo vessel Cabrera has been recovered after spending almost a year on the seabed. The ship ran aground on the northern coast of Greece’s Andros island, splitting into pieces and sinking to a depth of 34 metres. None of the nine crew members were injured. Salvage company SMIT Salvage and its Greek partner, Megatugs, were immediately sent to remove the vessel’s oil and part of its cargo before Marine Accident Investigation Bureau technicians recovered the vessel’s Voyage Data Recorder. The capsule was picked up by a diver from a depth of 20 metres. The Cabrera spent the next 10 months on

the seabed before SMIT Salvage and Megatugs returned to remove the remaining cargo and the stern, including the accommodation.

Future wars could be fought on the seabed

Sleep at the Titanic A new £28m luxury hotel has opened in the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff in Belfast. The 119-room Titanic Hotel Belfast celebrates the groundbreaking work of the iconic shipbuilders, who designed and built more than 1,700 ships including the Titanic. It’s part of a huge redevelopment that also includes a museum. The owners of the hotel worked closely with conservation architects to carefully restore many of the building’s period features. Art Deco and nautical touches are found throughout the hotel and the main bar

features Villeroy and Boch tiles identical to those used in Titanic’s swimming pool and first-class bathrooms. Harland & Wolff was formed by Edward Harland and Gustav Wolff in 1861 and rapidly established itself as one of the biggest shipbuilders in the world, employing 15,000 people across its 300acre site. Alongside Titantic, it designed and built White Star’s Oceanic, Majestic and Olympic, as well as naval warship HMS Belfast. (Read our Belfast feature on p6.)

Underwater cables that carry internet and telephone communications around the world are vulnerable to attacks that could “deal a crippling blow to Britain’s security and prosperity”, says a report by right-leaning think-tank Policy Exchange. Some 545,018 miles of undersea fibre optic cables, roughly the diameter of garden hoses, run along the ocean floor, carrying 97% of global communications. In a single day, around $10trn of financial transfers and 15 million financial transactions are processed via this submarine network. The paper, authored by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, highlights how these cables are poorly protected, both physically and legally, and “the threat of these vulnerabilities being exploited is growing … The threat is nothing short of existential,” he continues. “Working with global partners it is crucial that we act now to protect against these dangers, ensuring that our century’s greatest innovation does not also become its undoing.”

The newly opened Titanic Hotel in Belfast

Crazy cruises


Christopher Heaney

A new breed of cruise ships is taking onboard entertainment to stratospheric levels in an effort to attract a broader range of passengers. From robotic bartenders to sky pods, laser tag to glass submarines, “This stuff is going beyond what you get on land,” Adam Coulter, managing editor of Cruise Critic UK, told The Times.




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

2017: a year in numbers for Marine Society 38,000 seafarers

have access to Marine Society Libraries.

Safeguarding crew Representatives from Marine Society attended the 2017 Crew Connect Summit in November, a global conference that covers all aspects of crew management. Sessions covered controversial topics like the introduction of autonomous ships to training initiatives such as ‘coming ashore’, the transition to shore-based careers –

a campaign that Marine Society has supported in the UK. Taking place in Manila, Philippines, Nick Chubb and Caroline Buckland of Marine Society were at the conference to promote its Learn@Sea programme, the book and crew library services, and to join the debate about the future facing crew management, including training and welfare.


libraries supplied to vessels.

18,460 books distributed. 4,000 books

sold through Marine Society bookshop.

3,168 seafarer qualifications Learn @Sea for learners who accessed digital maths and English resources via Marine Society’s Learn@Sea app. £2.1m of scholarships awarded to seafarers.

10,300 queries handled for advice and information.

32 recipients of Slater scholarships passed their oral exams and received a certificate of competency.

177 exams sat, on site at London HQ, at sea and at naval bases.


Raising awareness Marine Society has strengthened its bond with the Royal Navy by sharing ideas for how to continue supporting learners throughout their studies Rachel Gurnett, Seafarer Education & Data Co-ordinator, and Nick Chubb, Business Developer, attended an open discussion in January with the Royal Navy NETS (Naval Education and Training Service) team. It covered the latest developments in course provision and in education generally, and how to continue growing relationships with advisers. Marine Society offers discounted tutor-supported distance learning courses for Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Personnel. Thanks to its partnership with Greenwich Hospital, it also offers spouses of Royal Navy personnel a 50% discount on courses. Both teams seek to continue working together, building on the successful relationship that helps serving personnel to meet their academic goals.

Academic accolades for learner graduates Marine Society learners topped off a successful year in 2017 with a host of academic achievements. Marine Society College learner Lance Corporal Terence Blunt is able to progress in his Royal Navy career after passing his exams with flying colours. LCpl Blunt achieved As in IGCSE history and GCSE law. These results will open doors in his career, as he can now apply for a commission. 2017 was also a successful year for Marine Society College learner Gordon Foot, who has topped his Middlesex University Award

for outstanding achievement prize at MSSC’s Annual Court with a first-class dissertation. Gordon, who has now achieved his Masters degree, has been studying at sea, and it was while he was on night shift offshore in Nigeria that he found out his grade. Gordon said, “This journey would not have been possible without the encouragement of Marine Society staff. In this technical age they also provide educational services with the understanding and processes that acknowledge the restricted connectivity of those who serve at sea.” ms-sc.org SEAFARER NEWS




A round-up of what sea cadets have been getting up to across the UK

5 6

2 3 1

1. Cadets explore London in a novel way

2. Volunteer honoured for 3. Changing dedication to the Corps of the guard

Junior cadets from Cheshunt Unit completed a Monopoly challenge in London, visiting landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. At the Tower of London, they built their own tower after drawing a ‘Chance’ card, before climbing its 311 steps. Petty Officer (SCC) Matt Tregoning, Officer in Charge, says: “They spent the day navigating the city and experiencing the Underground. They fully enjoyed it.I plan to make it an annual activity.”

Congratulations to Colour Sergeant (SCC) Mark Jones, recipient of a British Citizen Award. Mark recently started volunteering at Cambridge Unit, where he has helped to find and train new instructors, and launch a new Royal Marines Cadets detachment. “I have a young family and want my children to be able to take part in activities, so I’m happy to give my time,” says Mark. He was one of 36 medallists honoured at a ceremony in January at the Palace of Westminster.

4. Recognition for fundraising cadets

5. Sea Cadets a ‘valuable 6. Young Achiever Award asset’ says local MP for Welsh cadet

The Poppy Appeal was a family affair for Petty Officer (SCC) Mark and his daughters, Cadet First Class Athena and Cadet First Class Iona. A presentation was made at Portrush Unit in recognition of the two cadets raising more than £400 in four hours, and Mark dedicating five years to the cause. Mark says: “We sell poppies because we believe in the work of the Royal British Legion, and it’s the girls’ way of carrying on the memory of their grandad’s service.”

Cadets from Whitehaven Unit were recognised for their achievements at their annual awards evening. Local MP Trudy Harrison was among the guests at the event, which took place in January. “I was delighted to accept the invitation, and to learn a little more about Sea Cadets and the wide range of opportunities and experiences they offer young people,” she says. “They are a real and very valuable asset to the local community and I wish them continued success.”


A former sea cadet made history by captaining the Royal Navy’s changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. For the first time in more than 400 years, sailors replaced soldiers at the palace – and Lieutenant Commander Nicola Cripps RN was part of the occasion. The ex-cadet from Maidenhead Unit called it “a great honour”, adding: “In many respects, the drill wasn’t very different to cadet competitions, but the number of people watching was huge!”

Leading Cadet Courtney rounded off a fantastic 2017 by receiving Young Fundraiser of the Year at Radio Carmarthenshire’s Young Achievers Awards. Courtney, from Llanelli Unit, was recognised for her fundraising efforts over the past seven years and the amount she has done for her unit. She says: “I would like to show other cadets what they can gain and achieve,” adding: “I wouldn’t do any less. Many cadets have said they look up to me, which was a surprise.”



Ice on the superstructure of HMS Belfast, November 1943


ighty years ago, the world-famous shipyard of Harland & Wolff in Belfast played host to Anne Chamberlain, wife of then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, for the launching of one of the biggest cruisers ever built for the Royal Navy. Named in honour of its birthplace, HMS Belfast went on to enjoy a distinguished naval career that included the capture of the German liner Cap Norte, the Battle of North Cape, the D-Day landings, the Yangtze Incident, and the Korean War. Its official services finally drew to a close in 1963, which it marked by taking 300 sea cadets on an unforgettable training cruise to Gibraltar, before becoming one of London’s best-loved tourist attractions. As a floating museum, it serves as a lasting memorial to the powerful big gun armoured warships that formed the backbone of the Royal Navy in the first half of the 20th century.

Career-defining performance

Richard den Johnstone-Bry of or th is the au HMS Belfast: Cruiser 1939

A STAR ON THE WORLD STAGE As HMS Belfast turns 80 this year, discover the action-packed career of the UK’s largest historic ship, which has been a hugely popular tourist attraction on the Thames even longer than it was in service Words: Richard Johnstone-Bryden 6

Belfast’s story began with the laying of its keel on 10 December 1936 as one of the two 613foot Edinburgh class cruisers, which boasted a standard displacement of 11,550 tons, a main armament of 12 six-inch guns and a top speed of 32 knots. Belfast was launched on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1938, and commissioned on 5 August the following year. In Belfast’s first year of service, a patrol between Iceland and the Faroes at the beginning of the Second World War culminated in the capture of German liner SS Cap Norte on 9 October 1939. The liner was disguised as a neutral ship and trying to smuggle reservists back to Germany. Just six weeks later, in the Firth of Forth, a magnetic mine left Belfast very badly damaged and nearly broken in half. It took almost three years to repair; if the incident had happened later in the war, Belfast might have been scrapped. HMS Belfast was assigned to protect the Arctic convoys when it rejoined the fleet. The perilous voyages to resupply the Soviet forces that were fighting the Nazis on the Eastern Front were described by Winston Churchill as, “the worst journey in the world.” Its 761 crew endured temperatures of minus 30ºC as the cruiser ms-sc.org SEAFARER NEWS


HMS Belfast hosts 250,000 visitors each year at its home on the Thames

Earning its keep HMS Belfast’s long-term future is ultimately guaranteed by the government. However, the IWM must also generate funding via the ship’s facilities. Belfast attracts approximately 250,000 visitors every year and the admission fees are supplemented by various sources including the onboard café and quayside souvenir shop.

‘Belfast is a lasting memorial to the powerful warships that formed the backbone of the Royal Navy in the first half of the 20th century’

The second act After the Second World War, Belfast was mainly stationed in the Far East and played a key, if distant, role in the Yangtze Incident. This occurred in April 1949 when Chinese Communists attacked and blockaded HMS Amethyst while heading up the Yangtze River. That ship’s subsequent breakout was planned and overseen 500 miles away, in the Admiral’s quarters on board HMS Belfast. A year later, it fired its guns once more, while participating in the Korean War as part of the UN operations in support of South Korea. During this conflict, Belfast spent 404 days on patrol, steamed more than 97,000 miles and bombarded enemy positions with 8,000 six-inch rounds – more than it had fired throughout the Second World War. In 1959, Belfast emerged from an extensive refit in Devonport Dockyard, which included the fitting of an enclosed bridge and two lattice masts. After two Far East commissions followed by eight months in the Home Fleet, Belfast joined the Reserve Fleet on 25 February 1963, which appeared to mark the beginning of the end for the veteran cruiser. ms-sc.org SEAFARER NEWS

Encore However, there was to be a brief swansong thanks to the Admiral Commanding Reserves, Rear Admiral H C Martell CB CBE, who instigated Belfast’s final six-week commission. In contrast to earlier commissions, the ship’s company consisted of officers and men of the Royal Naval Reserve, with 300 sea cadets from across the UK and 70 medical Sub Lieutenants. Flying Rear Admiral Martell’s flag, it sailed from Portsmouth in August 1963 with the entire 10th Minesweeping Squadron and steamed to Gibraltar for the two-week Exercise Rockhaul. The cadets started each day with PT (physical training) on the fo’c’sle at 0630, followed by a range of tasks including the firing of the four-inch guns, keeping watch, launching the cruiser’s sea boats and working in the supply department. Belfast spent a week berthed alongside in Gibraltar, which enabled the cadets to enjoy swimming, rifle shooting, sailing, boat pulling and tours of the Rock. The deployment enabled the sea cadets to practise most aspects of seamanship and several naval evolutions.

Another fundraising initiative is the sleepover programme, which enables groups of up to 52 children (aged 8–18) and six adults to spend up to three consecutive nights onboard in two restored mess decks. The scheme attracts schoolchildren from across the UK who then visit some of London’s other attractions during their stay. HMS Belfast is open daily. More information about visiting can be found at iwm.org.uk.

A final bow Belfast’s sea-going career concluded when it returned to Devonport on 24 August 1963. A team from the Imperial War Museum (IWM) instigated the cruiser’s preservation. Although the government vetoed their plans, they provided the groundwork for the HMS Belfast Trust’s successful bid to preserve the ship, and it opened to the public in October 1971. By December 1975, 1.5 million visitors had explored the ship at its home on the River Thames in London, yet there were still concerns about its long-term future. Reassured by the Trust’s success, the government approved the IWM’s acquisition of the cruiser in 1978 to secure its future, and thousands of visitors still board the ship every year to discover it anew.

Images: Alamy, Getty & Imperial War Museum

ploughed through the icy waters, in addition to facing the threat of attacks by submarines, aircraft and surface raiders. Amid these arduous duties, Belfast participated in the Battle of North Cape on Boxing Day 1943, culminating in the destruction of the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst. Six months later, Belfast’s main armament opened fire on German positions in support of the Normandy D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. It continued to bombard German forces for five weeks until sailing for the Tyne to be refitted for the Pacific Fleet. The war concluded before Belfast arrived in Australia, so it participated in the repatriation of Allied prisoners of war.

The private functions hosted on board form a lucrative income stream, with a few areas specifically reserved for this, including the Admiral’s quarters and the Wardroom. The ship can cater for about 18,000 people a year across 375 events, including summer deck parties, conferences, private dinners and even weddings – it became a licensed wedding venue in 2007.




Our man at sea shares some of the trials and tribulations of climbing the ranks. And try our nautical-themed crossword...


Prize puzzle

A co Islander py of b Barkhamy Patrick more in – learn 'on read' be e to low

How will you fare in our nautical crossword?

How to enter Send your completed crossword (or a clear photocopy) by 30 June 2018, with your name, address and phone number, to: seafarernews@ms-sc.org or Seafarer News, MSSC, 202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JW. The winner and solution will be announced in the next issue.

Our Autumn 2017 winner

Geoffrey Lewis from the Isle of Wight won a copy of HMS Bulwark by Richard Johnstone-Bryden. Congratulations!

Paul Facey-Hunter

Across 1 The Naval Defence Act received the Royal ------ on 31 May 1889 (6) 4 Remove (an oar) from a fixed position (6) 8 A fore-and-aft configuration of sails (4,3) 10 Author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (5) 11 As decks are, when covered or flooded with water (5) 12 H  MS -------, a Town-class light cruiser moored as a museum ship (7) 13 Made steady using heavy material (9) 17 A mullet, perhaps, but probably not a red one? (7) 19 Equipment for detecting ... whether going east or west! (5) 21 A ----- seam joins cloths running in two different directions (5) 22 Former name of a port in Myanmar (7) 23 The ------ is a strait of the English Channel (6) 24 Sharks and whales have ------ fins (6)

Down 1 ------ Sea, an embayment of the Mediterranean (6) 2 Port and capital in south-eastern Europe (5) 3 A medium-sized toothed whale (7) 5 Relating to a nation's warships (5) 6 ------- and Woolf, shipbuilders in 12 (7) 7 ------ 30, a Roger Martin Design boat based on Ralph Munroe's 1885 sharpie (6) 9 British territory giving its name to a competition for Sea Cadets (9) 13 Current location for SS Great Britain (7) 14 Large lakeside port in North America (7) 15 River where HMS 12 is moored (6) 16 Being ------, a new museum in 13 down (6) 18 Tom -----, Irish seaman and explorer (5) 20 Traditional Arab sailing vessels with lateen sails (5)

One to read

One to visit

Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago Patrick Barkham. £20 Meet local residents from nuns to puffins when you discover just a few of Britain’s 6,289 islands, as Barkham (sometimes with family in tow) voyages to liberated islands, holy islands, deserted islands and islands with their own language. He seeks to find out what it’s like to live on a small island, what it means to be an islander and how it shapes our lives, while taking in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the British Isles.

Being Brunel at SS Great Britain, Bristol £14 for adult tickets, valid for 12 months This state-of-the-art museum, opening in spring 2018, will vividly bring to life the achievements, life and times of the iconic engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Discover his genius inventions and get to know the personality behind some of our greatest feats of engineering. Located by the floating harbour at one of Bristol’s top attractions, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, his Clifton Suspension Bridge can also be viewed nearby the museum. ssgreatbritain.org


Life at sea Our newly married seafarer shares his experience of studying for Chief Officer exams to further his career Name: Second Officer Spencer Wyles Ship: Maersk Recorder Current location: aboard the Maersk Connector in its home port of Blyth, mobilising to carry out cable laying at a wind farm in East Anglia After making it to my wedding in September (work rotation nearly stopped me), I left my wife at home the very next day and moved to Southampton for four months to attend Warsash Maritime Academy. I was going back to college to become a Chief Officer. The course equips seafarers with the knowledge and understanding required to join the ranks of senior management. In most cases, students are sponsored by the company they work for and have study leave. Unfortunately for me, I had to take six months’ unpaid leave, which was less than ideal but necessary to advance in my career. I looked for funding and found that Marine Society could help. I was aware of its Slater Fund, which supports seafarers wanting to become officers. A number of friends have benefitted from it. I was eligible for the Worcester Scholarship, which gave me £750 for books and learning materials – a huge help when I really needed it. For one assignment, I achieved the highest grade that Warsash’s most senior lecturer had ever given. I passed all the written exams but after months of effort I failed the final oral exam. It was me versus a notorious ex-captain – he could ask absolutely anything, and he did! Nerves and misinterpretation were my downfall. I can retake it, but I’ve had to return to work and have no idea when I can re-book it, and there's a three-month wait. Moral of the story: pass first time! AUTUMN 2017 ISSUE CROSSWORD SOLUTION: Across: 1 Herring, 5 Steam, 8 Tideswell, 9 See 10, 10/9 Lydia Eva, 12 Timbers, 13 Orb, 14 Stand, 16/21 Tin can, 17 Flotsam, 19 Idler, 21 See 16, 22 Dauntless, 24 Raked, 25 Harness. Down: 1 Hotel, 2 Red, 3 In stays, 4 Great Yarmouth, 5 Salem, 6 Elemental, 7 Mean sun, 11 Dubrovnik, 13 Officer, 15 Drifter, 18 Sided, 20 Roses, 23 Eye.


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Seafarer News Spring 2018  

Check out the latest issue of Seafarer News online.

Seafarer News Spring 2018  

Check out the latest issue of Seafarer News online.