The Vancouver Branch of the World Ship Society (otherwise known as The World Ship Society of British Columbia) welcomes any World Ship Society member, as well as visitors, to its monthly meetings. If you think you might be interested in finding out what we do, please attend one of our monthly meetings as our guest. All visitors are warmly welcomed.
Upcoming Programs and Activities
► JANUARY MEETING — Wednesday January 14th, 2015 — WATERWAYS OF EUROPE - river cruiseships, tour boats, ferries and motor barges on the river systems of mainly Germany and France, by Ray Warren..
► FEBRUARY MEETING — Wednesday February 11th, 2015 — T.B.A.
► DECEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday December 14the, 2014. Our December meeting began in great style with a long social period gathered around Joan Thornley’s delightful treats amid much merriment. Mike Brown kindly supplied two visual objects of enjoyment for us in the form of a Statue of Liberty Clock and a Charles Lindbergh tapestry made in France in 1927. We were a small but select group representing members some of whom have participated in the Society since close to its inception. It was a pleasure to see Ted Karanka, Anthon Dekkers, David Chamberlain, William Etchell, Rod Logan, Don Brown, Ray Warren, Glenn Smith, Joan Thornley, Mike Brown, Robert Etchell and Neil England. We wish all of you who are members of the Society and who were unable to make the meeting a very healthy, cheerful and restful December.
The Annual General Meeting commenced with the submission and acceptance of executive reports and the new board (Ray Warren, Glenn Smith, Joan Thornley and Cecil Woods) was acclaimed. Developments for those not present include the possible winding down of the Branch in 2015 unless something dramatic happens to our membership. This situation has been developing over time and is due to the decline in memberships, the aging of our members, and the concomitant decline in revenue. The new Executive will keep members abreast of any new developments. The situation is still considered to be fluid, however this is a heads up for those living at a distance that we may not continue forever as a Branch.
Our members’ night presentations began with Ray Warren’s photographs from his summer vacation in Normandy. The highlight of the talk centered around Juno Beach where the Canadians landed on D-Day. We saw shots of the Douve River where the Canadians entered and some fine photos of Mulberry Harbour, and Gold Beach where the Americans landed. This writer was interested in the huge caissons in Mulberry Harbour placed there to form an artificial harbour in 1944.
During Ray’s presentation we learned that one of our now-deceased members, John Crosse, volunteered for Normandy at age 14 and later became a pacifist following his war experiences.
Ray also showed photographs of Mont St. Michel, the site of an ancient fortification, now a tourist destination, built upon a 264 foot rock formation one kilometer off the northwestern coast at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. A community was built on Mont St. Michel over the course of 500 years between 1017 and 1521, with the Island briefly serving as a prison after it was handed over to the French government for preservation in 1874. Many thanks go to Ray for providing us with a glimpse of his photos
Next, Bob Hunter gave a presentation of Bert Post’s photographs from the 1970s and 1980s. Post was a CPR engineer who left his photographic collection to the West Coast Railway Association. This evening we saw a selection of Burt’s photos of the Princess and Victoria Liners including the PRINCESS MARGARET in 1969, the PRINCESS PATRICIA in 1981, the SEAFORTH NAVIGATOR, the ROYAL VICTORIAN in 1994, and the QUEEN OF PRINCE RUPERT. We also enjoyed a photo of the unfinished SPIRIT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA being towed to Victoria to be assembled. We extend out thanks to Bob for going through his collection of Bert Post’s photographs and making these excellent views available to us.
We look forward to seeing you all again in 2015.
►NOVEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday November 13, 2014. James Conwell began “members’ notes” this evening with an update on the SS MASTER. The vessel received $50,000 worth of work at the Seaspan dry dock which went very well and all involved were most pleased with the excellent treatment she received. She is now in Steveston for the winter. On the return voyage, unfortunately, the Chief Engineer of the MASTER had a health episode, however a retired Chief Engineer from Seaspan, Jack Dickson, saved the day and stood in place as a volunteer engineer.
Jim then told us about his recent trip to Manhattan where he took the Circle Cruise around the island. He visited the air craft carrier INTREPID which was he found to be impressive with its two dozen aircraft on the flight deck. One of the last Concords was on display and a Cold War diesel powered submarine with nuclear launch rockets was on display. Thanks to Jim for his contribution to members’ notes.
President Ray Warren gave a report on the November executive meeting noting that Neil England, Syd Heal and Ellen Ramsay will be standing down from the board at the December AGM. Joan Thornley will remain on the executive but will no longer serve as programme director. If anyone is willing to commit some time to the duties required as programme director or for the board it would be much appreciated if they would let a member of the current executive know before the December AGM. Glenn Smith will be continuing as the North American representative to the WSS international organization but will no longer act as webmaster for the international. He will continue as membership secretary and treasurer for our branch. Cecil Woods will continue as Ship’s Log editor and asks us to let him know if we want to see any changes to the publication.
The executive decided that the organization will continue until May and then a decision will have to be made considering the future of the branch. It was observed that like many branches of the WSS, the membership is aging and we have been unable to replenish the organization with new younger recruits.
Captain Tom McLean gave the evening presentation on his voyage aboard the GOOD SAMARITAN traveling from Jacksonville, Florida up the Amazon River to Manaus in 1987. The vessel was built in Canada in 1961 formerly known as PETITE PORTE serving in the Atlantic Marine in the Newfoundland and Labrador Coastal Service, and then was donated to Mercy ships in 1983 where she was renamed ISLAND MERCY in 1994. She was sold to Philippine interests in 2001.
Tom McLean was volunteer Captain on board the medical ship just after she had been retro-fitted with a used air conditioner, a much needed addition to the vessel on her Amazon voyage. Tom showed us many excellent photographs including shots of the confluence of the Amazon River with the Rio Negro and the Ocean showing the distinct line in the water reflecting the different colour of the waters. We saw some fascinating photos of the colonial architecture and docks with ships and Manaus, the largest port city in the Amazon with some remarkable shots of the cattle ships. The photos of the impenetrable rainforests of Brazil were particularly poignant given the rapid deforestation that has taken place there. Many thanks go to Captain McLean for an entertaining evening. ǂ
►OCTOBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday October 8, 2014. We welcomed President Ray Warren back to our meeting after his Viking cruise from Prague to Paris in September. He has promised us a presentation with a selection of his photos (he has over one thousand) from the trip.
Members’ notes began with news from Robert Etchell about the move of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia from Bastion Square in Victoria after 49 years to the bottom floor of the Canadian Pacific Steamship Terminal building in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The Museum will close its doors at it current location on October 21, 2014 and hopes to reopen in its new location in the summer of 2015. The current museum attracts 20,000 visitors annually. The Bastion Square building was the first major public concrete building built in British Columbia according to the museum’s website. The new location in the refurbished CPR building will offer 6,000 feet of space for exhibitions. While the new museum will not be significantly larger than it was at the old location, it is hoped the new location in the same building as the Robert Bateman Gallery will attract more visitors.
Robert Etchell reported that he and Bill have visited Len McCann and that Len’s condition remains the same. Don Brown and Rod Logan have spoken with Syd Heal and report that he is better and has had the cast removed from his arm. Many thanks go to Robert, Bill, Don and Rod for visiting our members who have been unable to attend meetings recently.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen technical difficulties, Captain Tom McLean was unable to give his presentation this evening. We look forward to him speaking at a forthcoming meeting instead. Tonight therefore we looked at a DVD entitled QE2 provided to us by Robert Etchell. This film was produced as a tribute to the Cunard cruise ship and transatlantic liner and discussed the history of the vessel from 1969 to 2008. The film looked at her requisitioning for the Falklands War in 1982, her conversion to diesel in 1986/7, her refurbishment in Hamburg in 1994, further refurbishment by Carnival Corporation in 1999, her move to full time cruising in 2004 and her final retirement in 2007 followed by her final trip in 2008 to Dubai. There was some nice film footage of the QE2 passing the QUEEN MARY 2 in 2003 when the RMS QUEEN MARY 2 succeeded the QE2 as the flagship of the liner. There was also film footage of the spectacular firework display that celebrated her farewell voyage at Southampton Dock en route to Dubai.
The film included a lengthy interview with Captain Ron Warwick who explained that the name of the ship included the Arabic numeral 2, rather than the Roman II, so that the ship’s name would not be confused with the monarch after whom she was named. Other long-serving members of the crew were also interviewed.
Thanks go to Robert for supplying us with this DVD at an opportune time. We look forward to Tom McLean’s presentation at a forthcoming meeting.ǂ
►SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday September 10, 2014. n the absence of the President Ray Warren who was on a Viking Cruise from Paris to Prague, Ellen Ramsay stepped in to chair this month’s meeting. Members of the Vancouver Branch of the WSS were greeted back from their summer recess and were invited to contribute notes from their summer maritime activity. James Conwell addressed the membership on the current progress of the SS MASTER and the SS JEREMIAH O’BRIEN. His notes were as follows:
SS JEREMIAH O’BRIEN …….. I crewed on the ship for her May Memorial Cruise in San Francisco Bay and my turn at steering came just before passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Although I have done this several times before, it was still a thrill!
Since my US Coast Guard document as an Able Bodied (AB) Seaman expires this year, I checked with the Purser to determine if they wanted me to renew it. The Purser said yes because the Coast Guard requires the ship to have a crew with current documents. If I pass the physical and written test, I will be one of the oldest AB’s in the US.
I discussed with the Chief Engineer about the Cape Breton’s triple expansion engine which is in North Vancouver and due to be disposed of. This engine is the same as the one in the JEREMIAH O’BRIEN. The Chief Engineer is in the process of obtaining part of the engine. He wanted the whole engine, but the shipping cost was prohibitive at $175,000.
Other than this, the ship manages to stay operational. She will cruise again in October for Fleet Week.
SS MASTER …... The planned trip to Bowen Island for their Union Steamship Days in July was cancelled at the last minute due to a steam line break. Fortunately the damage was limited and 15 feet of pipe were replaced.
On the weekend of September 20-21, the MASTER will be the Prima Donna for the first annual tugboat festival at Granville Island. Upward of ten other tugs will be at the dock or will steam by. On Sunday the MASTER will lead a parade of tugs in False Creek and English Bay.
On September 29, the SS MASTER will be dry-docked at Seaspan in North Vancouver. Her bottom will be cleaned, inspected, and painted. Her Rudder will also be checked. Seaspan will donate the cost of dry-docking, cleaning and painting. end of report from Jim Conwell.
Joan Thornley next gave a quick presentation on the executive meeting of September 3 and will give a fuller report at the next membership meeting.
Following members’ notes, the evening program commenced with two films supplied by long-time family member, Robert Etchell (thanks Robert!). The first film entitled, Dover: Gateway to Europe was a one hour presentation on the ports of Dover and Calais with a focus on the P&O ferries, Seafrance ferries and the Norfolk Line. There was a brief look at the fine architecture of the buildings in the towns related to the business of the ports, followed by a very fine study of the ferry vessels, a few cruise ships, and some freighters that service these ports. We were introduced to the BLACK WATCH and BOUDICCA of the Fred. Olson cruise line, the P&O’s PRIDE OF KENT, PRIDE OF DOVER, PRIDE OF BURGUNDY and PRIDE OF CANTERBURY, and Sea France’s RENOIR and MANET.
The second film was entitled, BC Tugs (2006) focusing on the logging operations in Quatsino Sound. This was a delightful 20 minute presentation on the tugs in that location.
We look forward to the return of our President in October and to an interesting autumn programme. ǂ
► MAY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday May 14, 2014. Our meeting opened with several important members’ notes. As we learned last month, June Etchell is recovering well and we may look forward to seeing her at new season in the autumn. We learned tonight from Robert Etchell that his father, Bill is also recovering and so we look forward to seeing him also in September. Len McCann is still indisposed and those wishing to send him greetings are encouraged to contact Joan Thornley. Member’s notes were concluded with us wishing Ray Warren a very pleasant trip in September. Our president is traveling aboard a Viking cruise ship from Prague to Paris during that month and so we look forward to seeing him in October and hope that we may see a glimpse of his trip from his photos at our December members’ night.
Our evening speaker was Syd Heal addressing us on the personalities behind the Seaspan business. His talk was a lesson in business history starting with an overview of the early mergers and purchases of the company leading to a study of the individuals who passed into leadership of the business leaving their imprint on its operations. Syd focused much of his attention on Svein Stokke, Gerry Wang, Graham Porter and Dennis Washington and elucidated the complexities of their business relationship here at home and internationally.
We hope that our members and other readers of this column spend a fruitful time in the summer observing local and global waters and the vessels thereon. Please remember to observe safety precautions at all times while operating a craft or climbing aboard a ship. We look forward to seeing you all in September .ǂ
► APRIL MEETING REPORT — Wednesday April 9, 2014. Our April meeting commenced with a warm welcome to members of the BC Historical Map Society. We are most pleased when our public program converges with their interests and hope to see them again at forthcoming meetings.
During “members’ notes,” Ray Parkinson added a story of interest about his wartime experience as a medic during the Second World War in the Aleutian Islands. Robert Etchell extended his mother’s regrets for her absence this month. We look forward to seeing June soon at an upcoming meeting of the Society.
Our evening speaker was Dr. Andrew S. Cook, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and member and friend of the Vancouver Branch of the WSS. Until 2012, Andrew was an archivist at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Library and has a longstanding interest in nineteenth century British Admiralty charts. Andrew’s talk tonight was entitled, “Harry Goodsir, Lost Naturalist of the Franklin Arctic Expedition.”
Our speaker reported that forensic and archival research had been undertaken to identify the remains of a member of Franklin’s crew, buried at Greenwich, as Harry Goodsir, a naturalist on board the HMS EREBUS. Goodsir’s remains were somewhat difficult to identify as, unusually, none of his immediate family had any descendants, making DNA testing unavailable. Work on dental enamel and an unusually early gold filling, as well as facial reconstruction and a contemporary daguerreotype have almost conclusively identified the remains of Harry Goodsir.
In addition to recent forensic archaeology, Andrew Cook discussed at some length the information made available in the correspondence between Goodsir and his sister Jane Ross Goodsir. In particular he mentioned the search efforts and the campaign led by Lady Jane Franklin, to find the HMS EREBUS and TERROR.
The search for the two vessels caught the attention of the public in the nineteenth century. Andrew showed us samples of the correspondence of Jane Goodsir in a PowerPoint presentation and read relevant passages that provide evidence of years of persistence by family members to locate loved ones.
A considerable portion of Dr. Cook’s talk focused on the various routes Franklin may have attempted in his exploration of the Arctic and on routes made by ships sent by the Admiralty Office as part of the searches for the Franklin expedition. He explained in detail why the searches failed to locate EREBUS and TERROR including a description of the fluctuating conditions of Arctic ice that sealed the entrance to Peel Sound (leading off Lancaster Sound), hampering subsequent searches.
Following the talk, questions from the audience enquired about the ownership and legal status of the waters in the Arctic, asked about the Northwest Passage, the effects of global warming on Arctic ice, and the evidence for cannibalism at the end of the expedition.
Dr. Andrew Cook gave us a very full and entertaining account of the searches for the EREBUS and TERROR and the records left of the life of Harry Goodsir, thanks to his sister Jane. We are grateful to our speaker for an interesting evening and hope he will visit and perhaps speak with us again on future visits to the west coast of Canada. ǂ
► MARCH MEETING REPORT — Wednesday March 12, 2014. Nicholas Howard was the Guest Speaker at the March 12, 2014 meeting. He started his presentation with a short personal introduction, remembering the first time he saw the sea at the age of 11, from the top of the South Downs, a range of chalk hills facing the English Channel town of Brighton.
Following a short period in the Civil Service in London and noting that promotion would be at a glacial pace, he joined the Merchant Navy and signed up with the Peninsula & Orient Steam Navigation Company (more popularly known as P&O) in the Purser Department and went off to sea, initially having in mind to do so just for a couple of years. After his first cruise, due to seasickness, he thought this was not going to be his future, but stayed the course and fifteen years later swallowed the anchor to settle ashore in Canada.
His first of seven ocean liners contracts was aboard the SS ORCADES of P&O on a Mediterranean cruise followed by mainline voyages to all the oceans and continents on such ships as the SS CHUSAN (the first P&O liner to make a world cruise) and the SS ARCADIA. The First Class comforts of these ocean liners now pale in comparison to the present one-class cruise ships. For example the restaurants had linoleum decks, whilst the lounges were carpeted. If the weather changed without advance warning to allow all the “fiddles” around the table edges to be raised, the china, cutlery and glasses would slide off, crashing to the deck, breaking and causing a horrendous sound.
The final eighth and ninth ships were the MV SEA PRINCESS and the MV SUN PRINCESS of Princess Cruises, the latter designed exclusively for cruising, which he worked on from 1979 until 1982. The MV SUN PRINCESS was seasonally based in Vancouver for Alaska in the summer, in Los Angeles for Mexico in the fall and in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the Caribbean winter season. This was his final seafaring port of call.
In his presentation Nicholas showed photographs, appreciatively provided by Ray Warren, of several ocean liners (nearly) all retired now) and of new cruise ships. He described how older passenger ships adapted and evolved. Although older ships could be super-structurally redesigned, the curved stern could not be changed to the newer transom sterns now found on all cruise ships. The bow though could be redesigned from vertical to curved and even have a bulbous bow added, again now the standard for all cruise ships.
The SS CANBERRA’s revolutionary design also incorporated weight saving lifeboats made of fiberglass positioned at a lower level, offering passengers a better view looking down, forward and aft. Later in her career, which spanned from 1961 to 1997, she earned the nickname the “Big White Whale” when requisitioned by the British Government as a troopship for the 1982 Falkland Islands War. She avoided being targeted by the Argentinian Air Force (Fuerza Area Argentina) whilst anchored in Falkland Islands as it was believed she was a hospital ship.
Nicholas worked on the SS ARCADIA for seven years. She cost £6,664,000 when built in 1954 and for several years travelled from the UK to Australia transporting not only regular passengers but also British emigrants for a mere £10.00 per person. If emigrants changed their minds after settling in Australia and decided to return to the “Old Country” they would have to pay the full cost of a voyage ticket (£120.00 in 1962) which was a large sum in those days.
When the fuel crisis occurred, and following the Suez Canal closure (1967-1975) voyages were re-routed via Cape Town to Australia. On one occasion during the 1970’s fuel crisis the SS ARCADIA had to cancel a 14-day Hawaiian cruise and remain at anchor in Vancouver harbour as the SS ORIANA had requisitioned her bunker fuel in Honolulu whilst enroute to Australia.
Nicholas’ presentation brought up memories from the photographs Ray provided of many old ships, between them:
● the RMS SYLVANIA, built in 1957. She carried both passengers and cargo, changing name several times, including MV DAWN PRINCESS, with her last name being the MV ALBATROSS operated by Phoenix Riesen
● the Union Castle Steamship Company operated a number of vessels between Southampton and South Africa, mainly passenger service with a valuable Royal Mail contract, cargoes of wine, fruit and a special area for gold bullion. They stopped for water in Las Palmas, Canary Islands which was the halfway point on the two weeks passage between the UK and South Africa with container ships and the jumbo jets both sources of business rapidly declined and the passenger service ended.
● the Royal Viking Line ships: SEA, SKY, and STAR were all stretched during their careers adding a midship section of cabins, and increasing the original 20,000 GRT to 28,000 GRT. Over the years these ships changed names and companies several times currently named the MV BOUDICCA, MV BLACK WATCH and MV PRINSENDAM;
● the MV MONA LISA was originally built in 1966 as the SS KUNGSHOLM. During the course of her career she also had several names, including MV SEA PRINCESS for both P&O and Princess Cruises. During a refit from SS KUNGSHOLM to MV SEA PRINCESS the forward dummy funnel, built for design purposes only, was removed with the intention to have lounge and bar in this area but renovation cost overruns resulted in cancelling this. She is now retired as an ocean going vessel and renamed as the VERONICA hotel-ship in Oman;
● The ships of the TV series “The Love Boat” (pilot program filmed on the MV SUN PRINCESS and then switched to the MV PACIFIC PRINCESS) changed the public concept of sea vacations and revitalized the passenger shipping industry into what we see nowadays.
Mentioning the MV SUN PRINCESS, originally named the MV SPIRIT OF LONDON, Nicholas reminisced of the days when sailing in Alaska the crew would raise funds for various local charities by putting on a “boat race” in Skagway, lowering the heavy and unwieldy lifeboats, pulling on oars but always having a motorized lifeboat handy to pull them back to the ship, and how on a particular cruise in Alaska he met a lady who is now his wife.
Many questions were raised, about the accuracy of the TV show, if labour unions on ships cause issues (none), on how we now hear more than in the past about illness on ships but still in proportion to the number of passengers on the mega cruise ships. Then the evening ended with one-to-one conversation between Nicholas and the members present.
► FEBRUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday February 12, 2014. The February meeting of the Vancouver Branch was opened by our president, Ray Warren, to members’ notes. James Conwell informed us that Robert Allan’s involvement with the SS MASTER is proving very helpful. Allan’s company has donated about $10,000 to the MASTER and she will be going into drydock for about a week’s upgrading between her moorage at Steveston and Granville Island in the summer. During the third weekend of February she will be open to the public at the Britannia Shipyard. Syd Heal has also contributed to the promotion of the MASTER by writing an article on her which is due to be published in the next issue of BC Shipping News Don Brown noted that there was no car carrier at the Fraser Wharves for two weeks which is unusual. There was discussion amongst those present who watch the docks regularly as to the possible reasons for this. Apparently Mitsui has left the dock and Port Metro Vancouver has purchased the dock as part of an effort to preserve industrial land. Those with more information on this might like to bring their comments to the public meeting in March. Ray added that the land beside Silver City Entertainment in Richmond has also been purchased by Port Metro Vancouver for industrial use.
Those present welcomed Pete Favelle to the meeting. Pete has been an international member of the WSS since the late 1960s and has recently joined the Vancouver Branch. He is a commercial photographer. We look forward to seeing Pete at future meetings and are most pleased to have him as a new branch member!
Our evening speaker was Captain John Horton, marine artist and master mariner, addressing us on the Canadian Lifeboat Institution (CLI) and their two vessels, STEVESTON LIFEBOAT and FRASER LIFEBOAT (formerly FAMOUS GROUSE). The CLI, founded in 1981, is a search and rescue organization patrolling the Strait of Georgia and the Fraser River operated by volunteers and funded by private donations.
John owns and works aboard STEVESTON LIFEBOAT, a craft built in Pearl Harbour 70 years ago. She can do extended patrols of 24-48 hours, has two radars - a 36 mile heads up and a 75 mile Arpa as well as a computerized navigational system that supplements the paper charts. She has a fully equipped class A-A1S that plots commercial movement and works on safety patrols with the commercial fishery on the Fraser River. Her job is to get the commercial fish nets out of the way when a large vessel is passing through. There are some 400 vessels fishing the Fraser River and each year the commercial traffic gets busier. In reduced visibility vessels can be seen on radar, the nets cannot, so STEVESTON LIFEBOAT provides a valuable escort service. She is credited with keeping Seaspan, amongst other operations, going during the last fishing season in dense fog.
FRASER LIFEBOAT is a Tyne Class Lifeboat, 47 feet in length with twin GM diesel engines capable of operating at a top speed of 18 knots. She is 27 years old but this vessel, like other RNLI lifeboats, was completely rebuilt every five years. This craft was purchased from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in May 2013 to provide a faster and more capable vessel. The RNLI has moved to the new Tamar class lifeboats and so offered FRASER LIFEBOAT at a reduced price. They have recently built a training college with a 4 foot wave pool.
During question period, Captain Horton answered enquiries concerning the funding of the CLI, the nature of the herring season, and the insurance of the crafts. We would like to thank John for a very interesting and informative presentation and hope that he will return as a speaker in the not too distant future. Thanks also go to Mary Horton, John’s marketing and administration agent, for attending the meeting and speaking with us as well as managing the book table for the event.ǂ
► JANUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday January 8, 2014. Our meeting commenced with the reading of the minutes of the January 6th executive meeting by Joan Thornley. Thanks go to our resilient recording secretary for a concise account of the meeting and also for co-coordinating a great program of speakers for the months ahead. Thanks also go to James Styba for bringing a delicious cake for us to celebrate Len McCann’s recent birthday. Happy birthday Len! It was also a pleasure to see the recently “retired” Dr. Ray Parkinson at our meeting again.
Captain Stephen Brown, President of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, launched our 2014 season with an address on container and tanker shipping in B.C. Stephen shared with us an account of his background in shipping. He started at the age of 16 as a cadet and junior officer with the Furness Withy Group followed by a stretch as a ship’s officer and Master with Salen, the Swedish reefer fleet (1973-1983). This was followed by five years as Master with Jardine Matheson & Co Ltd of Hong Kong (1983-1988), primarily sailing on ships in the Gearbulk fleet which were fully or partially owned and managed by Jardines.
After 21 years of seafaring, Stephen was recruited ashore as Operations Manager for Gearbulk in Southern Africa (1988-1991), General Manager with Tianjin Xingang Sinor Terminal Ltd in Northern China, a Gearbulk joint venture (1991-1994), Senior Operations Manager in Indonesia, and then on to the UK head office of Gearbulk as Senior Vice President of Operations. Finally, Stephen opted to come to Vancouver in 1997 as Gearbulk’s Senior Operations Manager with coastal operations responsibility from Alaska to Panama. After 10 years he moved on to Tidal Transport and Trading before accepting the position of President of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia effective September 1 2008.
The Chamber of Shipping was founded in 1923 with a core membership of ship owners ranging from Teekay Corporation and other large firms to small one-man offices. It also represents agency companies, pilots, ports, terminals, surveyors and lawyers amongst others and advocates for the marine industry with government. The Chamber is also very involved with matters of maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships, all regulated by the International Maritime Organization, a subsidiary of the United Nations. In recent years the Chamber has also taken on an advocacy role in explaining to governments and the general public the safety record of shipping in the context of new project developments.
Stephen began his talk with an amusing anecdote and a question about the world’s largest container ship, the MÆRSK MCKINNEY MØLLER. This ship, built in South Korea, is too large for our ports, but it was used here to discuss the present state of the container industry. The three largest container carriers, Mærsk, MSC and CMA CGM, are merging into the so called P3 Network, with plans to start joint operations in 2014. The world’s container ships are operating below capacity as demand has not grown as fast as the expansion of the container fleet.
Since 2008, the price of building some categories of new ships has fallen by 50%. A few companies were able to re-negotiate their prices but most were not and many that built new ships at the top of the market have lost serious amounts of money.
Many projects that the Chamber of Shipping is involved with include road and rail infrastructure. One project of note is the development of a new YVR fuel supply facility on the Fraser River just east of No. 6 Road in Richmond. The current pipeline running between storage tanks in Burnaby and YVR is 50 years old and will eventually need replacement. At present this source of fuel is supplemented by 100 trucks per month from Washington State. The project is anticipated to cost up to $100 million.
Other projects include the Kinder Morgan TransMountain capacity expansion which will raise oil capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000. If approved, it is expected to be operational by 2018 including three new berths at the Burnaby Terminal.
The Roberts Bank container terminal expansion to three berths at Terminal 2 is anticipated to cost $2 billion and will involve a high level of automation with a first phase completion date of 2021/2 and final completion in 2024.
The North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) is another subject that the Chamber has been very involved with. This requires ships to switch to low sulphur fuel (maximum sulphur content 1%) within 200 miles of the North American coastline. Stephen explained this became mandatory in May 2013 and the maximum allowable sulphur content of fuel will be further reduced to 0.1% effective January 1 2015.
Low sulphur fuel is only available as a blend in this part of Canada and is supplied from Washington State. The differential additional price of low sulphur fuel purchased in Vancouver is approximately $260 per ton which has already increased the fuel costs of the Alaska cruise industry by 40%. No more cheap cruises!
The next topic of presentation concerned tankers in B.C. At present the largest tankers calling Vancouver are Aframax sized with capacity of around 120,000 tons due to draft restrictions at the Second Narrows Bridge. These vessels are therefore loaded only to around 80-85% of capacity. If the Northern Gateway project is approved, the largest tankers calling Kitimat will include so called Very Large Crude Carriers of up to around 320,000 tons capacity.
Regarding tanker safety in B.C. Stephen pointed out that Bill C-57 “Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act” was re-introduced in October 2012 as Bill C-3 and received first reading on October 18, 2013. The objective of the Act is to be the basis of a World Class Tanker Safety System for Canada.
We would like to thank Stephen for preparing and presenting this informative talk on maritime shipping in B.C. and for answering the many and varied questions from our membership during the evening’s presentation. We were left with the much clearer understanding of the scale and scope of the Chamber of Shipping and received a very useful insight into the ambitious maritime, road, and rail projects that lie ahead for the province of British Columbia.
► DECEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday December 11, 2013. Our December meeting consisted of an evening filled with WSS business, members’ notes, a seasonal social, and members’ slide presentations. We were pleased to see that the construction around the museum building seems to have ended, for now, and access to the building is open once again on either side of the main entrance. Thanks go to Joan Thornley for providing refreshments and to Rick and Helena for providing coffee, as well as to others who brought treats. We were most pleased to be joined by Len McCann at this meeting.
The AGM consisted of discussion on how we might reduce our shortfall of $603.05. Postage is due to go up in 2014 presenting us with increased costs for mailing the Ship’s Log. It was decided that members of the executive will make enquiries to see if there is a suitable meeting room that costs less than the current one. If any members have suggestions in this regard, please pass them on to the executive. Mike Brown offered to liaise with the ILWU to see if there is any interest among their members in the WSS. It was noted with pleasure that the Western Mariner lists us as a club each month in the magazine.
Bill Etchell began the members’ notes with the news that the NORTH STAR OF HERSCHEL ISLAND is moored at the Museum’s Heritage Harbour. This vessel, Canada’s Arctic tall ship, was built in 1935, and sailed the Beaufort Sea. The ship was Inuit-owned and was used for transporting fur to market. She was also commissioned by the Canadian government to assert Canada’s Arctic sovereignty over the North West Passage. Bruce Macdonald has written a book about her that is on sale in the Museum store (475pp, $36.95 –plus 10% off for VMM members.)
There is a good likelihood that there will be passenger ferry sailings, starting in the spring, between Vancouver and Nanaimo. The service will be provided by the ISLAND TENACITY and the ISLAND FRIENDSHIP and will consist of up to six daily round trip sailings during peak season costing seniors less than $20. The journey will take only 68 minutes at about 37.5 knots. The ships were constructed by Damen Shipyard Group in Holland. Thanks Bill for this news.
Syd Heal noted that there is a project to raise $1 million for the 100th anniversary of the SS MASTER in 2021. Robert Allan is a powerful new ally for the vessel. James Conwell added an update on the ship and noted that Allan had spoken at the Marine Operators Convention and received some good feedback.
Mike Brown showed us two copies of a drawing of the dock at Squamish before the container dock was built. He is selling them for $5 (un-Photo-Shopped) and $10 (Photo-Shopped). The drawing is very attractive and would look good in a frame. Those interested should contact Mike.
Robert Etchell began our members’ presentation with his excellent photos from MacCauley Point, Esquimalt. We saw the NORWEGIAN PEARL, GOLDEN PRINCESS and GRAND PRINCESS. Then we saw some of the vessels from the Classic Boat Festival in Victoria including MESSENGER III, POE RAVA and the Hippo bus tourist boat. Thanks Robert for putting together the presentation.
James Conwell gave us an interesting glimpse of the very beautiful port of Valparaiso in Chile. He brought with him a map of the extensive port and then showed us photos, many taken from the mainland in an historic residential district, of container ships, naval vessels, tugs, oilers, and hospital ships. Vessels included BBC LOUISIANA, HANJIN CHICAGO, OCEAN ALLIANCE, MONTE SARMIENTO, MOL PRECISION, COSTA ROMANTICA, among many others.
Many thanks are extended to our executive and membership for making this a memorable evening. Our December meeting is always refreshingly varied and convivial. We wish everyone a very Happy New Year and we will look forward to seeing you all in January..ǂ
► NOVEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday November 13, 2013. It is with regret that there isn’t the usual November meeting report due to the meeting being cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control. Fifteen members braved the November weather outside locked doors of the Museum while the Executive tried to hatch a plan to get inside the building. The Executive voted unanimously to cancel the meeting as no viable alternative presented itself. Thanks go to our president, Ray Warren, for steering us in the right direction and to Glenn Smith for remaining in the parking lot until 8 pm to inform any late arrivals. The Museum relays its regrets.
We look forward to seeing you all again under more auspicious circumstances on December 11 when we will have our Annual General Meeting and annual members’ night with light refreshments. Until then, keep warm.
► OCTOBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday October 9, 2013. I wish to begin the October meeting report with a second reminder to members that when they come to the museum for the public program, they should approach the museum by the north entrance as there are renovations being conducted on the building. Please be most careful when walking near the scaffolding and metal fencing.
This month’s meeting began with shipping notes by Bill Etchell. He announced that there were public tours of the Greenpeace ship RAINBOW WARRIOR scheduled for October 11th and 12th at the Burrard Dry Dock near the Lonsdale Quay. He also reminded members to schedule ahead for the 2014 annual wooden boat festivals including the Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival on Granville Island (usually held in August) and the Victoria Harbour Boat Show scheduled for May 1-4 in 2014. Bill also reminded members that they might be interested in the forthcoming train trade shows including the 31st Annual Model Train Show scheduled for November 9th and 10th at the Cameron Community Centre in Burnaby and another one at the same location organized by the West Coast Railway Association on March 16th.
Ray Warren announced the sad news that a good friend of the society, Al Mitchell, died of a heart attack last week. He was only 59 years old. Al was Ron Mitchell’s son and both were members of the society in the 1990s. All present expressed their sorrow at the news.
The evening’s presentation began with a figure well-known to branch members. Anthony Dalton returned as our special speaker, this time to address us on his experiences lecturing on board cruise ships. Anthony began his talk by telling us about his childhood wishes to go to sea and then about his experiences, later in life, of applying to be a lecturer aboard cruise ships. His books will be familiar to our members. This evening’s presentation focused on his work with the Smithsonian Institution aboard the Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises.
Anthony brought with him pictures of life on board the EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND of which he had fond memories crossing the Atlantic when he was seventeen, and compared this vessel with the various modern ships he now works on as a special interest speaker. He brought photos of life aboard the ships and showed us the large theatres that he lectures in. We saw photos of CELEBRITY SOLSTICE, CELEBRITY SUMMIT, SUN PRINCESS, GOLDEN PRINCESS, and PACIFIC PRINCESS.
Anthony entertained us with anecdotes of life on board the ships as a lecturer and told us stories of some of the more interesting passengers. One recent trip, in particular, was a focus for his presentation and involved a journey up the Amazon River and the west coast of South America. Of particular note was his visit to Manaus, Brazil which is 1,450 km up the Amazon River. Anthony showed us very striking photos of the confluence of the Río Negro and Río Solimöes as well as the opera house at Manaus and other Victorian era buildings built by the rubber barons. He also noted that he rounded Cape Horn three times.
We gained a great deal from Anthony’s descriptions and came away with some insight into the envious life of a ship lecturer. There were many questions following Anthony’s talk and those present were most satisfied with the evening’s presentation. Thanks again to Anthony for taking the time to prepare a talk for us. We will look forward to hearing about his forthcoming adventures aboard the cruise ships.ǂ
► SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday September 11, 2013. The September meeting of the Vancouver Branch was well attended despite parking difficulties and a relocation of the evening entrance due to renovations at the Museum. For those hoping to attend the October meeting, please persevere and enter the building on the North side. Parking should be better at this time. However, please be very careful when walking near the metal fencing and scaffolding that embraces the exterior of the building.
Ray Warren opened the meeting with members’ updates. James Conwell told us about his experience on board the SS MASTER at Granville Island this summer. While the ship is getting great exposure for public viewing at this location, it was a little disappointing in terms of donations. The Wooden Boat Show proved a little more lucrative in this regard. Jim explained that the Chief Engineer is now 83 years old and, in general, the crew needs some younger volunteers. The SS MASTER has $20,000 in a provincial grant, which is great, but this money will only service the vessel through one season.
Bill Etchell reminded us that the 7th Annual Boat Show will be held September 19-22 at the Mosquito Creek Marina in North Vancouver, west of the Seabus terminal. Robert Etchell informed us that he has won third prize for a photograph of industry on the Fraser River as part of Riverfest and will be awarded the prize on September 28 between 11 and 6 pm at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, Quayside Drive, New Westminster. Congratulations Robert!
Robert Allan, P.Eng, RRINA, FSNAME, was our speaker for the evening addressing us on the history of Robert Allan Ltd., Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, through three generations of his family to the present Robert Allan (still a board member) who has recently sold the business to a team of senior employees. The company was founded in 1930 and became an example of a BC maritime success story.
The first Robert Allan was born in 1884 in Scotland where he completed an apprenticeship as a draftsman and then a B.Sc. in naval architecture at the University of Glasgow in 1907. Following World War I, this Robert Allan went to work in the Wallace Shipyards in North Vancouver where he worked on the CPSS PRINCESS LOUISE. After a brief partnership with George W. Stackhouse (1927-29) and some difficult years, Allan got his break in 1934 with the commission of the m.y. MEANDER for George Kidd. This ship, now moored off Granville Island, is still in excellent original condition. Further commissions included the m.y. FIFER for William Crawford although this ship, like many others, was pressed into naval service during WWII. In the 1940s, Allan designed and oversaw work on NORTH VANCOUVERFERRY #5 and the DELTA PRINCESS, among many other small craft, especially fishing boats.
Robert F. Allan took over the company next. Born in East Boldon (near Sunderland) in England, Robert worked in shipyards in Canada during the war years. Projects he worked on included HMCS PRINCE ROBERT, many coastal tugs and barges, and a fleet of tugs built for CATES starting from the mid '60's. Vessels built during his ownership of the company reflected the growth in the coastal pulp and paper and chemical industries and included barges, bulk cement clinkers, gravel and limestone barges and steel tugs. The shipbuilding subsidies from the government from 1961 to 1985 assisted greatly and in this time span some 560 tugs and 650 barges were built in Canada, many of them using Allan designs.
The third generation of Robert Allan Ltd consisted of our evening speaker who studied naval architecture at the University of Glasgow gaining his Batchelor of Science degree at the same university as his Grandfather. Robert gained work experience with projects for the Mackenzie River and the Beaufort Sea including a breakthrough project for major ice breakers for Gulf Canada Resources Inc. He took over the company in 1983 following his father's death. In the 1990s he began branding the company designs with the initials RA as lead letters in “product” names (e.g. RAmparts, TundRA, Rastar and BRAtt). Tugs became the company’s bread and butter and Robert Allan Ltd is now responsible for some 30-40% of the world market in this field including work at the Sanmar shipyards in Turkey. Recently four Seaspan tug boats were built at Sanmar using Robert Allan designs (Seaspan RAVEN, EAGLE, OSPREY and KESTREL). The 2Z-Tech class is another innovative design that was created for the Port of Singapore and has since found worldwide acceptance, and the company also leads the world market in the design of fireboats. A recent unique new design includes the ART 80-35, a new class of escort-rated Rotor Tug ™, z-drive tugs with three propellors.
The evening was completed with a vigorous question and answer period. Ray Parkinson gave some of his reminiscences of all three generations of Allans. James Conwell enquired about design protection, Adele Runikis enquired about the difference between the efficiency of pusher and puller designs, and Syd Heal enquired about the future of the log barge.
Those present were most pleased with the evening presentation and we would like to thank Robert Allan for his time in putting the presentation together and presenting it to us with such dedication and enthusiasm. We wish him a very happy and fulfilling retirement, and no doubt some innovative projects still ahead.
► MAY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday May 8, 2013. Ray Warren began the last public meeting of the season before summer recess at 7:45 pm with contributions by those present. James Conwell was the first to speak with an update on the SS MASTER. The historic towboat is to move from Steveston to the Granville Island ferry dock for the summer where she will be available for viewing. She is in need of more volunteer engineers.
Bill Etchell brought our attention to the news that larger cruise ships such as the CELEBRITY SOLSTICE are planning to dock in Vancouver during the years ahead. The CELEBRITY SOLSTICE, which at present is too tall to pass under the Lions Gate Bridge, has plans to rebuild her mast so that it telescopically retracts. She is a 19-deck vessel with room for 2850 passengers. Until such time as the mast is reworked she will be docking at Nanaimo. There have been reports in the media about other large ships planning to come into Vancouver and about the increase in cruise ship traffic in our harbour.
Bill and Robert Etchell reminded us to look on the BC Ferries website (www.bcferries.com) to learn more about plans for new ships including replacements for the QUEEN OF NANAIMO on Route 9 and the QUEEN OF BURNABY on Route 19. On the ferry website locate “new ships” and then “Vessel Replacement Story Board” for a fourteen page report.
► APRIL MEETING REPORT — Wednesday April 10, 2013. This month’s public program commenced with members’ notes including Malcolm Millar’s follow-up to our movie on the THOMAS CROSBY V. Malcolm researched the fate of the vessel and discovered that following her use by the United Church as a mission ship she was rebuilt by Delta Charters and completed at the Shelter Island dry-dock. Subsequently, a captain presented himself at the dry-dock and took off with the ship. The vessel was eventually located off Los Angeles where a doctor had purchased her. She is now in the Catalina Islands under American registration.
Len McCann then gave the background to the scrimshaw controversy that has recently arisen at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. There was a general discussion about scrimshaw to which Ray Parkinson added his personal notes. Nanci Dunbrook was briefly in attendance and reminded members that the Maritime Museum is open by donation on Thursday evenings from 5 to 9 pm.
Joan Thornley updated us on the forthcoming program and informed collectors that the North Vancouver Museum will have its second annual Treasures from the Attic event on April 27 between 11 am and 3 pm. This event, held at Presentation House, is similar to the Antiques Roadshow television program. Collectors are encouraged to check the website for more details and to register to have their valuables verbally appraised.
Tonight we welcomed three new guests to our meeting who came especially to hear our evening speaker. These guests, members of the Historical Map Society of British Columbia and the Vancouver Historical Society, included: Elwin Xie, Bruce Watson, and Cam Cathcart. We were also most pleased to welcome back Daniel von Richthofen, formerly of Transport Canada, from Kemptville, Ontario.
This month’s evening presentation was by Dr. Andrew S. Cook of the Dalrymple Research Institute of Fife, Scotland. Dr. Cook has worked as an Advisor to the UK Hydrographic Office and the Admiralty Library on the history of charts and sailing directions. In addition, Dr. Cook is an esteemed friend of the BC Branch of the WSS. Following an introduction by Joan Thornley, Dr. Cook spoke to us on “Extraordinary Energy and Almost Severe Zeal: Richards, Pender and the Charting of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.”
Dr. Cook addressed us on the various surveys that were conducted on British Columbia’s coast from 1790, as British officers gained intelligence on topography and sent it to the Admiralty Office, until 1910 when Canada took over her own intelligence work. In particular he spoke about the connections between hydrographic surveys and the development of civil administration in the early colony. Dr. Cook showed us charts of Captain Vancouver’s surveys (1791-1794), the Hudson’s Bay Company river surveys (1825-1830), Captain Henry Kellett’s Vancouver Island surveys (1846-1849), the coal surveys (1851-1856), the gold surveys of the Queen Charlotte Islands (1852-1856), and Captain G.H. Richards’ surveys on the boundary of the 49th parallel (1857-1861, 1861-1863).
The charts we observed began as simple renditions of the use of topography and a search for a place for naval and civil administration. These early maps displayed almost no foresight for what they might be used in the future. Captain Richards gave considerable attention to Esquimalt, which he favoured over Victoria as an administrative center. He was unusual amongst colonial hydrographic surveyors in that he was able to live in the colony (Victoria) with his family in the 1850s. His crew included Daniel Pender and James Charles Prevost, two names well known on the west coast. Most of his cartography focused on the region that was under negotiation between Britain and the United States including Haro Strait and Boundary Pass. He did not do much charting north of Point Roberts. The Fraser River charts were taken from earlier rudimentary charts.
Dr. Cook then took the time to elaborate on the various records available to him including Richards’ journals, letters, and papers, and went into some detail on the technical aspects of Richards’ work. Early letters (1857-1863) report back on the difficulties of the surveys on board the HMS PLUMPER. At this time it was possible to get a chart completed and returned from London in just six months. Richards wrote sailing directions and edited them as he went along. His surveys of Vancouver Island involved the use of a steamship, as it was not possible to maintain a steady position in a sailing vessel. Access to coal for fuel therefore became important to his work and was rewarded when coal was discovered at Nanaimo. Richards developed a way around the London engraving of his charts by employing the work of Royal Engineers at New Westminster.
The evening was concluded with refreshments and a round of questions. Many of the members’ questions focused on the settlement of the boundary between Canada and the United States.
We would like to thank our speaker Dr. Andrew Cook for providing us with an erudite and informative presentation on the charting of our coastline. We hope we may look forward to speaking with Dr. Cook again on his next visit to Vancouver. ǂ
► MARCH MEETING REPORT — Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Our March meeting began with an update on the SS MASTER by James Conwell. As Jim explained at the last meeting, the MASTER was built with considerable technical skill and so now that the restoration is in progress, the crew of volunteers is finding it an interesting challenge to match these skills with today’s know-how and materials. Last month Jim brought a piece of the deck wood for inspection to the membership, and at this meeting Jim brought a piece of the caulking material known as “black glue” for us to handle. It takes a very skilled person to do this job and those working on this aspect of the deck were interested and challenged to do their own caulking. Needless to say, the MASTER is short of skilled volunteers. We always look forward to progress reports on this valuable historic vessel and hope that we may hear further good news from Jim shortly.
Joan Thornley, our Recording Secretary, read the minutes of the March 6 executive meeting that focused primarily on the upcoming program. At the last public meeting, Colin Preston informed us that he is retiring from the CBC shortly, and so it has been agreed that we should approach him as soon as possible to show us some more maritime footage. Syd Heal has offered to speak to us on his forthcoming book AURORA EXPLORER – thanks Syd – and James Conwell has two videos we can use – one on the FLYING ENTERPRISE and the other on the 1996 voyage of the JEREMIAH O’BRIEN to Vancouver’s Ceres' Pier. Mike Brown added that he has photographs of the container ship revolution in Vancouver as well as photos by a friend who was chief officer on one of the Blue Star ships. He would be willing to show us these photos at a forthcoming meeting. Joan concluded that we are seeking ideas and feedback for our 60th anniversary celebration in 2014.
Before our evening program commenced there was a round of applause for our two guests from New York region, Mary and Paul Klee. Welcome both!
Tom McLean, master mariner, marine surveyor, and WSS member was our evening speaker addressing us on “The Search for Oil – Ships, Supply Vessels and Tugs of the Beaufort Sea and Western Arctic 1977-1985”. Tom spent many years working in the Canadian Arctic and showed photographs of the ships in the North that were of great interest to those in attendance. Tom displayed a variety of tugs, supply ships, seismic survey ships, icebreakers, crew ships and drilling ships that were part of the Canmar, Beaudril, Arctic Offshore, and ATL lines. We learned about the conditions in the North where the shipping season lasts from break up at the end of June to the beginning of the deep freeze in October, a short season. We learned about the wintering of the ships under these conditions where the pipes of the ships are emptied of fluids on the approach to winter and then refilled with anti-freeze as the ships are left to freeze over while the crew heads south.
The ships Tom spoke about included the research ship PANDORA II and the first generation of Canmar vessels including the seven Canmar supply ships numbered I to VII. Next he showed the Arctic Transportation Ltd. (ATL) ships including the ARCTIC TAGLU, ARCTIC HOOPER, ARCTIC PELLY, ARCTIC IGNIK, ARCTIC NUTSUKPOK, ARCTIC IVIK, ARCTIC NANABUSH, ARCTIC IMEUK KAMOTIK, and ARCTIC UBLUREAK. Then our attention turned to ice breaking and supply vessels of Canadian Marine Drilling (Canmar) at the Dome Petroleum base at McKinley Bay. Ice class supply ships included ROBERT LEMEUR, CANMAR SUPPLIERS I to VII and CANMAR KIGARIAK (an ice breaker). Tugs in this line included CANMAR SEA EAGLE, and ARCTIC SUN, and drill vessels included the four CANMAR EXPLORER vessels numbered I to IV, and SSDC (single-hull steel drilling caisson), a former tanker converted into a drilling ship. Many of the vessels seen tonight are still in use (some in the Russian Arctic) and those bearing Inuit names were so named by school children in the north.
Tom also showed the Beaudril fleet – MODU (Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit), KULLUK, ice breaking supply vessels: KALVIK, IKALUK, MUNAKEE and TERRY FOX, and the Arctic Offshore vessels: FORT GOOD HOPE, GORDEN GILL, TOGA and DUGA and tanker GULF BEAUFORT.
In addition to an interesting glimpse of ships, this evening’s members were also treated to views of the north including Dutch Harbour, Point Barrow, Amundsen Gulf, the Beaufort Sea, Tuktoyaktuk, Hay River, McKinley Bay, Herschel Island and Herschel Basin. Tom came well prepared with background information and technical notes on the ships and the branch is most grateful to him for another excellent presentation. ǂ
► FEBRUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday, February 13, 2013. Our February meeting was presided over by Ray Warren (welcome back Ray!) and began with several interesting members’ notes. Robert Etchell informed us that the MS AMADEA will be docked at Canada Place from February 25th (9 am) until the 27th. James Conwell was then pleased to inform us that the SS MASTER has had further restoration work done on her. This time the front deck has been replaced and Jim circulated an actual piece of the deck, a thick plank of Douglas fir, among the members. The work cost $7,000 and consisted of just one quarter of the front deck, but it is heartening to hear that progress is being made with the loving restoration of the ship. The MASTER is now in Steveston where she will remain until May and then she will move to Granville Island for the summer. Good work Jim and colleagues!
Our President next asked for a round of applause to thank Joan Thornley and Glenn Smith for their many dedicated hours of work for the Society. Joan has done a wonderful job as program coordinator for us and Glenn has put in many hours of hard work to produce the Ship’s Log alongside our very capable editor, Cecil Woods. This month’s issue of the Ship’s Log marked the 200th issue and so Glenn and Cecil have reached a milestone for the publication. Thanks to all for their time and effort!
Before our evening program commenced, guests were welcomed to the meeting. Shirley Sutherland, Gayle Seaman, Malcolm Millar and Bob Hunter were greeted with a warm round of applause. We look forward to having more guests at future meetings.
This evening, Colin Preston, CBC archivist, returned to the WSS bringing with him two excellent films of interest to our members. Both films, one dating from 1958 in black and white, and one dating from 1986 in colour, were CBC and United Church collaborations. The subject of the films was the mission ships that operated on the northwest coast of Canada for one hundred years. The ships, THOMAS CROSBY I through V, were named after Reverend Thomas Crosby ((1840-1914), an English Methodist missionary known for his work amongst the First Nations’ Peoples from Port Simpson northward. Crosby went to the missions in the home of the Tsimshian people of Lax Kw’alaams and traveled extensively in the region using a canoe. In 1884, the Methodist church purchased a vessel named GLAD TIDINGS and operated it as a mission ship until it sunk in 1905. Thereafter, the replacement ships were named THOMAS CROSBY and they operated from 1912 until 1986 when they were replaced by air transport.
The THOMAS CROSBY ships made Prince Rupert their home port and operated northward to Trutch Island, McInnis Island, Ivory Island, Malcolm Island and Bella Bella, all shown in the films. They called in at lighthouses, canneries, logging camps as well as mission towns and performed marriages, christenings and funerals in addition to delivering some mail, books, films and hospital supplies.
The second film, The Voyage of the Thomas Crosby V, focused on the last trips of minister and master mariner, Oliver R. Howard (1927-2008). Howard served on the Central Mainland Marine Mission from 1977 and wrote the book Godships in 1984 documenting the 100 years of missions on the water. The CROSBY V was a steel vessel built in 1967, sold in 1990 and possibly in operation until 2000 (sources vary on this). Other ships seen in the films included, CHAMISS BAY, ROBERT C. SCOTT, and MELVYN SWARTOUT. Thanks to Colin Preston for another interesting evening. ǂ
► JANUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday January 9, 2013. Our President, Ray Warren, was unable to attend tonight’s meeting due to ill health (get well Ray!) and so our meeting was presided over by Vice-President, Neil England. Our attendance was lower this month undoubtedly due to the cold and flu season which has struck the city. As there were no points of information from members, Joan Thornley, our Recording Secretary, read the minutes of the November executive meeting. The January meeting of the executive had to be cancelled due to the ill health of two board members. There are no urgent matters facing the executive at this time. The next executive meeting will be held at the beginning of March.
Neil introduced our evening speaker, W.B. (Bruce) MacDonald, author of The Good Hope Cannery: Life and Death at a Salmon Cannery, published by Caitlin in 2011. Bruce very kindly included numerous images of ships connected to the cannery at Rivers Inlet, B.C. for our interest, as well as providing us with an interesting and entertaining talk about the company built by Henry Ogle Bell-Irving (1856-1931).
The Good Hope Cannery was built in 1895 at the cost of $30,791.70 (Bell-Irving kept meticulous notes) for the Anglo British Columbia Packing Company and operated until 1940. The vessels associated with ABC all flew company flags and, in the early years, included numerous skiffs which set out during the three month sockeye season. The labour for the company consisted of Chinese and First Nations workers and the managers for the operation were chosen for their skills at importing and managing workers rather than for their knowledge of fish.
Henry Bell-Irving was an engineer, big game hunter, painter and philanthropist and ran a formidable business empire on the West Coast. His business innovation consisted of cutting out the American middleman in his operations. In the early days all the canning was done at Rivers Inlet, whereas later, refrigeration ships allowed the fish to be transported to the cannery in Steveston. Bell-Irving sent the first canned salmon to the U.K. in the TITANIA.
During Bruce MacDonald’s presentation we saw some excellent old photographs of early ships including the steamer, BARBARA BOSCOWITZ, the Dutch vessel H.H. CUTCH (a schooner rigged propeller vessel of 324 tons gross built in Hull in 1884), the British naval ship ROYAL ARTHUR (the flagship of the pacific fleet from the 4th cruiser squadron), HMS NEWCASTLE, HOLLYLEAF and CARDENA. In 1940 the business at Rivers Inlet ended and the property was turned into a fish camp. For this reason, some of the buildings at Good Hope survive today.
Bruce MacDonald’s talk was highly interesting to our members and sparked many questions and much discussion about the early fishing industry in BC. Syd Heal was able to add many notes about the early days from his great knowledge of the industry and Rod Logan and Mike Brown added interesting stories from their days as longshoremen. The discussion carried on into the evening. Many thanks go to Bruce for his talk and for acting as a catalyst to an excellent discussion! ǂ
DECEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday December 12, 2012. Our annual December meeting began with the AGM. This year there was very little new to report. Our executive remains unchanged. It was noted that we have retained our members and that we are in good financial shape.
Our December members’ meeting consisted of three speakers. The first was Robert Etchell addressing us on his recent trip to Penticton, B.C.. Robert’s photographs illustrated three ship museums located in Penticton on Lake Okanagan. The SS SICAMOUS is a large five decked lake steam sternwheeler that operated on the lake between 1914 and 1935. Robert showed us some excellent shots of the fully-restored interior of the SICAMOUS including some excellent wood finishing and furnishings. We then saw the SS NARAMATA, a steel-hulled CPR tugboat that linked the communities around Lake Okanagan from 1914 to 1967. These photographs were followed by shots of CANADIAN NATIONAL No. 6, a vintage tug built in 1947 that serviced the Lake between 1948 and 1972. She is now moored at the Heritage docks in Penticton. Robert also told us about the new public pier development that is to take place on Okanagan Lake.
Our second speaker was Neil England addressing us on the docks accompanying the refineries in Ferndale and Anacortes, Washington, and the docks in Bellingham, Washington. Neil began by showing us the three Ferndale docks alongside the BP Cherry Point Refinery, the Alcoa Intalco Aluminum Smelter and the Conoco-Philips Ferndale Refinery. Here we saw excellent photographs of POLAR DISCOVERY and OVERSEAS LOS ANGELES, two US flagged tankers that we sometimes see in Vancouver, and RESPONSE, a Crowley tug built in 2002 en route to Cherry Point from Anacortes. At Bellingham Pier, the general cargo/bulk dock, we saw the container ships HORIZON FAIRBANKS, and HORIZON CONSUMER. At the Fairhaven docks we saw the Alaska ferry COLUMBIA, and MALASPINA. We also saw the Alaska ferry KENNICOTT and the U.S. Coast Guard vessel ANTHONY PETIT.
At Anacortes near the Tesoro refinery Neil showed us the US flagged crude oil tanker POLAR ENTERPRISE from three angles.
Further photographs of tankers included TOSCA, OVERSEAS NIKISKI, AMBA BHAVANEE, STAVANGER BLOSSOM, and MAERSK CAMERON. Other shots around Anacortes included the Washington State ferry KITTITAS in dry dock, NENA F at Pier 2 loading sulphur and petroleum coke, BBC LEER, GRANT CANDIES, ROSS CANDIES (at her naming ceremony) and two tall ships below Cap Sante, HAWAIIAN CHIEFTAIN and LADY WASHINGTON. Thanks to Neil for such a comprehensive view of ships in Washington State.
Our third presentation was by Don Brown presenting us photographs of the J. Lauritzen Lines from views taken between 1968 and 2012 taken in the Port of Vancouver and on the Fraser River. The Lauritzen Line (1884-1984) specializes in dry bulk cargo with its headquarters in Copenhagen and offices in Singapore and Stamford, Connecticut. The firm was prominent in polar navigation and exploration and discovered that red hulls and funnels could be seen from great distances in arctic conditions. The vessels, both owned and chartered, include Handysize and Handymax bulk carriers as well as Panamax and Capesize carriers. Don began by introducing us to the RUTHA DAN and ANITA DAN, then to a series of reefer/freezer ships including CHILEAN REEFER, ITALIAN REEFER, NIPPON REEFER, SEVILLAN REEFER, and ECUADORIAN REEFER. He then showed us a series of bulkers including CRYSTAL BULKER, SEA BULKER, NORDIC BULKER, VIKING BULKER, SKY BULKER, BAY BULKER, and DURBAN BULKER.
We then saw some Panamax bulkers with their seven hatches (holds). Don explained that the Panamax ship is the maximum size that can go through the Panama Canal. In this class he showed us photos of PERLA BULKER and PALMA BULKER. Don also showed slides of Capesize ships with their nine holds as well as both crude oil and chemical tankers. Thanks go to Don for putting together a unique collection of photographs of Lauritzen ships and for familiarizing us with their operations here on the West Coast.
The members’ meeting concluded another successful year for the Vancouver Branch of the Ship Society. Thanks go to all those who made 2012 such an interesting year and here’s wishing everyone a very happy year ahead.ǂ
► NOVEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday November 2012. For November’s public program of the Vancouver Branch, we were delighted to host marine artist Gordon Miller speaking on his recent book entitled, Voyages: To the New World and Beyond (Douglas and McIntyre, 2011). This weighty volume, illustrated by Gordon, was fifteen years in the making and tonight’s PowerPoint presentation showed us the artistic process involved in creating Gordon’s watercolour paintings for the tome.
Gordon explained to us in detail how he researched each painting by looking, whenever possible, at original records, models and plans, replicas, and other artists’ renditions of ships. He then showed us his own models and perspectives completed in the preliminary stages of the work including models of coastlines such as Hastings Mill, City Wharf and Gastown in the nineteenth century.
Gordon took us through one hundred and twenty pictures of his work starting with the first painting in the book of Leif Ericsson’s vessels. As Ericsson’s Knarr did not survive, Gordon used a Gokstad ship (excavated in 1880) as just one point of reference for his painting. During the Norse era very little information about ships survived. The sails of the Gokstad were made of wool, reinforced with leather, as this was the only fabric available to the Norse. Gordon then progressed to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when the information for the researcher was a little better as shown by a votive model of a 1540 galleon from Mataro, Spain. We saw Gordon’s painting of Columbus’s NINA, PINTA and SANTA MARIA departing Spain in 1492 followed by John Cabot’s MATTHEW in 1497 (replica by Colin Mudie). These ships were followed by Martin Frobisher’s GABRIEL in 1576 and AYDE in 1578; Zachariah Gillam’s NONSUCH depicted three years after the Fire of London (1666); Northern Pomor’s KOTCH in 1647, a Russian seal hunter vessel; the BATAVIA in 1629 on her maiden voyage; Francis Drake’s GOLDEN HINDE in 1579 from a plan by Ray Aker; Vitus Jonassen Bering’s SAINT PETER in 1741, with the help of some prints from a Russian
Bill Etchell distributed an article about the history of cruising to Alaska and a mouth-watering sample menu from his September 30 cruise with June on the WESTERDAM. He then described the very rough waters at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon where there is a particularly treacherous bar. Cape Disappointment is so-named because of the difficulty ships face in navigation at this point and to this day special pilots have to board ships to navigate them across the bar. Bill then spoke about the two Japanese submarines that traversed to the west coast of Vancouver Island during World War II. One of the submarines shelled the Point Estevan Lighthouse in June 1942. Bill said that a man in Portland has written a book in which he interviews one of the captains of the submarines.
Members then voted to view the 2007 DVD in the Great Liners Series entitled Matson Line. This DVD included some very interesting archival film of the Matson Line ships operating in the South Pacific, most specifically running from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Hawaii and between the various Hawaiian islands. While a significant portion of the footage focused on passenger ships, particularly the famous LURLINE, there was a segment that showed freighters being loaded. In this latter category of ship, we saw HAWAIIAN CITIZEN, HAWAIIAN BANKER, HAWAIIAN PLANTER, AND HAWAIIAN EDUCATOR, just a few of the eighteen express cargo ships running between the mainland and the islands. The passenger ships included the last two first class liners built for the company, launched in 1956, MARIPOSA and MONTEREY. It’s interesting to note that they were constructed on standard MARINER freighter hulls and originally named PINE TREE MARINER and FREE STATE MARINER respectively.
The film then went into some detail about the decline of the Matson Line in the South Pacific due to competition from other shipping companies and the advent of air transport.ǂ
► OCTOBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday October 10, 2012 — Video evening - viewers' choice On September 12, 2012, the BC Branch of the WSS gathered once again in the Karlshoej Gallery of the Maritime Museum, presided over by Vice-President Neil England. Neil welcomed members to the meeting and read the minutes of the recent Executive meeting provided by Joan Thornley. Then, during members’ contribution time, James Conwell gave an update on the restoration of SS MASTER that is presently docked at Granville Island before wintering in Steveston. Over $1 million worth of work has been done on the MASTER over the past year including replacement of a section of steam pipe and new deck work, however, she needs a further $500,000 worth of work to replace the dry rot on her if she is to survive more than three years. All contributions are welcome and thanks go to the volunteers who have dedicated many hours to her.
Bill Etchell reminded members that Dr. Barry Gough will be launching his book Juan de Fuca’s Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams (Harbour Publishers, 2012) on September 29 at the Maritime Museum beginning at 2 pm. It was suggested that we approach Dr. Gough to talk to us on his book at a future meeting.
The evening’s speaker was prolific author, publisher, and WSS Past President Syd Heal speaking on his book The Romance of Historic Names (Cordillera Books, 2006). Syd focused on the naval names associated with geographical features in English Bay, Jervis Inlet and Howe Sound, especially those derived from battles involving Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) and those named by Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798). Syd began with a description of early names derived from Spanish naval figures including Valdes, Cortes, Malaspina, Gabriola, and Galiano. Other names were derived from British admirals including Richard Keats, Cuthbert Collingwood, George “Red” Bowyer, Alexander Hood, Roger Curtis, Erasmus Gower, and Edward Thornborough.
The evening’s presentation was amply illustrated with paintings of ships, battles, and portraits of admirals and crew that Syd had meticulously researched. Many of the images came from covers of books on a variety of naval themes. The battle scenes were of particular note with Syd taking great care to explain the battles to us and to relate pertinent information to the place names on the West Coast. Syd also identified figures in the paintings in great detail and gave an explanation of the uniforms and ranks. We were delighted that Syd included photographs from his own collection including an excellent view from Horseshoe Bay taken by Syd and one of his yacht CAPRICORN.
Thanks go to Syd Heal for an informative and entertaining presentation. Gratitude is also expressed for Syd’s stalwart support of the BC Branch executive over many years and for many other excellent talks he has given to the Branch. All present were most satisfied with the evening’s programme and questions and discussion continued into the evening.
► SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday September 12, 2012 — On September 12, 2012, the BC Branch of the WSS gathered once again in the Karlshoej Gallery of the Maritime Museum, presided over by Vice-President Neil England. Neil welcomed members to the meeting and read the minutes of the recent Executive meeting provided by Joan Thornley. Then, during members’ contribution time, James Conwell gave an update on the restoration of SS MASTER that is presently docked at Granville Island before wintering in Steveston. Over $1 million worth of work has been done on the MASTER over the past year including replacement of a section of steam pipe and new deck work, however, she needs a further $500,000 worth of work to replace the dry rot on her if she is to survive more than three years. All contributions are welcome and thanks go to the volunteers who have dedicated many hours to her. [see correction in October Meeting notes]
Bill Etchell reminded members that Dr. Barry Gough will be launching his book Juan de Fuca’s Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams (Harbour Publishers, 2012) on September 29 at the Maritime Museum beginning at 2 pm. It was suggested that we approach Dr. Gough to talk to us on his book at a future meeting.
The evening’s speaker was prolific author, publisher, and WSS Past President Syd Heal speaking on his book The Romance of Historic Names (Cordillera Books, 2006). Syd focused on the naval names associated with geographical features in English Bay, Jervis Inlet and Howe Sound, especially those derived from battles involving Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) and those named by Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798). Syd began with a description of early names derived from Spanish naval figures including Valdes, Cortes, Malaspina, Gabriola, and Galiano. Other names were derived from British admirals including Richard Keats, Cuthbert Collingwood, George “Red” Bowyer, Alexander Hood, Roger Curtis, Erasmus Gower, and Edward Thornborough.
The evening’s presentation was amply illustrated with paintings of ships, battles, and portraits of admirals and crew that Syd had meticulously researched. Many of the images came from covers of books on a variety of naval themes. The battle scenes were of particular note with Syd taking great care to explain the battles to us and to relate pertinent information to the place names on the West Coast. Syd also identified figures in the paintings in great detail and gave an explanation of the uniforms and ranks. We were delighted that Syd included photographs from his own collection including an excellent view from Horseshoe Bay taken by Syd and one of his yacht CAPRICORN.
Thanks go to Syd Heal for an informative and entertaining presentation. Gratitude is also expressed for Syd’s stalwart support of the BC Branch executive over many years and for many other excellent talks he has given to the Branch. All present were most satisfied with the evening’s programme and questions and discussion continued into the evening.ǂ
► MAY MEETING REPORT - Wednesday May 9, 2012 — For our last public program before the summer recess, we were pleased to host Jennifer Magnusson for an evening’s presentation on her two month expedition as Education Officer aboard the JOIDES RESOLUTION, a deep sea exploration vessel operated by the IODP, fitted with a drill capable of taking core samples five miles into the ocean floor.
The JOIDES RESOLUTION was built in 1978 and soon converted to a scientific drill ship suitable for rock and sediment. Her crew has taken drill core samples from all over the world. The research is strictly scientific and the cores are sent to depositories in Germany, Texas, and Asia. The crew of the ship is similarly international and each expedition must be approved by a scientific body for the relevance of the research to the history and future of the planet.
Jennifer Magnusson’s trip took place over 67 days from early September to December, 2011. It was a unique opportunity for her to combine her work as a science teacher and oceanographer with the ground breaking research aboard the vessel. The researchers she worked with were from North America, Asia, and Europe, and came from many disciplinary backgrounds. This research voyage was the first specifically assigned to examine the microbiology of deep-sea hard rock. The sampling techniques developed could be used to look for life on other planets.
The questions the researchers on board the JOIDES RESOLUTION will help to answer include, what caused the dinosaurs to go extinct? how has the earth’s climate changed? how have volcanic eruptions affected the earth? and how have plate tectonics affected the earth? Each research trip is carefully planned several years ahead and all the safety features are well in place as the explorations are as dangerous as work aboard an oil rigger.
The JOIDES RESOLUTION was last in Victoria, BC in 2010 and is expected to visit again in 2013 for those who wish to view her. She is 143 meters long, 21 meters wide with a gross tonnage of 10,282, a transit speed of 10.5 knots, and a derrick measuring 62 meters above the waterline. (She is able to pass through the Panama Canal) The maximum capacity of her drill is 8,230 meters (5.11 miles) and the suspended hanging drill can reach 9,144 meters (5.68 miles).
The drill pipe is operated by a dynamic positioning system including a camera that can observe the pipe position as it moves up and down. 12 thrusters deploy when it is on its station. The pipe that goes down is referred to as the “tripping pipe” and consists of 150 stands of pipe that fit together for the descent depending on the water depth. On this expedition the research site was a sediment pond on the ocean floor in which relatively young rock was filled with sediment that helped stabilize the surface making it possible to take core samples. The drill pipe goes down a hole in the ship referred to as the Moon Pool.
Jennifer’s talk was punctuated with photographs and short film clips illustrating her points. A highlight of her trip was being allowed to climb the derrick, something she illustrated for us in photographs. All present at the May public program of the WSS, Vancouver Branch were most impressed with the quality of the presentation and extend a note of thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to come and speak to us.
Some newsworthy notes from members attending the May meeting include Bill Etchell's two points on coast guard vessels. On May 26, 2012 the Coast Guard Auxiliary will inaugurate a ship at Horseshoe Bay (near Sewell’s Marina) that will be accompanied by eight search and rescue vessels. The public is invited to look at the vessels. (The Coast Guard Auxiliary is to be a self-funding agency) Next in point, the local coast guard ship, OSPREY, will be renamed SPILSBURY after Jim Spilsbury OC, a coastal mariner originally from Derbyshire who became interested in putting radios into logging camps and manufacturing radio-telephones in the 1920s.
Robert Etchell reminded WSS members that the City of Richmond is building a pumping station and public viewing area that can be seen from No. 4 Road and River Road (between Shell and the River Rock Casino). It is apparently an impressive site. Ray Warren informed us that the OCEAN LADY, the ship that brought the Sri Lankan refugees to the B.C. coast, can be viewed from the south shore of the North Arm of the Fraser River just west of the Canada Line bridge. Jim Conwell then informed us that the MASTER’s summer plans have changed a little due to the high cost of fuel and the long transit from Britannia to Granville Island. The ship will stay at Britannia until August and will be open to the public throughout the summer on Saturdays between 10 am and 4 pm For those interested in Titanic-related information, the MASTER’s steam engine was modelled after the Titanic.
Here’s wishing members of the WSS and their family and friends a safe and fruitful summer. We look forward to seeing you all again on September 12th so please mark the date on your calendar. Happy sailing!! ǂ
► APRIL MEETING REPORT — Wednesday April 11, 2012 — Our April meeting commenced with spring not yet fully arrived, but that did not dampen the spirits of our members who ventured out on a rainy evening to hear Neil England, our guest speaker. Indeed, we were pleased to see the return of some old members and new guests to our public program. The meeting began with newsworthy notes from two of the attendees. Mike Brown brought a relevant 1956 English movie poster, in wonderful condition, to the meeting. The movie had a maritime theme and was entitled The Battle of the River Plate featuring the German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE, on the estuary in Argentina or Uruguay, starring John Gregson, Anthony Quayle and Peter Finch. The movie was titled Pursuit of the Graf Spee in America. The battle was the first naval battle in the Second World War and the only episode in South America.
Rod Logan then gave his newsworthy items, recommending a book published recently on the 100-year history of the Fraser River Pile Driving Company located at 1830 River Drive just below Marine Way near 5th Avenue in New Westminster. He also informed us that the McBARGE is still moored in Burrard Inlet where she has been since 1991. She is eventually to be moved to Mission to become part of a waterfront development named “Sturgeon’s on the Fraser” which will include restaurants and a marine complex. The McBARGE is a reinforced concrete barge. Rod informed us that the DEVELOPMENT WAY, the heavy-lift ship that recently departed Vancouver with two Seaspan log barges and eight Seaspan tugs bound for a Chinese scrap yard was originally built as a crude oil tanker in 1983 called CLEAN RIVER. Thanks to Mike and Rod for their contributions.
Our evening presenter was Neil England, our Vice-President, who showed us digital photos from his sixteen day cruise aboard the GTS CELEBRITY INFINITY sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle through the Panama Canal in April 2011, accompanied by his wife Beth.
Tonight’s talk focused on the Panama Canal portion of the trip with detailed glimpses of the ship’s passage approaching the Canal, passing through the Canal, the building of the new third locks, and photos of other ships in the vicinity of the Canal.
Neil began with a very well researched history of the Panama isthmus from the fifteenth century through to the modern era. Of particular note was the description of the forty-seven mile rail along the route of the present-day canal completed in 1855. This original rail line provided important survey data for the current canal. To this day trains still run cargo and people across the isthmus. The French began the canal in 1871 but their effort ended in failure and bankruptcy. The Americans bought the French company in 1904 and took another ten years to complete the canal. John Wallace, John Stevens, and George Goethals were the chief engineers who oversaw the work. The canal opened on August 15, 1914, a few days after the beginning of World War One. The Canal Zone was controlled by the Americans until 1977 and then turned over to Panama in 1999.
The CELEBRITY INFINITY operators paid $228,000 to go through the canal. Fees like this contribute to the $1 billion per year in tolls that the Canal Authority collects. The lock sizes (320m x 33.5m x 12.6m) determine the width, length and depth of ships that may pass through her. The new locks under construction are considerably larger (427m x 55m x 18.3m).
The cruise ship CELEBRITY INFINITY had a clearance of only about two feet on either side of the ship. She is a large cruise ship, 91,000 gross tonnes, holding 2,100 passengers, carrying 3,000 tons of fuel, and capable of cruising at 24 knots while burning 126 gallons to the mile. The ship has two propellers, two pods, and three bow thrusters, all electrically driven.
Neil documented the many ships he saw while going through the canal. Traffic has increased from 1,000 ships in 1915 to 15,000 ships in 2010. (It takes approximately ten minutes for the locks to raise or lower a ship once the doors are open). Of particular note on this trip were the working tugs and dredging ships, many in the fleet of the Panama Authority. We saw the dredging of MINDI, a cutter suction dredge built in 1941 by Ellicott Dredges (USA), SAMSON, a backhoe dredger operated by a Belgium company, and another backhoe dredger named CORNELIUS (1978), a Mexican ship, operated by KoninKlijke Boskalis Westminster of the Netherlands. Tugs included AMISTAD built at Bollinger Shipyards in 1982, VB CHAGRES (l974), ALIANZA (1981), CULEBRA, an interesting pusher tug and ALEX GORDON, a Canadian tug.
Among the many cargo and container ships were FORTUNE EPOCH (ECL 1995), KUJAWY (2005) operated by Polsteam Shipping, NORWICH (l978), operated by SMT and on her way to be scrapped in China, STOLT SISTO (2010) operated by Gulf Stolt, MSC LAUSANNE (2005) operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company (en route to Vancouver where she stopped five times in 2011), MAERSK MERRITT (1989), operated by Seaspan of Vancouver, renamed MSC VERONIQUE on November 1, 2011, and MAGNUM FORTUNE (2009) a 54,000 ton bulker operated by Meadway Shipping.
The audience was impressed with the amount of research Neil put into his presentation and there were many interesting questions following the talk. No doubt Neil has many more photographs from this trip for further presentations and we greatly appreciate the time he took to make this talk informative and entertaining.
► MARCH MEETING REPORT — Wednesday March 14, 2012 — The March public program of the society opened with the announcement that two of our long-standing members, Jean Miller and John Cannon, have recently passed away. All present were deeply saddened by the news and extend their sincere condolences to Jean and John’s family and friends.
News updates included a notice by Robert Etchell that PACIFIC PRINCESS, the original Love Boat of TV fame, is to be scrapped in Turkey. The ship was built in 1971 and became part of the Princess fleet in 1975. Joan Thornley reminded members that Dean Miller had been the local public relations person for the Princess Cruises.
Bill Etchell notified members that there is to be a talk by Dr. Robert Gallagher on RMS TITANIC at the Vancouver Maritime Museum on April 14 from 2-4 pm. This lecture is free with admission to the museum ($11.00 plus HST adults, $8.50 plus HST youth) and coincides with the anniversary of the sinking of the vessel.
Joan Thornley updated members on the March executive meeting. She discussed the four topics that were the subject of the meeting: 1. membership, 2. Ships’ Log and the Maritime Museum bookstore, 3. speakers’ program, 4. new computer to be purchased.
President Ray Warren began the public lecture with a digital presentation of his voyage to Alaska with his friend and fellow artist John Horton aboard STEVESTON LIFEBOAT, June 14 to July 8, 2011. The talk was entitled Ray’sAlaska Adventure and brought many old members and guests to the audience including Ken Brodie, Barbara Brown, and marine artists Alan Nakano and Gordon Miller.
STEVESTON LIFEBOAT was built in 1944 in Pearl Harbour as a navy launch and came to the US mainland and was converted into a yacht in the 1960s. John Horton lovingly restored her in 1998. For this talk, Ray showed us his photographs of ships, lighthouses, natural scenery, and wildlife. As always, Ray’s touch as an artist was evident in the images and the pictures conveyed a sense of the pleasurable summer voyage aboard the vessel.
Ray’s photographs were organized in geographical sequence to show the navigational route of the ship. Her route included False Bay – Lasquiti Island, Campbell River, Chatham Point, Port Neville – Johnstone Strait, Alert Bay, Pine Island, Egg Island, Bella Bella, Higgins Passage, Helmcken Inlet-Aristazabel Island, Prince Rupert, Hassler Harbour-Alaska, Ketchikan and as far north as Tracy Arm. The pictures included a significant number of lighthouses including Sisters, Cape Mudge, Pine and Ivory Islands. Vessels photographed en route included PACIFIC NAVIGATOR (B.C. pilot boat), POWELL RIVER QUEEN (ferry), PACIFIC FURY (tug), YUCATA (tug), SHAYMAR (tug), SEASPAN ROYAL (tug), PARAGON (tug), SEASPAN PACER (tug), OCEAN MARINER (tug), NORTHERN EXPEDITION (ferry), SUNRISE STAR (bulk carrier), NORTHERN ADVENTURE (ferry), RADIANCE OF THE SEAS (cruise ship), and STIKINE (an independent Alaskan ferry). Of particular note to members were shots of the grain and container terminals at Prince Rupert. These are evidently significant enterprises. Some of the more picturesque places included Higgins Passage, Ketchikan and Baranoff Glacier (north of Petersburg), and wildlife was in abundance off Scarlet Point (whales), Higgins Passage (eagles) and Ossipee Channel (grey whales). A salmon seine fishery was observed up close in scenic Chatham Strait, Alaska. A rendezvous with three Canadian coastal defense ships at the base of the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm was particularly interesting.
For those of us who were arm chair travelers this time round, President Warren’s photographs provided an unique and privileged glimpse of marine life along the west coast of Canada to Alaska. Each photograph was carefully and artistically arranged and gave the viewer a true sense of what it was like on the voyage. There were even shots taken on the less tranquil days to remind us of the effects of the sea when the weather is inclement. In all, it was a pleasurable evening, with much to reflect on. Thanks to Ray Warren for his time in assembling an excellent presentation.
► FEBRUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday February 8, 2012 — Ray Warren opened the February meeting with an invitation to members to contribute current news. Bill Etchell had made several notes to update the society with news of the LADY ROSE. He informed us that the vessel, which had been tied up in Port Alberni, has been moved to Tofino where she will be transformed into a museum and restaurant. He has been told that the restoration is expected to begin later this year.
Our evening speaker was Anthony Dalton, author of ten non-fiction books and co-author of two more, many with a marine theme, published by Heritage House. Members of the WSS may already be familiar with Anthony’s books and will be interested to learn that he has recently become something of a celebrity with his photo appearing on the cover of Senior Living. His talk this evening was based on his research for his book Fur TradeFleet subtitled, The Shipwrecks of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Our speaker began his presentation with a personal note, informing us that he was born in Gravesend, England, the port where the first Hudson’s Bay Company ships sailed from. The trek across the Atlantic, up the Labrador Coast, through the Hudson Strait, and into Hudson’s Bay was difficult in the early days of the Company. Each Captain, no matter how good, encountered the same dangers from ice on each trip. In these early days, the design of the ship made little difference, according to Dalton, faced with the immitigable threat from the ice. Each ship in his talk met the same fate in the icy waters of the north.
Mr. Dalton took those present on a journey through history beginning with the ANSONNORTHRUP, a 100 hp stern-wheeler which operated on inland waterways in 1859, to the NASCOPIE, a 1870 gross ton steamship built in the early twentieth century and fitted with an ice breaker on her bow which came to grief on a rock just off Kingait (Cape Dorset) along the coast of Baffin Island on July 21, 1947. We learned along the way about other ships (not necessarily ship wrecked) in the Hudson’s Bay Company fleet, including the first ship in what was to become the HBC fleet, namely the NONSUCH (meaning “unequalled”), a ketch built as a merchant ship in 1650 sailing under Zachariah Gillam into Hudson’s Bay in the first trading voyage. We also learned about the last ship of the fleet, M.V. KANGUK, a freighter built in Sweden in 1964, purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1982, and sold in 1987. She also had a close call with disaster running aground, soon after her purchase by the HBC, in the mouth of the Povungnituk River in Quebec on the East side of Hudson Bay with extensive damage to her hull.
Many of the shipwrecks occurred from the nineteenth century during a period when the Hudson’s Bay Company controlled most of the fur trade across Canada. Mr. Dalton gave us an illustrated history of eleven of the ships in the fleet including ANSONNORTHRUP, LADY HEAD (a three masted barque stranded on the Gasket Shoal in 1903), MOUNT ROYAL (stern wheeler operated by the HBC 1902-1907 and wrecked in Kitselas Canyon, 6 lives lost), STORK (a three masted barque, the last of the HBC sailing ships, caught in ice in Hudson Strait 1908), SS BAYESKIMO (caught in the ice entrance to Hudson Strait in 1925), LADY KINDERSLEY (a motor schooner launched in 1921 and caught in Arctic ice pack off Point Barrow in 1924), SS BAYRUPERT (a cargo steamer built in 1926 and ran aground July 23, 1927 off theLabrador coast), BAYMAUD (a motor schooner, formerly Roald Amundsen’s polar explorationship, purchased by HBC in 1926), BAYCHIMO (replacement for the LADY KINDERSLEY, caught in ice south of Seahorse Reefs, Alaska), and NASCOPIE.
Period drawings and/or photographs of the vessels accompanied many of the stories of the shipwrecks. Anthony had interesting details to tell us about each ship and we learned about several of the captains, most notably Captain Thomas Smellie and Captain Sydney Cornwell. One anecdote that made a connection for us to the Maritime Museum was the story that Sydney Cornwell used to make bets with Henry Larson to see who could complete their journey in the shortest time.
Anthony Dalton brought a supply of books to the meeting for members to look through and purchase. The evening concluded most satisfactorily, and we are grateful to our speaker for preparing such an interesting lecture for us.
► JANUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday January 10, 2012 — Prior to writing about our January programme, I would like to thank John Williams, membership secretary for the WSS, for his communication via Glenn Smith, to correct the October Meeting Report on the DVD The Liners of Liverpool (2010). John writes that the port of Liverpool had the world’s first commercial enclosed dock in 1715, the world’s first graving (dry) docks in 1765 and by the 1730s Liverpool merchants were making huge profits from the slave trade (although slaves were not generally brought to Liverpool for sale). By 1850 Liverpool was second only to London in size and its population was almost 400,000, and Cunard started the first transatlantic liner service in 1840. Many thanks for the correction John and it is an honour to have feedback from such an astute and knowledgeable reader in Warrington, England!
Our January meeting opened to the sound of Ray Parkinson’s mechanical musical boxes and it should be mentioned here that member Daniel von Richthofen visited us for the second time from Kemptville, Ontario. Welcome back Dan. Joan Thornley gave an update on the January 4th executive meeting including the news that our rental fee will increase $200 per year, and that Anthony Dalton has confirmed that he will speak to us in February on the Hudson’s Bay Company shipwrecks. Ray Warren announced that the executive wished to spend some of the recent donation money on a new laptop to improve the quality of our public presentations. As there were no dissenting voices on the issue from the members present, it was decided to go ahead with the purchase.
Under recent news and events, Bill Etchell showed us the souvenir plate picturing five BC ferries which he inherited from WSS member Ron Mitchell and informed us he had dated the plate to approximately 1963/4. Robert Etchell spoke about the decision of Parks Canada to preserve some former lighthouses as historic sites – news that will be welcomed by many members. Ray Parkinson spoke about the work of recently deceased businessman and philanthropist Milton Wong who was an instigator of the annual dragon boat festival.
Our evening presenter was Colin Preston, Archivist for CBC Television. Colin very kindly located two films of interest to the society. The first, a black and white and silent film dating from 1928/9, was entitled Port of Vancouver: Canada’s Pacific Port. This 45-minute promotional film was produced for the Vancouver Harbour Commissioners. In addition to many unique scenes of the working harbour, including rare shots of MONARCH, HMS HOOD, CHEEMO and AORANGI, we saw detailed footage of the Ballantyne Pier (1923) with its 13 electric cranes, and the new Numbers 1,2, and 3 elevators which had been built to accommodate the shipment of prairie grain. Each elevator could move 53 million bushels of grain per year. Modern cleaning and conveying machines had been introduced as well as a new floating elevator to accommodate the increased volume of trade.
The Port of Vancouver was also a reminder that Vancouver used to be home to many manufactured goods exported through the dock. Wire rope, mattresses and clothing were amongst the goods being made locally in 1928/9. The movie promoted Vancouver as a port of choice for exports to Asia and Europe (via the Panama Canal), providing safe passage for ships in winter when the eastern seaboard of Canada was grid locked in ice for four months.
The second film, Portrait of a Harbour, (1958), was produced by the CBC and showed extensive footage of the operations of SILVER BOUNTY, PACIFIC UNITY and ASOHARA MARU, in addition to the work of the CATES tugs. We learned that 1,500 deep-sea vessels came into Vancouver harbour in 1958 (for comparison, Neil England informs me that during 2011 there were just short of 3,000 ships in Vancouver harbour. Thanks Neil!), that there were 1,200 stevedores, and we learned a bit about the selection, training and pay of the pilots. Allan King was producer of this CBC film and Bob Reid was the cameraman.
The evening’s presentation was thoroughly enjoyed by those present and we express our gratitude to Colin Preston for the donation of his time and expertise in selecting two excellent films for us. This was a rare opportunity to glimpse the port of Vancouver in times past.
► DECEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday December 14, 2011 — Our December festive meeting was called to order by Ray Warren when members Joan Thornley and Len McCann arrived (right on time) at 8 pm. Joan wears many hats for the society, setting up the refreshments table for us early in the evening, fetching Len in her car, documenting the AGM in her capacity as recording secretary, and announcing future speakers as programme coordinator. Thanks Joan for a job well done and for serving the WSS in so many different capacities.
There were seventeen members present for the AGM on an evening marked by very inclement weather. Snow had been predicted for the evening, but we were fortunate just to experience some rain and wind. Festive lights greeted members in the museum parking lot and tunes from Ray Parkinson’s music box greeted members at the doors of the J. Torben Karlshoej Gallery. Thanks to Ray for the addition of the antique musical boxes once again. They have become a hallmark of the December meeting.
The AGM progressed smoothly. We are in solid shape thanks to the work of our president, Ray Warren, our Membership Secretary and Treasurer, Glenn Smith, and a good executive team. Board members remain unchanged except for the exchange of positions between Syd Heal and Neil England. After many years of dedicated service to the society, Syd has decided to retire from his role as vice-president and will become a director-at-large. Neil England will then step into Syd’s shoes as vice-president. Our membership remains virtually the same with new people filling the place of retiring members. Thanks go to Cecil Woods for his dedicated work as editor of the Ship’s Log and to Neil England for his excellent contribution (Metro Vancouver Scene) to the same publication.
One newsworthy item was mentioned under “other business.” The ST. ROCH and the Maritime Museum are to undergo repairs with city money ($1.3 million) in the year ahead. Unfortunately a recent newspaper report on the work incorrectly stated that the museum would be closed during this time. Members will be pleased to learn that the museum will remain OPEN during the repair process.
December is our members’ night and this year we were treated to digital photographs by Ray Warren and Ted Karanka. Ray began the public programme with pictures of his trip aboard STEVESTON LIFEBOAT with fellow artist John Horton. This beautiful vessel was built in Pearl Harbour in 1944, launched as ADMIRAL’S LAUNCH, became ARTISTS’LIFE and then STEVESTON LIFEBOAT under the care of John Horton. The ship’s number (2B 02) is a reference to its registration with the Canadian Lifeboat Institute.
Ray, John and two other men traveled up the west coast in mid June 2011. It was a trip of a lifetime. Ray showed photographs of ferries, tugs, cruise ships, fishing vessels, and other working vessels including POWELL RIVER QUEEN, YUCATA, SEASPAN ROYAL, INLET TRANSPORTER II, SEASPAN PACER, QUADRA QUEEN II, COASTALDESTINATION, NORTHERN EXPEDITION, NORTHERN ARM DILIGENT, OUTLOOK, SARAH DAWN and the ZEIDERDAM. His prize photographs, however, have to be his shots of the HMCS BRANDON in front of a glacier and the HMCSBRANDON floating beside a small iceberg. Ray’s creative skills can be seen in his photography.
Next in order of presentation, Ted Karanka showed his photographs of ships along the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories. He showed tugs, ferries, coastguard, and other working ships along the Mackenzie River during the very short shipping season (June to October). Excellent photos by Ted included those of LAFFERTY (a ferry which crosses the Mackenzie), NORWETA (the one and only cruise ship on the Mackenzie), DUMIT (a coast guard ship), VIC INGRAHAM (a tug), MARJORY (a tug), LOUIS CARDINAL (a ferry which crosses the Mackenzie), NAHIDIK (a coast guard ship), and the MERV HARDIE which used to cross the Mackenzie but has been replaced by a bridge linking the capital (Yellowknife) to the rest of the highway system.
Ted’s photos included sights near Fort Providence, the Hay River, Inuvik, Fort McPherson, Nunikput, Fort Simpson, and Iqualuit. They provided a rare and valued glimpse of maritime life in our far North. One member noted how calm the Mackenzie River looked in all of the photos and we learned that the river’s peak discharge occurs in June but because of the geography of the region (flat lands) and the many lakes in the region, the flow of the river is generally smooth. Many thanks go to Ted for his contribution to members’ night.
Season’s greetings to members of the WSS. It may interest members to note that the winter solstice occurs on December 22, and we may look forward to more daylight thereafter. Just think of all the happy sailing to come!
► NOVEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday November 9, 2011 — Our November program began with some interesting contributions from members of the Society. Ray Warren was pleased to announce a gift from long-time WSS members Roy and Jean Horne, and all members present expressed their appreciation with a round of applause. Ray reminded members that the two Russian warships at Canada Place were due to leave on Friday November 11th at 1400. Bill Etchell reported, from an article in the Western Mariner, that the IVANHOE is now at a shipyard at Anacortes. Ellen Ramsay gave advance notice to members about the June 3, 2012 regatta on the Thames River that will mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This will be the largest gathering of ships on the Thames since Charles II, three and a half centuries ago, and will be marked by historic vessels, replica ships, 40 narrow boats, 20 Dutch barges, 100 private motor boats, 30 and 40 tugs and barges and 250 rowing boats. There will be music, dancing, singing and fireworks aboard the ships.
Joan Thornley read the minutes of the last executive meeting, which mostly addressed the speakers’ program. The next twelve months are shaping up nicely and promise some fine presentations. Ray Parkinson shared some of his family’s pacifist history with us and brought records, now accessible on-line, of his father’s military service as a medic. He has a newsletter describing the sports, banquets, music and other social events used to entertain the service men on the front line. Ray encouraged WSS members to use computer records to explore this avenue of their family history as he has found them most enlightening.
Our presenter for the evening was Bob Hunter, an archivist with the West Coast Rail Association. He brought with him a selection from his own excellent collection of slides, and slides from the David Wilkie Collection now housed in the Archives of the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. His presentation was divided into two parts. The first part focused on unusual photos of marine-rail operations on the west coast, and the second part focused on tug boat operations on the coast. Each part began with historical slides from the David Wilkie Collection and the remaining slides were organized into chronological and thematic order with the most recent pictures dating from the 1980s and 1990s.
The rail-marine photos gave us an important glimpse into an era when the CPR used barges on lakes and coastal waters to transport cargo and rail. The first slide of the evening, from the Wilkie Collection, showed a CPR barge in 1974 on Slocan Lake, west of Nelson at a location named Rosebery. Rosebery is located four km northeast of New Denver and was a CPR shipyard and rail barge terminus from 1893. The photograph is unique in that it shows the locomotive and caboose on the barge and, in particular, this photograph shows two trains on the barge. Operation of the Slocan rail barge ended in 1988.
The second slide showed a locomotive going onto a barge at Slocan City, a service centre for the area’s silver-lead mines. Bob explained how the barge operated its rail service with the changing water levels. We then saw various CN barges off Swartz Bay and Victoria Harbour.
After a break for refreshments, Bob showed us slides of Seaspan tugs. He explained that his interest began with all things rail when he resided in North Vancouver for twenty years. This then developed into a fascination with tug boats and other marine activity. He set himself the task of photographing every tug he saw over those twenty years and hence his collection of photographs from that period. He showed us excellent shots of the SEASPAN GREG, GULF FREDA, COMET, RASCAL, SUDBURY II, GULF IVY, and MONARCH II. Seaspan now operates forty-eight tugs and Bob has a photograph of each one.
Bob concluded the evening with a photo from the Wilkie Collection dating from 1959. The caption says it is the DELTA QUEEN in the Victoria Upper Harbour, but is actually its sister ship, the DELTA KING. The deck cargo barge with a capacity of 3,600 tons emanates from the Sacramento River and was requisitioned by the US Navy in the Reserve Fleet during World War II. In 1952 the DELTA KING was sold to Kitimat Constructors to house Alcan workers. The vessel was later moved to Stockton, California where she was used as a restaurant, hotel, and museum on the Stockton Channel.
The evening was a great success. It was particularly interesting to see slide projection again in this age of PowerPoint. Some members were taken by the quality of light, shade, and depth in the slide projections. Bob Hunter stayed to answer questions from members and the evening was concluded with expressions of nostalgia and pleasure for the past and present of the marine-rail and tug operations on the west coast of Canada.
► OCTOBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday October 12, 2011 — This month’s scheduled public speaker program was postponed (speedy recovery Syd Heal) and so our October 12th meeting consisted of two excellent DVDs on nautical themes, thanks to James Conwell and Glenn Smith. The first DVD was entitled T2 Tankers 1942-1945: Wartime History of the Marinship Corporation, and provided us with insight into the shipyard (part of the Bechtel Corporation) at Richardson Bay in Marin Country, California, near San Francisco. During the height of production, the Marinship operation was able to cut 26 days off the construction record with one tanker completed in a mere 33 days after the keel was laid.
The Marinship Corporation was able to increase the speed of production by creating an instant city for its workers and designing the workplace into a buzzing assembly line based on mass production of parts. The company provided the workers with schools, hospitals, stores, entertainment, as well as housing for individuals and families. In the workplace, a hot food station was established to replenish the hungry workers. This turned the shipyard into a veritable beehive of activity with up to 5,000 workers watching the launch of each ship, the product of their hard labour. Today some of the buildings at the site still remain and one of them has been turned into a shipping museum. Thanks go to James Conwell for providing us with the DVD and for bringing maps, as well as answering questions from the audience.
The second DVD, The Liners of Liverpool (2010), provided us with a glimpse of the Cunard Liners and the shipyard legacy of the city of Liverpool. We learned that up until the 1870s Liverpool was a fishing village that then transformed into a major world port for transatlantic cruise liners until 1945. While the port now services major cruise ships, traces of the historic shipyard can still be seen in the interior design of some of the older buildings in Liverpool. The same people who designed the interior of the ships designed the older hotels, entertainment halls, and liner booking halls. The materials and fittings, as well as the design, replicates those of the original ships. In 1972 the last liner left the Liverpool docks.
The evening was a success and we may still look forward to hearing Syd Heal’s talk in 2012.
► SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday September 14, 2011 — Our new season of meetings was opened by President Ray Warren and with newsworthy contributions from members. Bill Etchell informed us of the book launched by Rick James of West Coast Wrecks & Other Maritime Tales to be held Saturday October 15 at 2pm at the Maritime Museum. Ray Parkinson drew our attention to his clippings on Arctic airships at the back of the J. Torben Karlshoej Gallery. Ray brings some aspect of his personal maritime collection to each meeting for the enjoyment of members. He also informed us of the good news that salmon have returned to Britannia Beach after the conservation work done there to repair the damage done by the long disused copper mine. James Conwell updated us on the restoration of the SS MASTER which will be wintered in Steveston following her appearance at several wooden boat shows. The vessel has had $60,000 worth of deck work completed but still requires more work,
Our September evening speaker was Auxiliary R.C.M.P. Constable Steve Ilott, the Coastal Watch Program trainer based in Richmond. Steve has been with the R.C.M.P. for ten years and brings a wealth of experience to his topic. His presentation was accompanied by relevant PowerPoint slides and he brought a collection of leaflets about the Coastal Watch Program with him.
The Coastal Watch Program is a combination of a Crime Stoppers and Block Watch program. The marine public is encouraged to become involved in the project by reporting any unusual marine activity to the toll free number 1-888-855-6655. This number connects the caller to the Federal Operations Center where the information will be rerouted to the correct agency. B.C. has 17,000 miles of coastline and only four R.C.M.P. vessels to patrol the area and so the agency relies on information from the public to assist its work.
The priorities of the Coastal Watch Program include countering drug smuggling, migrant smuggling, terrorism, customs infractions, environmental crime, homeland industry (including log theft), criminal code offences and vessels in distress. It is important that before reporting any unusual ship activity that as much information about the vessel of concern is garnered for identification purposes. It was noted that many of the small smuggling boats off our coast are painted black with windows and lights also blacked out for night work. All legitimate pleasure craft over 9.9 horsepower must be licensed and clearly marked at the front on either side of the hull, and commercial craft must be registered and displayed on the stern.
Auxiliary Constable Ilott’s talk was punctuated with examples of the successful operations of the Coastal Watch Program and questions from those present were answered with great attention and concern. It was of particular note that we learned of the division of work between the local police, the R.C.M.P., and the armed forces, and of the co-ordination of international agencies when working across national jurisdictions.
The evening was concluded with refreshments and exchanging summer news. We can look forward to an interesting and entertaining season of speakers ahead.ǂ
► MAY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday May 11, 2011 — The May meeting of the Vancouver Branch of the WSS departed from the usual scheduled speaker program in order to provide members with an evening of entertainment and socializing in the last meeting of the season before the breakup for the summer. The evening was filled with much conviviality and laughter, and some of us were left with teary eyes at the thought of not seeing each other until September.
The evening began with a greeting to two guests, Ted and Daniel, both from Ottawa. This was followed by an update on the LADY ROSE by Bill Etchell. Joan Thornley then read a copy of the minutes for the last executive meeting. (The directors will be meeting again on September 7, 2011.) Then our evening entertainment began.
Many thanks must go to Glenn Smith, who in addition to his many executive duties, has run the audiovisual side of our public program. Our presentations often require the most sophisticated power point projections, and Glenn is able to manage these as well as showing DVD films. The May meeting’s entertainment started with three short slide shows of exceptional photos of ships. The first showed a large ship that was capable of carrying and raising other large ships. The enormous strength and stability of this craft was remarkable. The second slide series consisted of a showing of orange and lemon sculptures at a seaside town in Spain. The third slide series consisted of a series of ships in storms, and the fourth slide series showed the break up of a tanker on rocks in England.
Members voted on the next presentation and watched a film entitled, "Mr. Ocean Liner: The Life and Times of Bill Miller." This film gave viewers insights into the remarkable life and talent of Bill Miller, the passenger liner expert, lecturer, and model ship collector. While Bill worked for 32 years as a celebrated teacher of middle school and social studies in New Jersey (He was awarded teacher of the year in 2002), his other passion lay in ships and ports; especially those near to his childhood home of Hoboken, New Jersey. This passion led to his second career as a guest lecturer on board over 50 different ocean liners and cruise ships where he became celebrated as an exceptional speaker. In addition to his passion to lecturing on ships, Bill Miller has written 70 books on ships and gone on 300 voyages to date, circumnavigating the globe seven times, making him an international authority on ocean liners and cruise ships. Bill has also developed a private collection of 4,000 books on ships, 15,000 photos and 900 miniature ship models. Of interest to WSS members is that Bill credits an early membership and participation with the WSS to sparking his interest in the international world of shipping. In the film, he recalls fondly his first articles appearing in the Marine News.
The evening ended with refreshments and comradely conversation. Many thanks go to Joan Thornley for her homemade treats. Here’s wishing all WSS society members a safe sailing season and a happy summer filled with outdoor activity. ǂ
► APRIL MEETING REPORT— Wednesday April 13, 2011 — Our April public meeting began with a round of applause for WSS Director and Recording Secretary Joan Thornley who has just retired from her position at the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. The members of the BC Branch of the WSS wish Joan a happy retirement and look forward to seeing her at future meetings for many years to come.
The evening’s members’ and public presentation began with a talk by Ken Mackenzie on the history of the Navy League of Canada from 1895 to 1965. Ken’s presentation on the League was thoroughly researched and contextualized with Canada’s attempts to build a naval fleet. He spoke at length on the details of the Navy League’s founding and its contribution to naval affairs in Canada. There was too much detail to give more than a gist here and so interested members are recommended to purchase a copy of Ken’s book at a special price.
Ken Mackenzie began his presentation by reminding those present that every history is in some part a reflection of the historian writing it. He introduced himself as an imperial historian, a museum and archival worker, and, foremost, a retired naval officer who specialized in operations. His book, Keeping Watch, is a labour of love that began almost twenty years ago, languished for ten or fifteen years, and then came to life again under a new national president of the Navy League.
The staff of the Navy League did not keep records prior to 1914 and so Ken had to use newspaper sources to fill in the early years of the League’s history. This history may be traced to an adjacent history of the British navy, something it was guided by but also wished to be separate from. This history indicates that there was very little support from politicians in Canada for a navy that would be part of the British imperial naval fleet, but there was some interest, albeit small before 1935, for a defense fleet on both coasts.
People who figure in the early history of the Navy League include Admiral Jackie Fisher who brought the first dreadnought; Pierre Etienne Fourtaine who has been called the “Father of the Royal Canadian Navy”; Prime Minister Laurier who did not want Canada to become part of what he called the “vortex of militarism”; Peter Wright, a seaman’s representative from Britain who spoke on seamen’s welfare; and Sir Clive Phillips Wolley who went across the country to gain support for the Navy League and established a corporate existence for the League in 1910. The context for all this work was that up until 1914 Canada had no navy, and between 1914 and 1930 had only one cruiser and two destroyers. As such from 1867, The Fisheries’ Protection Service serviced Canada, succeeded in 1910 by the Royal Canadian Navy. The I.O.D.E. served as an important support and advocate for the Navy League in the early years.
In 1916 the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society set up in Canada and helped advocate the Navy League. This it achieved and between 1917 and 1918, the Navy League set up across the country. The League had three aims. 1. to advocate seapower, 2. to assist in the welfare of seamen and, 3. to become involved in the training of boys. It achieved the latter with particular success. Canada had experienced problems with recruiting and retaining seamen but now the Navy League established a sea cadet program in Vancouver and twenty-two Institutes for seamen (hostels), and 8,500 sea cadets were trained by 1944; a singular accomplishment.
The major change in operations of the Navy League over this time was the switch from an organization primarily run by its president, to a corporate identity run from its offices. The main office remained in Toronto until the 1960s. By the end of World War II, the Navy League had come to realize that the recruitment of a type of person was as important as the training of the individual and they adjusted themselves accordingly.
This review only touches the surface of the evening’s thoroughly researched talk. Interested members are urged to purchase a copy of Ken’s book from the details on page 30, at a special price. This evening’s presentation formed part of another informative meeting for members and public of the WSS. We may look forward with warm anticipation to another evening of socializing and entertainment on May 11th, our last formal public gathering of this spring season. Lets hope the transition into spring weather will be swift and it will be easy sailing from then into the summer for all concerned!ǂ
► MARCH MEETING REPORT — Wednesday March 9, 2011. Our March members’ and public meeting welcomed Daniel B. Lemieux, retired R.C.M.P. Staff Sergeant, who presented the WSS with a power point presentation and lecture on the history of the ST. ROCH followed by a guided tour of the ship. Mr. Lemieux has been lecturing on the ST. ROCH since 1952, and he was personally acquainted with eight of the crewmembers including Jack Doyle. Part of this evening’s exercise was to show how an historical artifact can be transformed into a living memorial through the power of story-telling. The strategy certainly cast its spell on members as they walked through the ST. ROCH at the evening’s close. Many thanks to Jamie Purves of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for being present and making sure the ship was available for the tour.
Daniel Lemieux tackled two aspects of the ST. ROCH. He began by presenting the technical aspects of the ship that started life as a schooner and was converted into a ketch by raising the bridge. He then told us stories of the ST. ROCH from former crew members, and as she was sailed by Sergeant Henry Asbjorn Larsen in the 1930s in the Western Arctic, including her 1940’s trip through the Northwest Passage to establish Canadian sovereignty during World War II. Almost half of this account was about the Inuit people without whom the trips would not have been possible. The Inuit assisted with navigation and especially with over-wintering of the ship.
The ST. ROCH was launched in 1928 as an arctic workhorse for the R.C.M.P.. She has 323-ton displacement and is 104 feet long, 25 feet at the beam, with a draft of 13 feet. She needs 2 ½ fathoms to sail in. She was able to sleep 19 people providing they were “hot bunking” and she carried 150 tons of fuel or supplies. She has a six cylinder reliable diesel engine with a capacity of 150 horsepower, which achieved a speed of just eight knots. Later her engine capacity was raised to 300 horsepower but she was still only able to attain eight knots. She has a single screw propeller and a rudder that could be raised onto the deck. The hull was made of Douglas fir covered with Australian iron bark. There is cement between the decks and ice beams to reinforce the ship when she over wintered in the Arctic. The hull was a round egg shape that proved unstable in the water but served the purpose of popping the ship out of the water during the winter freezes. On one trip to the Gulf of Alaska, everyone on board was sea sick save for Henry Larsen who earned the name “iron-gut Henry.”
The regular crew consisted of men in the R.C.M.P. who volunteered for duty on board the ship and they were paid $1.25 per day in 1928 during her first year of operation. Henry Larsen (1899-1964) took out Canadian citizenship in 1928 and joined the ST. ROCH as first mate in 1928 and rose rapidly to become sergeant for $3 per day. He was the first person to steer a ship through the Arctic from West to East (1940-1942) and was the first to make the passage both ways (1944). In 1950 the ST. ROCH was the first ship to traverse North America making a huge journey for its 300 horsepower engine. For these reasons alone, the ship and Henry Larsen are noteworthy in Canadian and even world history. While in the Arctic the crew was responsible for enforcing laws and settling disputes, routine patrols by dog sled, recording weather, collecting taxes and taking the Census.
In addition to the technical information about the ST. ROCH and her duties in the North, Daniel Lemieux told stories from the former crewmembers. In particular he recounted the tough conditions and lack of common conveniences on board the ship. The Panipakuttuk family, the Inuit who aided their journey in 1944, showed the special resiliency of the Northerners by refusing berths on board the ship, preferring instead to live in a tent erected on the ship’s deck. The Inuit were vital to the survival of the ship’s crew as they knew where the ship could be safely wintered and they alone knew how to build igloos that would be crucial to the survival of the crew on land expeditions. Sometimes dog and sled teams traveled as far as 800 miles away from the ship to complete work. This required many nights in igloos as they only trekked 30-40 miles per day. The crew wore the same bone sunglasses with a slit in them as the Inuit did. Henry Larsen modelled himself after his predecessor in the Arctic, Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) and it is certainly possible to see the similarities of the two seamen as they traversed the Arctic.
The WSS BC Branch is most grateful to Mr. Lemieux for his most stimulating and informative public lecture and thank him for arranging for the tour of the ST. ROCH with the Museum as part of the talk. Everyone had a most entertaining evening and discussion continued into the night. It was a pleasure to “revisit” the ST. ROCH in our host Museum and to acquire a fresh perspective on an old friend.‡
► FEBRUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday February 9, 2011. February’s public lecture consisted of an outstanding presentation by WSS member Captain Tom McLean. Tom has spent his entire working life at sea or around ships beginning in 1960 with the Royal Canadian Navy (ten years) on destroyers, frigates and minesweepers, followed by obtaining his 2nd Mate’s Certificate in 1970 and Master, FG in 1981. On coming to shore, Tom worked as a marine and cargo surveyor on the BC Coast and in the Arctic and founded the McLean Taylor Marine Surveyors in 1997, a company he still does some work for. Since 1990 he has been a nautical inspector for the Bahamas Marine Authority and it is from experience in this capacity that he presented his evening’s talk.
Captain McLean’s illustrated talk was entitled, Behind the “Crew Only” Signs, and gave the audience a unique and comprehensive view of the entire range of activities of a cruise ship from the safety and operations viewpoint. The talk was divided into five segments beginning with some beautiful photos of the cruise ships themselves; the command center of the ship (the bridge); every aspect of the crew’s accommodation from sleeping to grooming and feeding; the mechanics of the ship; and finally the fire and evacuation procedures including a full fire drill. Tom gave us not only visual glimpses of the operation behind-the-scenes of the ships but also his insights into the crew and officer’s work.
Behind the “Crew Only” signs there is a large contingent of staff running the cruise ships. Many of the regular staff members are Filipino people but speak English, as this is the official language of the ships. The regular crew has modest but adequate cabins on the ship. Most of the ratings have shared rooms and shared bathrooms facilities but plenty of communal space for recreation. Officers have individual rooms and larger communal areas for the entertainment of official guests. Some of the jobs on board are 24-hour operations, including the laundry room and waste disposal service, and require an active staff to service them. We learned how all the new crewmembers are put through a daily two-week orientation to the operation and safety procedures of the vessel.
Captain McLean showed us photos of the modern bridge with its computerized control panels and small wheel and thruster levers. Despite the high level of computerization, everything must be backed up with paper work and the ships must be able to operate manually in case of a failure in the computer system. As such, each ship bridge has two sextants and the crew must prove to Tom, on his inspections, that they know how to operate the sextants from the way they hold them, to operating them from the monkey’s island behind the bridge. Tom’s job makes him familiar with all aspects of the ship’s safety and his tests are comprehensive taking a full three days to complete.
Next Tom gave us a look at the machine and engine rooms that stretch the entire length of a cruise ship. The chief engineer is a most important crewmember who spends much of his time on a computer overseeing the operations. We saw the machinery spaces, the machinery control rooms, computers, CCTV monitors, gauges, the main engines and propulsion motors, the gas turbine, the oily water separator, the refrigeration and A/C machinery, the steering gear, shaft tunnel, air receivers, water maker and, of course, the engineering workshop and machinists room. The ships are as self contained as any cruiser.
Tom also showed us all of the health and safety aspects of the ship from the galley to the sewerage treatment and garbage disposal system, all of which is also very comprehensive. Sewerage is treated on board until it has reached a level deemed safe to let into the sea, and the garbage goes through a process of either incineration or compression before recycling at a main port. Environmental standards are much higher today than they were in the past and cruise ship owners’ have spent millions of dollars on equipment that makes the ships more eco-friendly.
We then had a chance to look at a complete fire drill including an evacuation procedure. We saw the first responders at work on one of the passenger decks, the response of the Fire Alarm Bridge, the emergency generators, which might be necessary, the lifejacket lockers, and the passenger muster. We also saw the watertight emergency doors closing, the evacuation chutes, and the large variety of lifeboats and rescue craft.
In addition to this detailed talk on “behind the scenes” of a cruise ship, we were also treated to some of Tom’s excellent photographs. We looked at a number of ships sailing under the Bahamas’ flag including the NORWEGIAN SUN, VISION OF THE SEAS, INFINITY, SILVER SHADOW, and the SILVER CLOUD. Our member Tom McLean is to be thanked for the time and care he took to present this well organized and fully engaging illustrated lecture for the WSS branch. This was a talk that will be remembered for years to come. We are most lucky to have such an experienced Captain in our midst and we hope that Tom may have another presentation to give us in the time ahead.
► JANUARY MEETING REPORT — Wednesday January 12, 2011. The January meeting, presided over by WSS President Ray Warren, began with a report by Joan Thornley on the recent executive meeting. The membership was most delighted to hear that the rental for the room at the Maritime Museum will not be increasing. This announcement contributed to a great beginning to the New Year. The executive report was then followed by member’s contributions. William Etchell reminded members and guests that he has been bringing information about the NORWEGIAN EPIC for them to examine at the back of the room. James Conwell then gave us an update on the tugboat SS MASTER that is still afloat having had $40,000 worth of work done to the hull gifted by Allied in exchange for a tax receipt. She does, however, still need work done above the water line. A reminder of the significance of this steam-engine wooden-hulled tug: Arthur Moscrop built her in 1922 in False Creek, she has 200 ton displacement, is 85 feet long and cruises at over 8 knots. She was used between 1922 and 1959 as a tow for logs and barges in the Georgia Strait and since 1959 has been part of a preservation project to commemorate the workers in the B.C. towing industry. For more information on the SS MASTER and some excellent recent photos see the SS Master Society website at www.ssmaster.org.
Our evening speaker, Ellen Ramsay, addressed the topic of London’s Historic Inland Waterways: Part II. Last year Ellen spoke about the history of the Regent’s canal and narrow boats and the Thames Clipper commuter boats. This year she spoke about working boats on the Regent’s canal and three museum destinations along the South Bank of the Thames including two floating museums. Last year she emphasized the role of public access to the waterways, and this year she continued the theme by discussing the role of historic ship museums as destinations on the modern waterways.
Ellen began her illustrated talk with the London Canal Museum (f. 1989) housed in the 1863 ice warehouse of Carlo Gatti (1817-1878). The building is positioned on the Battlebridge Basin of the Regent’s Canal where Gatti’s ice arrived by barge along the canal. This ice warehouse is the only one remaining in Britain and is testimony to the industriousness of the Victorians. Gatti distributed his ice (up to 400 tons of it) to the hospitals, butchers, fishmongers, and ice cream makers along the canal system and by horse and cart. Originally the ice was imported from Norway.
The London Canal Museum houses two historic vessels: The CORONIS, a nineteenth century butty (one of a pair) narrow boat, inside the museum; and BANTUM IV, a 1950 pusher tug, on the basin outside the rear of the museum. The CORONIS provides an excellent example of the “roses and castles” motif typical of narrow boat decoration in the nineteenth century once families moved aboard, along with some “lace plates” decorating the iron stove cove. The BANTUM IV was built in 1950 by E.C. Jones and Sons of Brentford and used for gravel yard work. She has since been overhauled and repainted and is in operating condition. She possesses a Lister JP2 diesel engine that is hand cranked. Robert Ashton Lister (1845-1929) who originally manufactured agricultural equipment including sheep shearers started the company and eventually became renowned for producing combustion engines. By 1926 the Company had a workforce of 2,000 operating the plant 24-hours per day producing 600 diesel engines per week for their 6,000 UK customers alone.
Next on the list of museums was the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, a purpose built museum (1873), which has had a £20 million face lift (The Neptune Court) and the addition of a major wing (The £35 million Sammy Ofer Wing) due to be completed in 2011. Ellen took us on a perimeter tour of the “lower deck” of the museum including the figurehead of the POLYPHEMUS (1782), from a 64-gun ship launched during the American War of Independence that fought in the battle of Copenhagen (1801) and the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and was broken up in 1827. She then showed us the working machinery of the paddle tug RELIANT built by Messrs Eltringham of South Shields for service on the Manchester Ship Canal at a cost of £6,700; a figurehead from a Spanish warship of 1806 said to have escaped the Battle of Trafalgar the year before and had her figurehead stolen by four British Officers from the SIRIUS; Queen Mary’s Shallop built by King William III in 1689 as a royal river barge and operated as such until 1919; figureheads from the HMS BRISTOL (1861), a wooden screw propeller frigate, broken up in 1877 and the HMS ADVENTURE (1855) built at Birkenhead as the RESOLUTE and broken up at Chatham in 1877; and the speed boat MISS BRITAIN III (1933) built by Hubert Scott-Paine and which once held the record for the fastest single engine boat for over 50 years (exceeding 100 mph).
The third museum, a floating museum, illustrated in the evening presentation was the HMS BELFAST (1938), a Southampton class cruiser built by Harland and Wolff Shipyards under the order of the Admiralty. She and the HMS EDINBURGH (1938) were innovative cruisers that combined both the 10,000-ton displacement of the heavy cruiser with the rapid firing 6-inch guns of the light cruiser. The BELFAST required one change in design causing the guns to be triple mounted instead of quadruple mounted. The spare weight was used to increase her anti-aircraft armament. She had an interesting history being commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1939 under the command of Capt. G.A. Scott and during the Maritime Blockade of Germany intercepting and capturing a German Ship, the SS CAP NORTE disguised as a neutral vessel, the ANACONA carrying reservists from Argentina to Germany. A few months later after this early success she had a magnetic mine placed on her hull causing serious damage to her hull and machinery (and light casualties). It took three years for her to be repaired at the Devonport Dock and she wasn’t able to move on to more successful missions until after 1942 when she became the flagship of the 10th Cruiser Squadron as the most powerful cruiser in the Royal Navy. She now bulged amidships to a displacement of 11,500 tons with her stability improved and up to date radar and fire control systems added.
The HMS BELFAST went on to be active in the Battle of North Cape (1943) destroying the SCHARNHORST; Operation “Tungsten” where she destroyed the TIRPITZ, Germany’s last surviving battleship; Operation Neptune on D-Day; the evacuation of Japanese prisoners of War (1945); a refit in 1947; China (1948); Korea (1956); a refit for the atomic age in 1956 with an enclosed bridge, air conditioning and modern gunnery controls and new lattice masts; a round of Commonwealth countries as Britain said goodbye to the empire in the late 1950s; paid off into reserve (1963) and reclassified as a harbour accommodation ship. In 1971 her active life was over and the Imperial War Museum took over the job of turning her into a museum and since then seven million people have visited her.
The fourth museum on the Thames that was Francis Drake’s (1543-1596) GOLDENHINDE, originally named the PELICAN, a replica of Drakes’ ship of 1577 that circumnavigated the globe. Her figurehead (a golden hinde) and motto (“Virtue is the safest helmut”) were both taken from Christopher Hatton’s family coat of arms as one of the sponsors of the trip. Queen Elizabeth I, another sponsor of the trip, knighted Drake on his return and decreed the ship to be preserved at Deptford in 1580. As such she became the first museum ship in England. She broke up however in 1600.
The replica of the GOLDEN HINDE was designed by Loring Norgaard of California who hired Albert Elledge, president of a San Francisco tug and harbour-tour line to complete the work. She is a classic example of a mid-16th century warship during the transition from the carrack to the galleon, built along Venetian lines. She took three years to research from seascapes and engravings. In 1981 she was established as an educational museum and a second replica is moored in Brixham, Devon.
The members and guests of the WSS warmly received Ellen Ramsay’s talk and many of the questions probed the different aspects of Carlo Gatti’s ice trade in the nineteenth century. This aspect of the canal trade was of interest to all and would therefore make a good talk for some future event. Several members reminisced about the days when ice was delivered by horse and cart in Vancouver in the not too distant past. The evening was concluded congenially with refreshments and light discussion.
► DECEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday December 8, 2010. The solstice meeting of the WSS began with a long social accompanied by seasonal music from one of Ray Parkinson’s music boxes. Joan Thornley, one of our Directors, provided refreshments for the evening. At approximately 8 pm then, the members were called together by President Ray Warren for the AGM. Most of the discussion focused on ideas for the Society to save money or raise revenue to cover the shortfall in the budget. Last year’s officers will remain in their positions for another year.
Following another break for refreshments and conversation, the audience was gathered once again to hear members’ presentations. This year we were treated to a very informative and delightfully well illustrated slide show by our member, Ted Karanka, who showed images of Iqualuit at the start of the Sea-lift season in 1990-1992. Iqaluit became the capital of Nunavut in 1999 and is located at 63º15’North and 68º31’West on Koojesse Inlet near the northeast head of Frobisher Bay on southern Baffin Island.
Ted showed a number of flat-bottomed boats that came into the deep harbour to load on dry land including several craft in the Le Groupe Desgagnes Inc. He showed CATHERINE DESGAGNES built by Hall, Russell & Co at Aberdeen in Scotland in 1962 for the Burnett Steamship Co and christened GOSFORTH. In 1972 she was then purchased by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company and renamed THOROLD. In 1984 Le Groupe Desgagnes purchased her and renamed her CATHERINE DESGAGNES.
Other ships we were shown in Iqaluit included JAZ DESGAGNES and TERRA NORDICA, the latter built by Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., Port Weller Dry Docks division in 1964 for Chimo Shipping as the CHESLEY A. CROSBIE. She was purchased by Puddistar Trading Co and renamed. Her Canadian registry was closed March 13, 1992, and she was subsequently registered in Honduras as NORTHERN STAR of Northern Star Naviera. Ted also showed sea-lift tugs, sea-lift barges, coast guard launches and small craft in Iqaluit Harbour giving us a unique glimpse of life in the largely ice-bound small town.
Robert Etchell presented photos of his summer trip aboard the FRANCES BARKLEY. The FRANCES BARKLEY was built in 1958 and named RENNESOY in Stavanger, Norway, then renamed HIDLE and used in the Norwegian ferry fleet out of Stavanger. She is 128 feet long, with a beam of 24 feet and a draft of 9.5 feet bearing an engine with 400 horsepower from an 8 cylinder Bergen Diesel with a speed of 11 knots. She can carry 200 people and bears a gross tonnage of 300. She became the FRANCES BARKLEY in Canada named after the wife of a Captain William Barkley who sailed with her husband to trade on the West Coast in 1786. Alberni Marine Transportation now owns her. Robert then showed a selection of small fishing boats seen from the FRANCES BARKLEY including LADY JANE, AMIGO III, and an image of the former passenger/freight vessel LADY ROSE. He concluded with some photos of the former QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT, now PRINCESS JACQUELINE (for sale) and the Russian training ship KRUZENSHTERN.
Ray Warren showed his photos from the Canadian Naval Centennial International Fleet Review at Esquimalt and Royal Roads. They included HMCS VANCOUVER, SIR WILFRED LAURIER, USS CHOSIN, USS RONALD REAGAN, USS SAMPSON, JDS ATAGO, HMCS PROTECTOR, ALGONQUIN, and VICTORIA. Ray’s photos all displayed the artist’s touch and we were especially delighted to see the Snowbirds caught in a beautiful symmetrical formation.
Finally, Bill Etchell showed a selection of Andrew Kilk’s slides of ships around the world. Many of the ships were cruise ships, but there were also some naval ships and some smaller craft in the great ports of Europe, North America and Australia. They included NORWEGIAN SPIRIT in Juneau and Seattle, NORWEGIAN STAR in Skagway, CROWN OF SCANDINAVIA in Copenhagen, INFINITY in Vancouver, and BURKE PRINCESS in Stockholm, Sweden.
With our evening presentations at a close, members lingered longer to sup on more refreshments and to catch up with friends and acquaintances. Many thanks go to all of those who presented and to those who worked behind the scenes to make the evening a success. Here’s wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and we will look forward to seeing you all in 2011.
December 8, 2010. Photo by Robert Etchell. Ref: WS10-0463.
This photo shows the Vancouver Branch executive having just been elected by acclamation for the 2011 year. Seated, from l-r: Ellen Ramsay, Ray Warren (President), Glenn Smith (Treasurer & Membership Secretary). Standing, from l-r: Neil England, Syd Heal (Vice President), Cec. Woods, Joan Thornley (Recording Secretary). [12.2010]
► NOVEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday November 10, 2010. Our monthly evening speaker was David Williams, member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and bronze medal winner at the 2000 Para Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. His talk was titled, “Rumrunners and their Ships,” in place of the original title, “A History Cruise to Wigwam Inn.” It is hoped that he will return to speak about the cruises to Wigwam Inn at a later date as both talks are of interest to the Ship Society.
“Rum running” was the term used for smuggling liquor over water, often consisting of cases of whiskey, to the United States during that country’s period of Prohibition between the years 1919 and 1933. On land, the smuggling was more commonly referred to as “bootlegging” with it origins in the days when whiskey bottles were hidden inside men’s boots. In 1919 the Volstead Act, which introduced Prohibition, was named for Andrew Volstead, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which managed the legislation. In 1933, the Cullen-Harrison and Blaine Acts passed under Roosevelt’s administration repealing the Prohibition laws. The “rum” in “rum running” was a low profit item in the smuggling business and so Canadian or Irish whiskey became the more profitable smuggled good. Some ships carried as much as $200,000 in contraband in a single run and sometimes the bottles were diluted with water to make them even more profitable.
The method of delivery for smuggled goods was for a mother ship to transport the goods to the legal limit off the coast of the USA and then signal for smaller speedboats to come and take cases of liquor from her. At first there was a three-mile limit around US territory but as smuggling increased, the limit, known as the “rum line,” was extended in 1924 to twelve miles. Small boats often armed with machine guns and powerful aircraft engines and armour plating took the risk of completing the delivery to shore. The US Government ran patrol boats, typically 75-foot Coast Guard Cutters with a top speed of only 12 knots to intercept the illegal trade.
David William’s talk focused on some of the local ships used for smuggling. They included MALAHAT, MOONLIGHT MAID, KUYAKUZMT, SKEEZIX, PESCAWHA, KAGOME and BERYL G.
MALAHAT, referred to as the “Queen of Rum Row,” was a 245-foot, five-masted ship that could transport 60,000 cases of liquor in her hold and another 40,000 on deck. She was a slow ship capable of about five knots and was a prime target for the US Coast Guard who followed her on her trips along the coastline of the U.S.A. She had two smaller boats alongside capable of 35 knots while carrying many cases of liquor on board.
SKEEZIX, was the name of another smuggling ship built specifically for holding cases of liquor. She had two V-12, 400 hp engines capable of running at 40 knots and could easily out run the USCG cutters.
Sometimes fish boats were used for smuggling because they could disappear into a fleet and go undetected. Most of the smuggling was a nighttime activity and was very dangerous as the ships often ran without lights and were at risk of gunfire and raids from other smuggling ships. As the years progressed and the trade sharpened, the risks from competitors became very serious and ships armed themselves with machine guns.
In addition to discussing some of the smuggling ships, David Williams included a description of some of the local run runners including, H.W. Hobbs, Charles Hudson, and the Eggar brothers. Hobbs was a cattle rancher in Scotland who bought ships and loaded them with Irish and Scottish whiskey destined for the United States. He found the business so profitable that he decided to move to Vancouver to get into the business more seriously. His ship MOONLIGHT MAID went through a series of name changes from COLUMBIA, WASP, STADCONA, to KUYAKUZMT. In order to register the name of the ship in Britain (still the place of registration for Canadian ships at the time) he had to have a name that no one else had used, so he looked on a BC map and found a Kuyakuz Mountain and named his ship KUYAKUZMT.
Captain Charles Hudson, a RVYC member, was another immigrant to Canada who went into the smuggling business. Hudson came to Canada as a naval captain but then discovered a profitable trade in rum running from Coal Harbour. The system that he ran was quite sophisticated and included the use of short-wave radios and coded messages to contact other vessels and crew. At one point in his career he had a boat named KAGOME built at the dockyards near the Roger’s shipyard and refinery. Hudson was disappointed that the ship only reached nine knots and discovered that the wrong props had been installed, so he had them changed to make the boat much faster. One of his boats was seized along with its crew, including Hudson himself, but he had the acumen to go back on board the ship to get his logbook to show that he had been outside the 12-mile limit.
As time went on public and government sentiment turned against Prohibition and finally the Act was repealed under President Roosevelt in 1933 who signed an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act which allowed the manufacture and sale of 4% alcohol by volume.
David Williams was thanked for his public lecture by Ray Warren and presented with a book by WSS member Syd Heal. Members congregated and talked together in the J. Torben Karlshoej Gallery surrounded by beautiful maritime paintings current on display at the Maritime Museum.
One of our Directors, Joan Thornley, kindly provided the refreshments; Ray Parkinson brought a selection of his maritime treasures to share with members; Glenn Smith staffed the members’ table; and Robert Etchell oversaw the raffle table. Neatly arranged boxes of post cards of ships were available for sale by Don Brown, at the back of the room, and David Williams kindly made himself available for further discussion with members and guests. The conversations were convivial and it was apparent that all in attendance had an enjoyable evening. We may look forward to the members’ “Show and Tell” next month.‡
► OCTOBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday October 13, 2010. The evening's talk was exceptionally well organized and presented, leaving many members expressing the delight of having learned something entirely new about the charting of their coastline. M. Gervais' talk was divided into three parts: La Pérouse, the explorer; the search for the Northwest Passage, and the outcome of La Pérouse's trip.La Pérouse was born in France and, at the age of 17, became a naval cadet assigned to the Ile de France (Mauritius) and then to Boston in the American Revolutionary War. He was in charge of the French Division at the Battle of Louisburg and also fought the Hudson's Bay Company in Hudson's Bay. His naval career brought him many distinctions, one of which was the Order of Cincinnati awarded by General Washington. Today the eagle design on the Order is used as the seal of the American president.La Pérouse launched his Northwest Passage expedition at a time when Europeans felt, to some extent, that such a passage was still discoverable and when other countries such as Spain and Britain were also desirous of such a route. From 1688 maps showed Vancouver Island but few displayed anything to the north of it.While Henry Ellis was commissioned by Britain to seek an eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage via the Hudson Bay in 1746, The Ship Society's October public meeting was a most auspicious occasion that played to a packed house at the Maritime Museum. Jérôme Gervais from France, our speaker, attracted a large audience of both members and guests from the map and museum community as well as the French community. M. Gervais, an eloquent and thoroughly well researched maritime historian, was a man with a purpose. His talk was entitled "La Pérouse (1741-ca 1788) in Search of the Northwest Passage from Alaska to California 1785-1786" and his intention was to develop the knowledge and appreciation of La Pérouse's exploration of the Pacific Northwest, and to rebuild the historical landmark on Cenotaph Island in Lituya Bay, Glacier Park, Alaska.
President Ray Warren introducing speaker. Photo by Robert Etchell. Ref: WS10-0438.
Photo by Robert Etchell. Ref: WS10-0437.
La Pérouse set forth in 1785 to find a western passage. By the middle of the 18th century, the chronometer was being used with great success to record longitude readings and this aided exploration and charting immensely. King Louis XVI set out the objectives of the trip personally. One of the aims was to fill out the map of Vancouver Island and the regions north that were noticeably blank on Philippe Buache’s (1700-1773) map and the other was to find the Northwest Passage.La Pérouse set out in 1785 with two frigates, LA BOUDOLE and L’ASTROLABE, 110 crew on each, and supplies for four years. La Pérouse was also given the best scientists and best scientific instruments for his trip including two chronometers. Quite by chance, the young mathematician and cadet, Napoleon Bonaparte applied to join the expedition but was turned down in favour of another mathematician. Had he been selected, French history and world history would have been dramatically different.La Pérouse began his charting of the coast from Alaska and headed south to California. He located and named the sublime Port de Français (150 km NW of Juneau) on 3 July 1786, now named Lituya Bay. He explored the bay and negotiated the purchase of the island in it from the First Nations' People. The deed was buried on the island accompanied by medals of the King and Queen of France. He also purchased 2,000 seal skins to trade with China at a later date. He recorded the customs of the original inhabitants of the region and kept on good terms with them as Louis XVI instructed him to.On 12 July 1786 as La Pérouse left the bay, two of his small ships taking soundings were capsized in a windstorm, and twenty-one sailors drowned. La Pérouse, profoundly upset by the loss, built a memorial for them on the island that he named Cenotaph Island and placed a bottle in the soil with the names of each sailor who was killed in the storm.La Pérouse continued his journey south charting all the geographical features as he went. Due to fog on the coast he missed the Dixon entrance to the Queen Charlotte Islands but found Queen Charlotte Sound; found Nootka Bay but didn't recognize Vancouver Island as an island; and missed the Strait of Juan de Fuca. On the 27th and 28th of August 1786, he reached La Pérouse Bank, shallow waters off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and then headed south past San Francisco to Monterey Bay where he was welcomed by the Spaniards on September 13,. 1786. La Pérouse then set sail for Macau (3 January 1787) to trade his 2,000 seal skins (unfortunately he was not the first and thus received a lower price for the furs) and headed on to Australia. In 1788 all trace of Pérouse ends as he disappeared in wreckage on Mannicolo Island probably caused by a typhoon. Both frigates were destroyed.In the meantime, France entered into its revolutionary phase and La Pérouse's work could not be followed up. Some of the last words spoken by Louis XVI were "Do we have any news of La Pérouse?" The only information the French received of La Pérouse's discoveries were those that he sent home while on his journey. M. Gervais emphasized La Pérouse's contribution to our geographical knowledge of the West Coast and our knowledge of the First Nations' People, and reiterated his desire for the plate to be restored on Cenotaph Island. He noted that in 1958 a giant 524-metre wave hit Lituya Bay when a huge piece of mountain slid into the bay jarred by a quake generated by the Fault of Fairweather. Cenotaph Island was devastated in the quake and wave. As the Island is now an American National Park, it is unlikely that the park authorities will allow another marker. However, M. Gervais is determined that the memory of those sailors, La Pérouse, and the expedition will be remembered.Gifts were exchanged at the end of the memorable evening. M. Gervais gifted a reproduction of Philippe Bouache's map to the Maritime Museum. All were grateful for an exceptional presentation, an evening of knowledge, and good conversation afterwards.
► SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday September 8, 2010. Welcome members and friends to a new season of public speakers! Our September meeting was opened with a greeting from President Ray Warren to all present and especially to our special guests from the North Vancouver Museum and Archives.There were several announcements worthy of note. Guy Mathias, Curator of Collections at the Vancouver Maritime Museum is looking for photographs, memorabilia and general information about travel in steerage class on board steamships between the late 1800s and the 1930s. These are needed for a forthcoming exhibition at the museum. Contact Bill Etchell if you have items or information of interest.Daien Ide, reference historian at the North Vancouver Archives, is asking for personal stories about living and working in North Vancouver for the archives oral history program. The first oral history project will focus on life around the shipyards. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to contact Daien at email@example.com or 604-990-3700.Joan Thornley read the minutes of the Director’s meeting from September 1st. Most of the discussion at the meeting concentrated on the forthcoming speakers’ program. Ideas for public lectures for 2011 should be brought to the attention of the directors.Our evening speaker was Roland (Rollie) H. Webb, introduced by Syd Heal. Rollie has extensive ship going experience with the Canadian Coast Guard and ship yard experience here in Canada and in Seattle as President of Todd Shipyards (1993-2003). He was President of Washington Marine Group Shipyards from 2003-2008 and currently works as a consultant. ‡Rollie’s subject for his talk was “Submarines for the Czar” on Vancouver’s clandestine role in building subs for Russia during World War I. The story dates from 1915 to 1918 starting when Britain and Russia were allies in the War and America was neutral.
James Paterson, general manager of the Seattle dry-dock brokered a deal to build five submarines for the Russians at a site in Barnet, North Burnaby so as not to break the neutrality laws. The vessels were “H” Class subs that were 150 feet long and 16 feet in diameter with a descent depth of 200 feet.Submarine warfare was crucial and effective in World War I. Right at the beginning of the war Britain lost three major cruisers to submarine torpedoes. Those involved in the Canadian-assembled submarines were Charles M. Schwab, President of Bethlehem Steel in the US, James Paterson, General Manager of the Seattle Dry Dock, and Charles S. Meek, a Vancouver land developer. Paterson organized the entire project and was back and forth across the border to complete the deal.The submarines were completed in less than one year and were shipped in sections to Vladivostok and on to St. Petersburg. All five were in service by 1916. (None survived the war.) In 1917 the men were commissioned to produce a further six submarines, just before America entered the war, and this time they assembled the subs in downtown Vancouver. The Russian Revolution intervened in 1917 and the Russians were unable to pay for the subs, so the Americans purchased them in 1918 and they were kept in service until 1931. The story of the Barnet and Vancouver subs was a carefully guarded secret and even after the war the story was not broken until three books gave the details in 1964, 1977 and 1986. The entire story is told in Bill Lightfoot’s book, Beneath the Surface: Submarines built in Seattle and Vancouver 1909-1918 published by Cordillera Books (Syd Heal). This was the one and only period in which submarines were built in Vancouver.
► JUNE MEETING REPORT, by Glenn Smith — I received an unexpected phone call from Capt. Cees de Keijzer, Chairman of the Rotterdam Branch, and just had to do whatever it took to accommodate this unscheduled program, despite our policy of not holding meetings in the summer months. Capt. de Keijzer, along with his wife Olga, brought with them a digital presentation called “Navigare Necessare Est – Era Maritimus ex A ad Z”. Capt de Keijzer has had a long career in the Maritime Industry in Rotterdam and served for years with the Port of Rotterdam. The program was enthusiastically received by all the members present, and could easily have continued on for another two hours, or more. As the title of the program suggests, the talk started with a story about a vessel whose name started with the letter “A” – AGIOS IONNIS, followed by a “B” – BONTEKOE, and then on to a tale about the CORNELIUS MAERSK, DONGEDYK / DIEMERDYK, ENERGY CONCENTRATION / EUROBULKERX, FLARE, GLOBAL ENVOY, all the way down the alphabet to “U” – ULYSSES I, “V” – VLIST, “W” – WAALHAVEN, “X” – XX ANNIVERSARIO, ending at ZEEVAARTSCHOOL.It was a riveting presentation by Capt. de Keijzer, who has many, many stories to tell. He was invited to return again if he is ever on the West Coast of North America. Many thanks to Capt. de Keijzer for an excellent entertaining presentation. Capt. de Keijzer then presented the President of the Vancouver Branch with a WSS flag on a stand for the podium, a musical CD produced for the Port of Rotterdam and a copy of his latest book, “Mooie Schepen en Banen in de haven van Rotterdam”, co-authored with Hans Roodenburg.
Holland America Line’s DONGEDYK, leaving the Port of Vancouver sometime in the early 1960’s. Ref: WS10-0144.
► MAY 2010 MEETING
Cecil Woods, Director and Editor of the Ship's Log, opened the evening's meeting by ask those present for current news items of interest to members. Neil England, Director-At-Large and Ship's Log columnist drew the audience's attention to the new WSS-Vancouver Branch calling cards – 250 neatly organized and presented business cards – that members may use selectively to invite new people to meetings. The cards contain our meeting date, time and place as well as contact details. Neil designed these attractive cards, and members have been impressed with the final product. Thanks Neil.
Joan Thornley, Director and Recording Secretary of the Branch presented the minutes of the Executive Meeting of 5 May 2010. These minutes included a list of speakers from 8 September 2010 to 9 February 2011. Thanks to Joan, copies of the minutes were available to members present. Cecil thanked Joan and the executive for their sound advance planning. Syd Heal, Past-President suggested that a small gesture of thanks be given to speakers in the form of a book or bottle of wine. The Executive decided to adopt this measure and the evening's membership seemed to concur that this would be a good idea. Syd's suggestion for a small promotional brochure for distribution to prospective members was also adopted at the Executive meeting and will be worked on by Directors over the summer. All this is manageable within our existing budget.
Robert Etchell drew the meeting's attention to the 21st International Tugboat and Salvage Convention and Exhibition to be held 17-21st May at the Westin Bayshore Hotel. He also pointed out that there is to be an International Fleet Review at Royal Roads, Victoria 9-14th of June to mark the Canadian Naval Centennial. Twenty-eight naval ships representing over 25 nations will be there. Those interested should look at the Canadian Naval website for further information.
Syd Heal gave the evening's address on The Rise and Fall of the B.C. Fishing Industry and its Influence on Fishing Vessel Design. Syd began his talk by explaining that in addition to his specific and sustained interest in the shipping industry, he had twenty years experience as an underwriter and broker with much exposure to the big fleets controlled by the canning companies. In 1969 he joined the Bell-Irving Group who controlled one of the big three of the industry, the Anglo-British Columbia Packing founded in 1890. Henry Bell-Irving originally built the company that was to extend for three generations as a family business. In 1891 he bought out seven Fraser River canneries plus two on the Skeena to account for more than one quarter of B.C.'s total packed salmon. Only in 1969 did the company close its doors on its West Coast canning operation to concentrate on the East Coast herring industry.
Syd's talk was illustrated with digital images from the Rod Logan Collection, his own collection and some images from the Maritime Museum. They were organized chronologically from the nineteenth century to modern times spanning all vessels from whalers, draggers, trawlers, seiners, trappers, prawners, shrimpers to skiffs. We saw how the design of the ships developed to improve their productivity (and sometimes their appearance) and caught a glimpse of how design affects horsepower, fuel consumption and efficiency of ships. In some instances the design of the ship was aesthetically pleasing as well and practical. Syd showed a number of vessels that were converted from one use to another, and demonstrated some ships that were so poorly designed that it must have had an adverse effect on the operating economics of the vessel. Many conventional seiners have been converted to draggers while others have been purpose built.
The whalers perhaps stood out of the modern viewer now that we are accustomed to an international prohibition on the whale industry (despite Japan's continuance of the practice). Steam powered boats much altered the design of craft in this form of fishing. Syd then moved on to the draggers that were notable for ripping up the sea bottom and causing irreparable damage to sea life including cod, halibut and coral off the West Coast. Trawlers then grew in dimensions and many of the conversions were to this type. These vessels were productive but risked capsizing if filled beyond capacity. The First Nations' ships stood out as some of the largest and best built judging from the photographs.
One of Syd's main messages during his talk was that, in his opinion, the decline in the fishing industry was largely due to greed in the industry itself. This is evident, he explained, from the vessels, the style of fishing and the handling of the fish over the decades. He pointed out that the industry has been quick to blame others, including fish farmers and loggers, for the decline in the fish stock, but they need only look at their own fishing practices to see that they have been overexploiting the renewable fish stocks. The two big fish on the West Coast were salmon and herring, both cyclical stock, and special care needs to be taken not to allow these species to become extinct outside the farmed fish.
The presentation was very comprehensive. One of the questions from Don Brown was related to the different registration numbers on the top and sides of the ships and whether there was an international standard for these. It was agreed that we might seek a speaker to address this question. A good subject for next year perhaps.
Cecil Woods thanked Syd Heal for his thoroughly enjoyable talk and invited members to stay and socialize. Members are reminded that raffle tickets, at a bargain price, are available at the start of each meeting and we can always use more quality prizes to entice people to buy more tickets. The post card collection of vessels from all over the world is also available for perusal and purchase at our meetings with an average price of just $2.50. All kinds of membership goodies are available at Glenn Smith's tables and members often bring things of interest to share and exchange with other members.
The evening was a very good conclusion to a full season of speakers. Members will be notified if there are any activities over the summer, but for some of us we will have to wait until September 8th to return to our regular monthly meetings. Our September speaker will be Rollie Webb on modern tug design and construction. Have a pleasant summer and remember to stay safe on the water.
► APRIL 2010 MEETING Our April meeting opened with notes by members on projects they are involved in or following with interest. Ray Parkinson spoke briefly on the progress of the Pacific Maritime Centre in North Vancouver and reminded us that Simon Robinson has been appointed Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum thus putting that institution in good shape. Bill Etchell displayed a poster of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship LOUIS S.ST. LAURENT, named after the former Prime Minister of Canada. Classed as a Heavy Arctic Icebreaker, the ST. LAURENT was built in 1969 by Canadian Vickers Ltd in Montreal and is the flagship of the Canadian Coastguard. She has been based in Dartmouth, N.S. all her life.
Syd Heal polled the membership about a possible presenter for the forthcoming meeting in October. Gérôme Gervais of France is going to visit Vancouver for a conference on the Age of Sail at UBC in October and is going to present a paper on Comte de la Pérouse (1741-1788), a contemporary of Captain James Cook. Péruse was appointed in 1785 by King Louis XVI to lead a scientific expedition around the world and to complete Cook’s exploration of the Pacific. Pérouse’s expedition on board the ASTROLABE and sister ship BROUSSANT disappeared without a trace. The poll of members present showed them to be very interested in having M. Gervais speak to us. Syd Heal hoped the addition of this speaker would help to broaden the range of ships discussed in our meetings.
Tonight’s speaker was veteran author and museum board member, Eric Jamieson. Mr. Jamieson gave an illustrated talk based on his latest book, Tragedy at Second Narrows: the Story of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge published in 2008 by Harbour Publishing Co. Members might also be interested in another book Jamieson has co-authored with Gareth Wood entitled, South Pole-900 Miles on Foot.
The original Second Narrows Bridge, connecting Vancouver with North Vancouver at the second narrowing of the Burrard Inlet, was completed in 1925. The bridge consisted of a car and train deck with a bascule portion close to the south shore, which rose to let ships through. From its conception the bridge experienced collisions with ships due to the quick current at this part of the Narrows. At one point the bridge was out of commission for four years, causing the bankruptcy of the North Shore municipalities.
A second bridge underwent construction in November 1957 adjacent to the original bridge. Premier WAC Bennett and Highway’s Minister Phil Gaglardi chose a six-lane cantilever steel-truss bridge by Swan, Rhodes and Webster (later known as Swan, Wooster and Partners). The bridge’s main span was to be 335 meters of its total 963- meter length. This bridge was the cheaper of the options before the government costing $11,600,000, although upon completion the bridge costs had risen to $26 million. A partnership, Keiwit Raymond, was to do the concrete work on this bridge while Dominion Bridge would erect the steel. Dominion Bridge and Swan, Rhodes and Webster had good reputations and plenty of experience with bridge construction. The workers hired belonged to the Ironworkers Local 97 with a charter dating back to 1906. While the bridge plans looked solid engineering work on the Second Narrows Bridge had a long history of danger for workers with four men losing their lives even before the great tragedy of June 17, 1958.
The collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge is believed to have occurred due to a number of factors, one of which was an error in calculation that caused the falsework to collapse thus bringing down two spans of the bridge. The falsework is the supportive structure that temporarily holds the cantilevered span of the bridge in place until the span reaches the next pier. Once span five dropped, it caused span four to collapse as well.
The collapse occurred at 3:40pm and sent dozens of workers approximately 60 meters down into the water. 18 men were killed, some instantly, and one diver drowned while looking for bodies in the recovery attempt. There were many acts of heroism by local people as boats went into the area to help with the rescue. Some men were recovered even though they had been washed over two kilometers away.
A Royal Commission was established to discover what part negligence may have played in the tragedy and whether the Toll Authority was involved. The Commission headed by Chief Justice Sherwood Lett eventually found fault with Dominion Bridge and Swan Wooster. The Commission found a number of issues that contributed to the collapse including: errors made on a critical design sheet; questionable quality of steel in the upper grillage assembly of the falsework; complacency with respect to the way falseworks were treated; and a flawed column formula.
The tragedy of June 17, 1958 turned into a local event that left its mark on many peoples’ lives. To this day there are still those who can state what they were doing when they heard the news. There were also many eyewitnesses. It is a great reminder of how dangerous bridge building is. In 1994 the bridge was renamed the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows crossing to commemorate the men who died in the tragedy.
The evening’s talk was very thorough and members were challenged with many technical terms that were clearly explained. There was a brief intermission in the talk when members could refresh themselves with the coffee and biscuits prepared by member June Etchell. Members and guests of the WSS then returned to hear the final half of Eric Jamieson’s talk before a short Q&A period. There were many interesting questions and it turned out that several of our members saw the bridge collapse in 1958 or vividly remember receiving the news. Several copies of Eric Jamieson’s book were purchased testifying to the members and guests satisfaction with the talk.
► MARCH 2010 MEETING REPORT —The March meeting of the Vancouver Branch was opened by President Ray Warren and began with business notes and information for members. Unfortunately Joan Thornley, the recording secretary was ill and so the minutes of the March Directors’ meeting will be postponed until a later date.William Etchell brought information to the meeting regarding Royal Caribbean International’s OASIS OF THE SEAS (2009), the largest and most expensive ($1.24 billion) cruise ship in the world built in Turku, Finland with a capacity to carry 6,300 passengers. He also informed the membership that the MILL BAY FERRY, the oldest in the BC Ferry fleet (1956), is to retire from service this year.Ray Parkinson informed members that he is continuing to bring books and items from his collection for sale at the monthly meetings and that the part proceeds will be donated to the WSS.Bill Etchell reminded us that next month’s speaker, Eric Jamieson, won the B.C. Historical Federation Award (presented by the Lieutenant Governor) for his book Tragedy at Second Narrows at last May’s meeting in Nelson. Members can anticipate an excellent presentation.President Ray Warren next welcomed visitors to the meeting including David Rahn, publisher of the Western Mariner magazine, as well as two active members of the West Coast Railway Association, Bob Hunter and Bill Marchant.Our evening talk commenced with Ray Warren’s slide presentation on the American standard ships built during the late 1930s and early 1940s as freighters, tankers, and troop ships, some of which were converted following the war for other uses and mainly retired in the early 1970s. He also looked at some of the longer lived tugboats built during the 1940s.Ray Warren illustrated the C-1A, C-1B, C-1 MAV1, C-2, C-3 and C-4 class ships, all designed by the U.S. Maritime Commission (MARCOM). The smallest cargo ships were the C-1MAV1s. These ships were designed for shorter routes where high speed and capacity were less important. Many were built for military uses during World War II. Pennsylvania Shipyards built 44 of the C-1A diesels favoured by Scandinavian owners. Illustrated was the Norwegian flag SOLSYN also known as GOOD YEAR under Singapore registry, and PRESIDENTROXAS. SANTA VICTORIA was shown as an example of a C-1B steamer.The C-2 class ships were designed by the MARCOM to be all-purpose cargo ships with five holds and better speed and fuel economy. This class included SIERRA owned by Oceanic S.S. Co., a division of Matson Line and SANTA MALTA of Grace Line. Some C-2’s also illustrated were owned by Sea King Line and Hellenic Line.The C-3 class of vessel designed by the MARCOM was built to be larger and faster than the C-1 and C-2 types. They were 492 feet long and could reach a speed of 16.5 knots. Many were built during the war as escort carriers and destroyers, submarine and sea plane tenders. They included AFRICAN MOON and AMERICAN MAIL. Many of the C-3s were built in Tacoma or Portland. The MORMACWIND and MICHIGAN were standard C-3s. LIMBURG, ZEELAND and RONDO were completed for Dutch owners in 1946 on escort carrier hulls but were classed as modified C-3s. The C-4 class of ship was developed for the American-Hawaiian Line in 1941 but the ships were taken over by MARCOM. They were built as cargo and troopships in Richmond (CA) and Vancouver (WA) and could reach 17 knots powered by steam turbines connected to a single screw. They included VALL MOON, CALIFORNIAN, MAUNALEI, HAWAII BEAR and NEW ZEALAND BEAR.
The tankers were much longer lived than the cargo vessels and so went through a greater number of conversions. The T2 tankers were built in record time (70 days). Before Pearl Harbor they were built by the Sun Shipbuilding Company for Standard Oil. After Pearl Harbor they were mainly used en masse to supply US warships. Ray Warren showed CATAWBA FORD, ATLANTIC TRADER and MISSION BUENAVENTURA, examples of the few T-2s to retain their original names throughout their careers. The NEVADA STANDARD was also shown.Some of the ships had a colourful history of conversion. Of local note was a ship that began life in 1944 as the WILLIAM NOTT for the US Navy but was completed as the ROBERT M. EMERY for the US Army. Bethlehem Steel in Brooklyn converted her to a port repair ship and in 1946 the vessel went into USMC Reserve. In 1965 she was sold to Portland Oregon Shipbreakers but in 1966 was resold to Canadian buyers and towed to Victoria, B.C. where she was docked at the foot of Fort Street. Sold again in 1969 to US buyers, the vessel eventually became an aquarium known as Marine Wonderland docked in Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. She was withdrawn from service in 1970 and towed to Astoria. As the ROBERT EMERY, the photo shows the vessel in Commencement Bay, Tacoma in November of 1984, probably awaiting scrapping.
► FEBRUARY 2010 — Due to the 2010 Olympics held in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler, the Vancouver Branch of the World Ship Society did not hold their monthly meeting in February. The next meeting will be held on March 10th at 7:30 pm at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
► JANUARY 2010 MEETING — Wednesday January 13th, 2010. Ray Warren, President of the World Ship Society, Vancouver Branch launched the 2010 public program with a welcome to members and a log of seaworthy events. Of local interest was the news that the CSCL Hamburg, a 4,250 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) container ship built in 2001 belonging to the Seaspan Corporation’s 42 container ship fleet ran aground in the Gulf of Aquaba, Egypt on December 31, 2009 while en route to Singapore. According to news sources there were no personal injuries and no oil spills and the insurer is expected to cover the repair costs. The company is coordinating the recovery of the vessel with the Egyptian authorities. WSS member Ray Parkinson then gave members a brief political history of the National Maritime Museum project from the 1980s. He explained that the A-frame St. Roch building is Federal Government property and classified as a museum dealing with cultural artifacts and thus is secure as an independent site, however it was never feasible to build a Maritime Museum of the Pacific at this location because the dock is too shallow to accommodate visiting tall ships. Coal Harbour had therefore been proposed as an alternative site at the time when the Trade and Convention Center was being discussed but the plans failed to materialize. The National Maritime Center for the Pacific and the Arctic on the North Shore therefore emerged with the City of North Vancouver working on the plans for five to ten years to be funded by the three levels of government. The current work in North Vancouver is in tact for 50 years funded by high-rise and condo development. Unfortunately this week however the provincial government announced that it has rescinded any further funding for the project due to budget changes. The city of North Vancouver is confident nonetheless that it can go ahead with some changes of its own. Ray Parkinson concluded that this was all part of the process of launching such a project and while it is a protracted process it reflects the usual ebb and flow of politics.Joan Thornley, the Society’s Recording Secretary, gave an account of the first executive meeting for 2010. She informed members that most of the directors’ discussion focused on the forthcoming program for 2010 and 2011 and that the society looks in good shape for the public talks. She asked if any members have ideas for speakers or suggestions for topics that they bring them to the attention of an executive member. The executive will be meeting on a regular basis now whereas in past years they have met more informally.The January program commenced with a presentation by Ellen Ramsay entitled, “London’s Historic Inland Waterways: The Regent’s Canal and the Thames.” The talk was divided into two parts. The first part dealing with the Regent’s Canal, looked at the golden age of canals from the 1770s to the 1830s. The narrowboats (the correct name for canal boats) that traversed England’s national system of canals predated the national rail system and quickly replaced the horse and cart for carrying heavy loads. The narrowboats were able to carry ten times more than a horse could pull — up to a weight of 30 tons of coal — were just 6 feet 10 inches wide, 30 feet long with a headroom of 6 feet. The boats were often designed to the exact maximum that the canal and locks would allow in order to maximize the profit. John Nash who designed the Regent’s canal originally intended it to run through Regent’s Park, but the final plans had the canal run around the Outer Circle Road on the north side of the park.
The canal was completed in 1820 and the fill from the canal was used to build the picturesque Primrose Hill just north of the Prince Albert Road. In 1929 the Regent’s Canal merged with the Grand Union Canal from the Midlands allowing for a 136 mile run with 166 locks. Post-war reindustrialization and the advent of trains and highways contributed to the decline in the canals and today the inner city section of the Regent’s canal is primarily used by leisure and tourist boats such as Jason’s Canal Boat Trips (est. 1951). Pedestrian and cycling commuters use the towpaths.‡
The second part of the talk illustrated the recent attempt by the city of London to use the Thames Waterway for commuter traffic. In 1999 Sean Collins and Alan Woods began a transit service with one boat under license from London Transport. The business, known as Thames Clipper, has expanded to 12 catamarans and has been bought by the Anschutz Entertainment Group operating from Millbank to Royal Arsenal Woolwich. The catamarans hold up to 220 seats, are 38 metres long and 9.3 metres wide with a beam of 9.6 metres and can operate up to 28 knots with rapid acceleration from a 965 horsepower “quickshift transmission” twin propeller engine. The fleet is not yet fully integrated into the public transport system but transit cardholders receive a 33% reduction in price. Ellen Ramsay used digitalized images in her talk to illustrate the sights along both waterways. Questions followed with members enquiring about the boating on the inland waterways in more detail.
► DECEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday December 9th, 2009 — Our December meeting opened with the Branch's Annual General Meeting. All officers’ reports were read and adopted. The out-going President, Syd Heal reiterated the need for a succession strategy for younger members to take office. The Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Glenn Smith, reported on the healthy maintenance of the membership (180 subscriptions to the Ship’s Log) and explained the very slight fall in revenue due to the decline in sales of postcards, books, raffle tickets and contributions towards refreshments at meetings. A full slate of officers, including two new members, was voted in with Ray Warren now the new President, Syd Heal the new Vice-President, Glenn Smith continuing as Secretary-Treasurer, Cecil Woods as Editor of the Ship’s Log, Joan Thornley as Recording Secretary and Neil England and Ellen Ramsay as Members at Large. Seasonal refreshments organized by June Etchell and music by Glenn Smith followed the Annual General Meeting
The monthly program commenced with a selection of slides provided by Andy Kilk from San Francisco Bay area of all varieties of ships at international ports presented by Bill Etchell. James Conwell then gave an overview of the port of San Francisco explaining the complexity of the port structure which is really nine conjoined bays including South and Central San Francisco, Richardson, San Pablo and Suisun, the latter two being connected by Carquinez Strait. While the area of the Bay is large at 400 square miles, the navigable portion of the bay is relatively small with an average depth of 15 feet. This depth is due in part to the hydraulic (placer) gold mining in the late 1800s. Jim described the ship building significance in the historic Bay area and then pointed out that now the Bay area is used for cruise ships and some container ships at the Oakland Container Terminal. Jim gave members three pamphlets published by the Naval and Maritime Museum and the Sausalito Historical Society that celebrate the port’s past and draw attention to the eight maritime museums in the Bay area.
Robert Etchell gave the third presentation with photographs taken with his new digital camera on his trip to Newcastle Island in Nanaimo Harbour. Robert showed the historic Newcastle Island Pavilion now run by the Snuneymuxw First Nations’ People – a pavilion that has been used for dances and weddings over the decades and is an historic building in its own right. Robert also showed photographs of working boats and other vessels off Tyee Point and Marks Bay between Newcastle and Protection Islands. Next he showed an extensive collection of excellent photos of the QUEEN OF PRINCE RUPERT commemorating the ferry’s 43rd and final year of sailing. The ferry had been built in 1966 by the Victoria Machinery Depot Co and served the Inside Passage until its decommissioning on April 20, 2009.
The final presentation of the evening was a display and presentation by Ray Parkinson of some small books from his huge collection of historical memorabilia. This year he brought items from the 1950s of the early minstrel shows and illustrated the links to the blacking tradition of the Lancashire coalfield. He also explained how this part of his collection had brought him into friendship with John and June Pender and Harold Steves of Steveston.
The evening’s presentations and entertainment were brought promptly to an end at 9:45 with the museum staff coming in to put away the chairs — despite the fact that there were still two presentations to be shown. In all the evening had been a success and many thanks go to the people who contributed to its success. [EH 12.2009]
Ed. Notes: Those presenters who were unable to give their presentations due to time constraints, will become the basis for the January 2010 program. Our thanks to Ellen Ramsay for the detailed write-up of each of our programs since November 2009.
► NOVEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday November 11th, 2009 — Our November meeting opened with a reminder from the President Syd Heal that the December meeting will begin with the AGM and that since the organization has an aging profile he expects younger people to take over more of the responsibilities of the organization. If this does not happen there may have to be changes to the organizational structure of the branch and to the monthly meetings.
The November speaker was Mr. Cary Dicerni of Subsea Solutions Alliance, an underwater ship maintenance company specializing in significant repairs to ships while they are still in the water rather than in the dry dock to reduce the loss of production time. All-Sea Enterprises group (est. 1978), the Vancouver branch of Subsea Solutions Alliance (est. 2002), and its sister organizations around the world are able to mobilize to any part of the world in 24 to 48 hours. The group currently has standing contracts with Rolls Royce and Wartsila Propulsion and fulfills warranty repairs for other companies.
All-Sea Enterprises offers four main innovative underwater service repairs: Stern seal replacement and repair, permanent shell plating replacement and repair; machinery replacement and repair; and underwater inspection and maintenance. The company uses a variety of airlift bags to do dry repair to propellers and inserts Transhabs (air balloon environments) to repair the aft propeller shaft seals. The company custom fits the Transhab around the shaft and a trained technician descends into the secure air environment to conduct repairs just as if the ship was in the dry dock. Attention is paid to safety at all times and all environmental controls are observed.
Mr. Dicerni stressed that ship maintenance is very important to the performance and cost of running ships and All-Sea is able calibrate the propellers with the engine, and eliminate cavitations and harmonics on older ships. Members and guests of the WSS received the speaker with great interest and there were many questions both during and after the presentation. Don Brown, June Etchell, Syd Heal, Anthon Dekkers, David Chamberlain, Robert Etchell and others in attendance raised pertinent points for discussion and Mr. Dicerni answered each question with attention to detail. [report by ELR]
► OCTOBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday October 14th, 2009 — Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! We lost the power cord to the projector. So we borrowed another projector—only that one wasn’t working well. With no other choice, Syd Heal went ahead with his talk about his latest publication “Canadian Capers” (which is detailed on Page 30). Syd gave us a very interesting in-depth history of the author, Svein Stokke, and his maritime activities over the years, including his involvement with the Washington Marine Group of companies. Near the end of his talk, we did manage to get some of the images shown, but hopefully we can re-run the slide presentation part of the talk on another night.
► SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT — Wednesday September 9th, 2009 — The September meeting at the Vancouver Maritime Museum featured an illustrated slide show presented by Ray Warren. The subject was the wartime standard ships taken after the war at Vancouver. For those of us able to remember when the wharves and docks around the harbour here often full with American-built Liberties and Victories, Canadian-built Forts and Parks and British Empire types, it was a journey into nostalgia. In those days ships looked like ships with funnels amidships and a gracefulness that today's ships have difficulty in emulating. Today's ships too often look like barges with an exhausts so far aft that they look like they are ready to fall off over their broad transom sterns. Thanks Ray for an interesting presentation‡ [SCH]