Shipping Lines - busy but enjoyable weekend at Montrose port

How does a ship observer spend a weekend? On a Friday afternoon the Skandi Hera arrived in the port and appeared to do what looked like a “pirouette” to berth at the South Quay close to the grain store.

Saturday, 18th November 2023, 3:29pm
Shipping Lines - busy but enjoyable weekend at Montrose port

Then BB Octopus edged astern to clear Berth 3 for the pending arrival of the coastal tanker Shannon Fisher which flew the flag of Bahamas, being registered at Nassau. In between times saw the departure of the Norwegian-owned, Mandal-registered anchor handler Njord Viking, regularly seen with her “fleet mates” Brage, Loke and Magne in Montrose port. The aforementioned Norwegian port is located at the southern tip of Norway and the birthplace of Christian Salvesen, whose family migrated in the 19th century to the east coast of Scotland, mainly around the Forth estuary. They founded a series of business ventures from shipowning, whaling and offshore drilling to frozen food stores and distribution. At one time Christian Salvesen was in partnership with Montrose-born and educated “Napoleon of Salvage” – Thomas Armit as the East Coast Salvage Company.

The following day saw the arrival of construction/ inspection/ repair/ maintenance vessel Boka Polaris which has been an occasional caller at Montrose over the past few years initially as the orange-hulled Toisa Polaris, then returning as the blue-hulled Bibby Polaris and now under her present guise with a grey hull as that of international Westminster Dredging Bos Kalis BV, an Anglo-Dutch group long established in a wide range of marine activities worldwide. Other vessels in the wide-ranging fleet seen at Montrose port have been Boka Pegasus and more recently Boka Topaz. A much earlier dredger W D Enterprise owned by the group, was the main vessel contracted for the creation of the Sea Oil base in the early 1970s.

She was followed in later years by the smaller W D Medway and a succession of dredgers of other owners culminating at the time of writing with the UKD Orca. What brought the subject of dredgers to mind was the hull colour of the BOKA ships.

The W D Enterprise had been built by Simons-Lobnitz on the Clyde at their yard just downstream from the Renfrew Ferry. The company specialised in the building of dredgers and hoppers which helped navigation in rivers and other waterways not only in the UK but overseas in Africa, India and most famously in the Panama Canal.

Simons yard started in 1860 and their competitors Coulburn Lobnitz & Co. set up in 1874. The two companies merged in 1957 closing less than a decade later in 1964 having built 1300 dredgers, barges and tugs. One ship built by Lobnitz, the famous “sludge boat” Shieldhall”, is still based at Southampton.

Mid-September saw the arrival of the sophisticated, well-maintained Gardline survey ship Ocean Reliance of Panama registry but owned in UK. My first sight of a Gardline vessel was at Great Yarmouth in February, 1972 as a member of a fact-finding mission to learn about the North Sea offshore oil and gas business.

Over the years the company has grown and now part of a holding group comprising of 35 companies, but still based in the East Anglian port. First established in 1969 it has owned and operated a wide selection of vessels from former lighthouse tenders, research types to this recent arrival formerly a ro-ro ferry providing services in the Caribbean region. One in particular, Sea Profiler was previously RRS Shackleton whose captain once informed me she had been chased by an Argentinian destroyer in 1976 in the South Atlantic. Others included the Granuaile, built as a tender for the Commissioners of Irish Lights,

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