Those days it seems the name of the game is playing “catch-up”, with a steadily increasing number of interesting ships calling at the port of Montrose. Although March month seems a long way back now there were some callers that are worth recording again, two in particular coming to mind, namely BBC Carolina and BBC Pacific.
At the South Quay, albeit for only a short space of time, over two tides to be exact, appeared a large vessel of the north German-based BBC Chartering fleet, BBC Carolina making her second appearance in the port in less than 15 months.
Another fairly quick turn-round was experienced by the Lumen which made two calls in two weeks and registered at St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda.
Other arrivals over the same period included Elke.K, Thopas, Wilson Monsoon, Pernille and Sarah.B making up a broad mix of ships and cargoes passing through the port before mentioning the wide range of ports involved.
Offshore oil and gas-related business was also buoyant with the movement of anchors, chain, moorings, etc. bringing welcome activity to the port. Such ships involved are engaged in anchor handling tug/supply operations, dive support and inspection, repair and maintenance, survey and also currently service offshore wind farm projects etc. In addition, there were “topping-up” visits from James Fisher coastal tankers for the bunker fuel tanks.
Regular callers included units from Maersk, Viking, Atlantic Towing, ACTA Marine and more irregular visitors such as Edda Sun, Normand Prosper and SAR Fame plus an expanding series of personnel tenders for the Seagreen wind farm development.
The next BBC Chartering freighter was not so fortunate as her earlier fleetmate, arriving off the port during a severe weather front which caused disruption due to a heavy sea running across the Annat Bank towards Scurdie Light.
The BBC Pacific could be seen intermittently through the haze and heavy rain squalls. She lay off the port until the swell moderated in order for a harbour pilot to board. The “lumpy” seas also kept three coasters stormbound in port.
Recently I touched on the Belgian port complex of Ghent which is reckoned to be the third largest in Belgium. Early mentions of it are claimed to have been from the 13th century if not before, when it was established beside the River Scheldt and over the ensuing centuries it has sought to find a direct link to the North Sea. Canals were dug and over the ensuing centuries work undertaken to improve a vital waterway to the sea.
Fast forward now to the period after World War Two, when an agreement was signed between Belgium and The Netherlands in 1960, and a new sea lock was constructed to allow ships of 80,000-ton deadweight to pass through to Ghent. New docks were added with work commencing in 1996 and completed three years later. Starting in 2015, a further scheme was due for completion in 2021.
The next arrival from this busy Belgian port was Rheintal, registered at Madeira and flying the flag of Portugal. Her name seemed familiar having been noted on a previous vessel seen in Montrose port around 1980 when she was berthed in the former Wet Dock. She was then claimed to be one of the earliest “up-and-downers” to be seen at Montrose. That Rheintal, built in 1978 at Papenburg, West Germany was typical of an increasing number of inland waterway barge-type coasters fitted with hydraulically-operated wheelhouses and folding masts which allowed them to penetrate into the heartland of Europe. The present 88-metre, 3689-ton deadweight vessel, built in 2007, could well be a replacement for the previous caller.
Caption: Rheintal at Montrose on the North Quay in the 1980s. (Photo by Kenneth M. Hay).