Friday, 23 February 2018 12:04

498 star endeavour1


Seen here departing Portsmouth in the UK is the multipurpose container/breakbulk reefer ship Star Endeavour 1 owned by Siem Shipping. Portsmouth has evolved into one of the UK’s largest fruit-handling ports, with fruit imports from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Morocco, South Africa, New Zealand and the eastern Mediterranean. The port claims to handle about 70% of the bananas eaten in the UK.

Built by Shikoku Dockyard, Takamatsu, Japan
Owned by Grace Ocean, Singapore
Operated by Philsynergy Maritime, Manila, Philippines
Delivered in 2010
LOA 163m
Beam 26m
GRT 14,022 tons
DWT 12,967 MT
Class NK
Flag Singapore


498 star endeavour2 496 RV Investigator3

The history of STAR Reefers dates back to the mid 1990’s when Blue Star Line, owned by the Vestey family, was sold to P&O Nedlloyd. The Vestey family’s Albion Reefers subsidiary went on to merge with Hamburg Sud to form Star Reefers however, a reefer market collapse in 2000/01 resulted in the Anglo-Norwegian financial group Siem Industries Inc. stepping in to save the company with a restructured business strategy. The name of the listed parent company was changed from STAR Reefers Inc. to Siem Shipping Inc. in 2012 in recognition of Siem’s broader shipping interests including Siem Car Carriers and Siem Offshore. The company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and continues to operate in the reefer industry as STAR Reefers with a current fleet of 28 vessels ranging in size from 370,000 to 616,000 cubic feet.

498 star endeavour4 498 star endeavour5


Del Monte Foods is a major California based food production and distribution company with approximately $1.8 billion of annual sales. The company’s history goes back to the late 1800’s when California first came to prominence as a major producer of fruit and vegetables. In 2014, the company was acquired by the Philippines based food and beverage company Del Monte Pacific Limited in an acquisition deal of US$1.67 billion.

The seaborne transportation of fresh produce in both conventional reefer ships and refrigerated container is estimated to be around 109 million tons per annum translating to some 16,900 laden conventional reefer ships of 500,000 cubic feet average, or 3.65 million laden 40’ high cube reefer containers. Overall, fresh produce accounts for 4.3% of world seaborne trade with Seatrade being the No.1 reefer ship operator having around 56x 527,500 cubic feet average capacity ships. At the end of 2017, the conventional reefer fleet was about 400 vessels with an average age of 25 years. There were just 17 dedicated reefer container vessels on order.


Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd. 

Friday, 16 February 2018 10:04

497 Ireland1


M.V. Ireland is a dedicated cement carrier built for the joint venture JT cement, in which Erik Thun AB cooperates with KG Jebsen Cement of Bergen, Norway. The vessel and her sister M.V. Greenland are among the first ever dry cargo vessels with an LNG fuelled propulsion system which includes a unique design incorporating a pressurised LNG tank positioned in the fore-part of the vessel.

Built by Ferus Smit Shipyard, Westerbroek, The Netherlands
Owned KGJ Cement
Operated by MF Shipping Group
Delivered in 2016
LOA 109.7m
Beam 15m
GRT 4284 tons
DWT 7300 MT
Main engine Wartsila
Flag Norwegian International Register

497 Ireland2  497 Ireland3


KGJ Cement owns and operates a large fleet of pneumatic cement carriers, and is the largest independent cement carrier owner in the world. A spectacular video of the vessel’s launch can be found at

As with most dedicated cement carriers, discharging is undertaken pneumatically via one or two hoses between the vessel and reception facilities. The cargo is pumped out by compressed air which is supplied by the vessel’s integrated cargo handling equipment. Conversely, loading can be performed either pneumatically or by gravity with dust emissions being eliminated by on board dust collectors. In addition to cement, the vessel can carry commodities such as fly ash, slag powder and other similar products.

497 Ireland4

The picture above right shows an LNG bunkering operation from truck on the River Elbe in Brunsbuttel, Germany.


Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd. 

Friday, 09 February 2018 10:35

496 RV Investigator1


RV Investigator is an Australian marine research vessel which was designed by RALion (a joint venture between Robert Allan Ltd. and Alion Science and Technology). She was constructed in Singapore and is owned and managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), through Australia's Marine National Facility with its operations funded by the Australian Government to undertake oceanographic, geoscience, ecosystem and fisheries research.

Built by Sambewang Shipyard, Singapore
Owned by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
Operated by ASP Ship Management Pty. Ltd.  
Delivered in 2014
LOA 93.9m
Beam 18.5m
GRT 6082 tons
DWT 1537 MT
Propulsion: Diesel-Electric, 2 x fixed pitch propellers | Propulsion Motors: 2 x L3 AC reversible propulsion motors rated at 2600 kW minimum each
Rudders: 2 x independently vectoring Becker high lift | Steering Gear: 2 x rotary vane units 
Dynamic Positioning: Kongsberg K-Pos - DP1 (AM) which allows the vessel to hold station within defined limits
Cruising speed 12 knots 
Drop Keels: 2 x drop keels with instrumentation mounting extendable to 4m below the keel
Accommodation for up to 40 research staff and 20 crew
Classification Lloyds +100A1, +LMC Research Vessel, DP (AM) UMS, ICE 1C, IWS, SPS Code  & DNV Silent-R
Home port: Hobart, State of Tasmania

496 RV Investigator2 496 RV Investigator3 496 RV Investigator4


The history of Investigator goes back to 2009 when the Australian Government allocated A$120 million for a new ocean-going research vessel to replace the 1972 built RV Southern Surveyor. She is able to accommodate up to 40 scientists, for up to 60 days at sea at a time. Special features of the ship are a "gondola", similar to a winged keel, mounted 1.2 m below the hull, and two drop keels which can be lowered to a maximum of 4m below the hull to carry scientific instruments below the layer of microbubbles created by the movement of the ship’s hull through the water. Such instrumentation includes acoustic mappers and a pelagic sediment profiler to produce maps of the sea floor. The hull and the machinery of the ship have been designed to operate as quietly as possible to enhance its scientific capabilities. The vessel is able to map the ocean floor to any depth, search for resources, better understand fisheries, collect weather data 20km into the atmosphere and much more.

496 RV Investigator5


The history of the vessel’s management company goes back to 1991 when Australian National Line and Associated Steamships formed a joint venture, which saw the beginnings of ASP Ship Management. Today, the company is a globally engaged Ship Manager and Maritime Service Solutions provider with offices in Europe, the Indian Sub-Continent, Asia and Australasia. 

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown of West Pacific Marine

Friday, 02 February 2018 10:14

494 Willem1

In late August 2017, the world’s largest self propelled Cutter Suction Dredger Willem van Rubroeck was launched at the Uljanik Shipyard in Croatia. The concept of a Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) is that of a vessel which is equipped with a rotating head for cutting and fragmenting hard soils. The soil is sucked up by means of dredge pumps before being discharged through a floating pipeline and piped to shore. Alternatively, the dredge material  may be discharged into split hopper barges that are moored alongside during operations. In contrast to a traditional dredger, a CSD is moored and stationary while dredging. See an excellent video of the launch at

Built by Uljanik Shipyard, Croatia
Owned and managed by the Jan De Nul Group
Launched in August 2017, to be delivered Q1 2018
LOA 151.3m
Beam 36m
Loaded draft 5.75m
Installed power 40,975 kw
Dredging power 25,500 kw spread over 3 pumps
Cutter power 8,500 kw
Dredge depth up to 45m
Speed 12 knots
Standard crew compliment 67

495 Willem2 495 Willem3

The picture above left shows the vessel during launch, immediately after clearing the slipway, while the picture above right is a concept picture of the completed vessel in operation. The company’s history goes back to 1938 when Jan Frans Jozef De Nul started his own civil engineering company. In 1951 the first international dredging project was secured and between 2009-2014 the Group was part of the consortium that built the new locks in the Panama Canal.

William of Rubruck (1220 – 1293) was a Flemish Franciscan missionary and explorer who travelled extensively to the Mongol empire and recorded his experiences. Born in Rubrouck, Flanders, he is variously known also as William of Rubruk, Willem van Ruysbroeck, Guillaume de Rubrouck or Willielmus de Rubruquis.

The traditional European expertise in dredging is not without challenge. In November this year, China’s latest CSD, Tian Kun Hao, was floated out from the dry dock of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. (ZPMC). With a total installed power of 25,843 kW and a cutter power of 6.600 kW, she is the largest and most powerful CSD ever built in China. There has been a major expansion of China’s dredging fleet over the past 15 years, not only to service expanding port infrastructure, but also the controversial policy of island building in the South China Sea. China’s “Maritime Silk Road” strategy, part of the broader “Belt and Road strategy”, is set to drive major Asian dredging demand in the form of port construction over the next 30 years.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Thursday, 25 January 2018 17:28

494 rpflip1 

Built in 1962, R/P Flip is a most unusual craft - her name being the acronym for “Floating Instrument Platform.”  Strictly speaking she is not a ship at all, but an oceanographic research platform designed by scientists at Scripps's Marine Physical and operated by Scripps Oceanography for the US Navy. When not in use she is generally decked in San Diego Bay before being towed out to sea in a horizontal (submarine type) position and then “flipped” 90 degrees so that about 120m of her length is below water creating something akin to a very stable spar buoy, resistant to wave motion. Her initial primary task was the study of sound propagation for submarine warfare, but with the development of new technologies she has evolved to support research in geophysics, meteorology and oceanography.

Built by Gunderson Brothers Engineering Corporation in Portland, Oregon in 1962
Owned and operated by Scripps Oceanography, San Diego, CA
Delivered in 1962
LOA 108m
Average beam 8.0m (diameter of the hull is 6.5 meters from the 91- to 49-meter depth, tapering to 4 meters at the 20-meter depth)
GRT 700 tons
Power supply 3 generators mounted on trunnions providing 340 kW to meet platform and scientific needs
Standard crew 5, research team 11
Endurance 35 days

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The process of “flipping” from a horizontal to a vertical position takes only about 30 minutes and, depending on the mission, the vessel is allowed to either float freely or be anchored to the ocean floor at depths of up to 5,000 metres. Because its design accommodates riders in both horizontal and vertical positions, FLIP’s interior spaces often appear misleading and even bizarre, with doors mounted on the floor, portholes in the ceiling, objects mounted on swiveling trunions, and sinks and toilets mounted for both configurations. On completion of a mission, compressed air is pumped into the ballast tanks to return to its horizontal position.

494 rpflip5

In 1903, members of the Scripps family and other community leaders established the Marine Biological Association of San Diego, building its first laboratory in La Jolla in 1905. The marine lab was subsequently renamed the Scripps Institution for Biological Research and became part of the University of California in 1912 and the the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1925 in recognition of the breadth of research underway at the institution. In 1960, the institution became a faculty of the University of California, San Diego and remains so.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Thursday, 18 January 2018 17:10

493 Green Iris1

Friday December 22 was yet another milestone in the move towards use of LNG as a mainstream fuel for vessel propulsion with the naming ceremony at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard of the LNG fueled bulk carrier Green Iris. The 50,000 MT DWT vessel, which is expected to enter service this month, has been built against a long term charter to South Korea’s major steel manufacturer POSCO for the movement of limestone. POSCO has also provided the vessel’s LNG fuel tank constructed of high manganese steel as an alternative material to more commonly used nickel alloy. The South Korean government also used the occasion to re-enforce that country’s commitment to development of an LNG bunkering infrastructure.

Built by Hyundai, Mipo Dockyard, Ulsan, South Korea
Owned and operated by Ilshin Shipping Co. Ltd.
Chartered by POSCO
DWT 50,000 MT (approx)
Main engine: MAN ME-GI

493 Green Iris2


The cryogenic high manganese steel used for the LNG storage tanks on Green Iris has been some 10 years in development and successfully complies with a new standard from ASTM International which develops and publishes technical standards for many materials, including metals and non-metals. To date, more than 30,000 experts from 140 countries have established more than 12,000 technical specifications to ASTM standards for use by engineers globally. As with nickel alloy, cryogenic high manganese steel is a product that can withstand very low temperatures of -196℃ and therefore provides a new option for the LNG industry. It is also said to offer more weldability and is up to 30% cheaper than nickel alloy steel, stainless steel and aluminum alloy steel, all of which materials it seems set to eventually replace.

At a government-sponsored meeting last month to promote LNG in shipping, the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced cooperation to examine the feasibility of building LNG fueled Capesize bulk carriers of around 180,000 tonnes DWT in the first half of 2018. Project partners will include POSCO and several shippers including Korea South East Power, Korea Gas Corp and Hanwha Chemical Co. Under the agreement, the partners will reduce or at least share the anticipated 20% premium on the cost of building such a vessel. Green Iris will be used as a prototype to “assess the direction of LNG-related shipbuilding and associated government policies.”

The development follows a pilot project launched in September investigating the shipbuilding, port and bunkering infrastructure required for such a vessel. That project involved the two ministries and another six companies: POSCO, Korea Gas Corporation, Korea Shipowners' Association, Korea Development Bank, LNG Bunkering Industry Association and the Shipbuilding Offshore Plant Research Institute. Lloyd’s Register and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) also signed a joint development project to design LNG fueled bulk carriers in June 2017.

493 Green Iris3  493 Green Iris4


It doesn’t stop there however as Woodside Energy, Anangel Shipping, General Electric, Lloyds Register and HHI signed a joint industry project agreement at GASTECH 2017 to develop a 250,000 DWT LNG fueled very large ore carrier (VLOC)  to operate on the Australia-Asia iron ore trade. A program of work has been agreed by the parties to address design, construction and operational aspects including LNG bunkering. “The aim is to create a new generation of cost-efficient, safe, reliable and environmentally optimized design for large ore carriers,” according to Lloyd’s Register.

Lloyds Register was earlier involved in the Green Sky project to build a tri-fueled Kamsarmax sized bulk carrier with COSCO Shipyard and Golden Union Shipping (concept picture above left). Similarly, Deltamarin’s B.Delta “Project Forward” design (above right) is being pursued by Arista Shipping of Greece in partnership with ABS, Wartsila, and GTT. The concept is based on a design suitable for ships between 82,000 and 210,000 dwt and would employ GTT’s membrane-type LNG tanks for fuel containment. The Wärtsilä 31DF dual-fuel engine would form the basis of the concept’s propulsion system.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Thursday, 11 January 2018 13:45

492 northernseawolf1

Following delivery from her previous Greek owners, Orveline Hellinic Shipping Co. in Piraeus in late August this year, the 17 year old freshly repainted ferry now renamed Northern Sea Wolf has made the 10,100 nautical mile passage to British Columbia via the Panama Canal. The name of the vessel was selected through a community engagement process involving First Nations, BC Ferry Advisory Committee members, BC Ferries employees and the Mid-Coast Ferry Working Group. Beginning in the summer of 2018, she will operate a new mid-coast ferry service with BC Ferries which will offer sailings between Port Hardy and Bella Coola five days per week during peak season which is, to say the least, something of a contrast to servicing some of the Greek Islands.

Built by Panagiotakis Bros, Ampelakia, Greece
Owned and operated by BC Ferries
Delivered in 2000
LOA 75m
Beam 15m
GRT 2679 tons
DWT 353 MT
Propulsion 2 x Cummins Diesels 2399kW
Capacity for 35 vehicles
Passengers and crew 150
Previous names: Agios Andreas II, Andreas II, Mr. Shoppy One, Aqua Spirit

492 northernseawolf2  492 northernseawolf3 492 northernseawolf4


The above pictures left and centre show Northern Sea Wolf alongside in picturesque Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta following drydocking. The voyage to BC was 35 days with bunker calls at the Canary Islands, Antigua, Panama and Manzanillo before the last leg into BC where she is undergoing a mid-life upgrade. BC Ferries has awarded two major contracts to Esquimalt Drydock, the first being a $2 million docking contract. The company will also award approximately $18 million further to Esquimalt Drydock and other local contractors and suppliers for interior and safety upgrades to shipboard systems, crew living and working spaces and a complete passenger accommodation and food services modernization. The picture above right shows her in transit through the Panama Canal on December 1.

492 northernseawolf5 492 northernseawolf6 492 northernseawolf7

The above is a small sample of the Northern Sea Wolf in her former lives. As Mr. Shoppy One (centre above) she operated cheap shopping trips between Southern Norway and Strömstad in Sweden. The picture above right shows her making a Mediterranean Mooring (stern first) in choppy seas.


Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd

Friday, 05 January 2018 11:19

491 Aquitaine1

Much in the news recently is Euronav following that company’s acquisition of Gener8 Maritime, the major U.S. based tanker operator. Headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium, Euronav was already the world’s largest independent quoted crude tanker company being listed on Euronext Brussels and on the NYSE. The company operates on both the spot and period markets with most VLCCs being operated in the Tankers International Pool.

Delivered in 2017, M.V. Aquitaine is very typical of the modern fleet of VLCCs operated by the company.
Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea
Owned and operated by Euronav, Belgium
Delivered in 2017
LOA 333.0m
Beam 60.0m
Summer draft 21.6m
GRT 154,139 tons
DWT 298,767 MT
Ballast water treatment system fitted.

491 Aquitaine2 491 Aquitaine3

Euronav fleet management is conducted by three wholly owned subsidiaries, namely Euronav Ship Management SAS and Euronav SAS, both headquartered in Nantes, France, also having a branch office in Antwerp. The third entity is Euronav Ship Management (Hellas) Ltd. with offices in Piraeus, Greece. The company’s fleet, which has an average age of just over 7 years, flies the Belgian, Greek, French, Marshall Islands and Panama flags.

On December 21 2017 it was simultaneously announced in Antwerp and New York, New York that the Boards of Euronav and Gener8 Maritime, Inc. had reached an agreement on a stock-for-stock merger for the entire issued and outstanding share capital of Gener8 pursuant to which Gener8 would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Euronav. The merger creates the world’s leading independent large crude tanker operator with 75 crude tankers, including 44 VLCCs and 28 Suezmax tankers, representing over 18 million DWT. Euronav commented that the deal would create a tanker group with “tangible economies of scale” and an estimated market capitalization of about $1.8 billion, the combined entity having balance sheet assets of over $4 billion.

At the time of the merger, Gener8 Maritime had a fleet of 30 wholly-owned vessels comprised of 21 VLCCs, 6 Suezmaxes, one Aframax, and two Panamax tanker, all with an average age of approximately 3.7 years. The company is incorporated under the laws of the Marshall Islands and headquartered in New York. The picture above right shows the VLCC GENER8 Constantine of 299, 011 MT DWT while bunkering in Singapore.

The tanker market is expected to remain relatively weak in the short term due to slow demand. Average daily rates for VLCCs have been hovering around $16,000 a day, which is below average breakeven levels of just over $21,000 a day. In addition to the OPEC supply side squeeze, the problem in 2017 has been the number of fleet additions, which in turn explains the need for consolidation in the tanker sector. On January 1, 2017, the number of VLCCs globally was 686 but by the end of June this number had grown to 713. A further 16 VLCCs were to be delivered in the second half of 2017, while only three are believed to have been scrapped. Thus a VLCC fleet growth in 2017 of approximately 6% which has allowed charterers to drive down the spot market.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine.


Thursday, 21 December 2017 11:21

490 zim antwerp1

Seen here approaching berth at the Port of Vancouver’s Deltaport Container Terminal in October 2016 is the 10,062 TEU capacity ZIM Antwerp. Opened in 1997 and located adjacent to the Westshore Coal Terminal, Deltaport is operated by Global Container Terminals under lease from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. At 210 acres, this is Canada’s largest container terminal and comprises 1,100m of quay and eight rail tracks totaling 28,000 feet. Super post-Panamax cranes, some of which are tandem lift, enable the handling of the largest ships currently in service between Asia and the West Coast of North America. 

Built by HyundaI Samho Heavy Industries, Samho, South Korea
Owned and operated by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Haifa, Israel
Delivered in 2009
LOA 349m
Beam 46m
GRT 114,044 tons
DWT 116,294 MT
Capacity 10,062 TEU

490 zim antwerp2 490 zim antwerp3 490 zim antwerp4

ZIM Antwerp made a small piece if history in June this year when she was the first Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) to pass under the newly raised Bayonne Bridge (picture above center) when calling at Maher terminals in the port of New York and New Jersey. A plaque was made to commemorate the event and presented to the vessel’s Master (above right). With the raising of the bridge to provide an air draft of 65.5m, vessels of up to 18,000 TEU can now access three of the four main terminals of the port of NY/NJ – Maher Terminals and APM Terminals in Elizabeth NJ and Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark. Previously, ships over 9,500 TEU could be handled only at the GCT Bayonne terminal. The project cost to raise the bridge was $1.6 billion which was seen as an essential investment if the port complex was to benefit from the expanded Panama Canal.

490 zim antwerp5 490 zim antwerp6 490 zim antwerp7

For its part, the history of Zim Line goes back to the birth of Israel in the late 1940s when the company played a significant role in support of the new nation. The company acquired its first ship in 1947, the early fleet being primarily established to carry cargoes and immigrants from Europe in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The picture above left is of the small coastal trader SS Theodor Herzl crammed with 2641 immigrants on arrival in Haifa after several attempts by the Royal Navy to stop her.

The company expanded rapidly during the 1950’s and 60’s. Above center is the 1959 built SS Jerusalem and above right is the 1964 built SS Shalom (meaning peace) which was purpose built to offer a dedicated Transatlantic service from Haifa to New York. On delivery, she was dedicated by Mrs Paula Ben Gurion, the wife of Israel’s first Prime Minister, Mr David Ben Gurion (1886-1973). SS Shalom went on to have several lives as SS Hanseatic, SS Doric, SS Royal Odyssey and finally SS Regent Sun.

By the time of the company’s 25th anniversary in 1970, the fleet comprised 77 owned ships and 70 chartered ships operating 19 major services hauling more than 4 million tons of cargo annually.
In common with many other traditional liner operators and with the company now largely in private hands, the 1970’s witnessed an aggressive expansion into container shipping.

The name “ZIM” was proposed by Israel’s first Minister of Transportation, Mr. David Remez. The name is based on a passage in the Bible in which the Hebrew word ZIM refers to “large vessels” and reflects the goals of the company, even in its earliest days, to build a large fleet.


Have a good Christmas all and thank you for the many comments to our 2017 Ships of the Week. Wishing everyone a prosperous 2018 and may freight rates continue to recover.  

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd



Friday, 15 December 2017 12:26

489 cheshire1


Owned and operated by one of the UK’s oldest family run shipping businesses. M.V. Cheshire is an unremarkable Supramax sized bulk carrier and was largely unheard of until she suffered an ammonium nitrate fertilizer cargo fire in August this year off the Canary Islands. At the time of the fire, she was on passage from Norway to Thailand when her cargo began to overheat. She continued to Las Palmas where she was scheduled to bunker but was denied access due the smouldering cargo. Crew members were evacuated by helicopter leaving salvage tugs to keep here offshore.


Built by Jinling Shipyard, Nanjing, PRC
Owned by Bibby Line, Liverpool, UK
Technical and operational managers V Ships, Singapore
Delivered in 2012
LOA 189.97m
Beam 32.26m
GRT 33042 tons
DWT 56,598 MT
Registered in Douglas, Isle of Man

489 cheshire2 489 cheshire3 489 cheshire4


With direct application of water ruled out due to the instability of the cargo, attending tugs were restricted to external water cooling. Heat transfer between cargo holds caused the fire to spread rapidly and high temperatures prevented salvors from boarding for two weeks until there was simply no ammonium nitrate left to burn. Only then were salvage crews from Resolve Marine, using four tugs directed from an operating base in Gibraltar, allowed to bring the vessel closer to the Canary Islands to enable direct access and support.

489 cheshire5 489 cheshire6 

More than a dozen other explosions involving ammonium nitrate have occurred over the past century. The deadliest occurred in 1947 when a series of explosions shook the waterfront petrochemical complex at Texas City, southeast of Houston. The French flagged Liberty ship Grandcamp carrying more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded leaving 576 recorded deaths and 5,000 injured – the worst industrial accident in US history.

Other disasters triggered by ammonium nitrate explosions include:

  • Roseburg, Ore. (1959): 14 killed
  • Kansas City, Mo. (1988): Six firefighters killed in a construction site explosion
  • Belgium (1942): 189 killed
  • France (1947) 29 killed
  • Toulouse, France (2001): 31 killed and more than 2,000 injured following an explosion at a hangar containing 300 tons of ammonium nitrate at a chemical and fertilizer plant
  • Romania (2004): 18 killed
  • North Korea (2004): 162 killed
  • Mexico (2007): 37 killed

489 cheshire7 489 cheshire8 


The pictures above taken in 2015 show a very similar incident to that of M.V. Cheshire but involving M.V. Purple Beach off the coast of Germany. Ammonium nitrate based fertilizer is described as a Group C cargo in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (ISMBC) Code. While subject to spontaneous combustion, ammonium nitrate is not, on its own, an explosive, but readily forms explosive mixtures with varying properties when combined with primary explosives.

489 cheshire9 489 cheshire10 489 cheshire11


Founded in 1807 by the first John Bibby (1775–1840), Bibby Line Limited is the ship owning division of Bibby Line Group Limited; a diverse family owned business with over 200 years’ experience in a range of industries from retail, offshore, finance, distribution and shipping. It is one of the longest established family owned companies in the UK. The company has given the name Cheshire to several vessels including the 1927 built armed merchant cruiser seen above left during WWII, the 1959 built general cargo vessel, above centre and the 1989 gas carrier, above right. Company vessels are traditionally named after English counties ending with “shire”.

Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd