Friday, 19 May 2017 11:34

459 Tidespring1

The latest vessel to join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the civilian arm of the UK’s Royal Navy, is the fleet replenishment vessel RFA Tidespring, designated A136. After a ten-month construction delay, the UK Ministry of Defence accepted this, the first of four Tide-class tankers, from the South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) on January 12, 2017. Several technical issues, including wiring and electrical design, were said to have resulted in the delay to acceptance of the vessel. These vessels are intended to provide fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy and allied vessels around the globe. Norway has ordered a slightly larger design at the same yard with a 48 bed hospital and greater solid stores capacity while Australia is to build a series of similar vessels, also at DSME.

Built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Okpo, South Korea
Owned and operated by the UK Government (Royal Fleet Auxiliary)
Keel laid June 2014
LOA 200.9m
Beam 28.6m
GRT 29,324 tons
DWT 21,750 MT
Speed: maximum 28.6 knots, cruising 17.6 knots
Range: 18,200 nautical miles
Flight deck & hanger capacity for mid-range Merlin class helicopter but strengthened for Chinook class
Crew 63 plus provision to embark up to 46 flight and combat personnel
Sister ships under construction: RFA Tiderace, RFA Tidesurge, RFA Tideforce
Cost GBP 452 million for four vessels

459 Tidespring2 459 Tidespring3 459 Tidespring4


The order for the new vessels was originally placed with DSME in February 2012 at a cost of £452 million, of which £150m would be spent on final fitting out in the UK. The construction of naval supply ships in South Korea generated controversy in the UK, but no British naval yards had tendered for the order as they were fully occupied with the construction of modules related to the new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.  The picture below left shows tank testing of replenishment operations using models of the new aircraft carriers with the new Tidespring class replenishment vessels.

459 Tidespring5 459 Tidespring6 459 Tidespring7


The last vessel to carry the Tidespring name (picture above right) served the Royal Fleet Auxiliary for 30 years from 1962 until 1992 and saw action in the UK’s Aden Withdrawal (1967-68), also Monrovia (1990). Most notably however, in 1982, she found herself assigned to the naval task force sent to the South Atlantic to liberate the Falkland Islands following the surprise Argentine invasion of that year. Those actions helped the Tidespring name to earn its first battle honour. The board carrying the honour, along with the original ship’s badge, were kept safe when the original Tidespring was paid off in the early 1990s and were shipped to South Korea to enjoy pride of place on the new ship.

Canada is also to build new fleet supply vessels known as the Queenston Class. The vessels will be constructed at the Seaspan Marine North Vancouver Shipyard under the National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy. It was announced in 2013 that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Berlin Class replenishment ship (picture above right) would be the basis for the design of the new vessels. The first of class, HMCS Queenston, is scheduled for an early 2021 delivery, and is expected to be operational later that year. HMCS Châteauguay is expected to follow in 2022.

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

Friday, 12 May 2017 11:19

458 KaiwoMaru

There was only one contender for Ship of the Week this week – the magnificent Japanese four-masted tall ship Kaiwo Maru which, after a short visit to Burrard Inlet, spent last weekend at Garry Point Park in Steveston. Kaiwo Maru was built to replace a 1930’s built sailing training ship of the same name which translates directly to “King of the Sea”. The vessel made her voyage across the Pacific to participate in Richmond’s Ships to Shore King of the Sea Festival and to mark Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

Built by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Uraga Shipyard, Yokohama
Laid down in July 1988 and completed in September 1989
Operated by the Japan National institute for Sea Training
LOA 110.1m
Beam 13.8m
Height of main mast 43.5m
GRT 2,556 tons
Propulsion 2 x diesel engines, total HP 3,000, giving 13 knots
Complement 199 

458 KaiwoMaru2 458 KaiwoMaru3 458 KaiwoMaru4

In 2004, Kaiwo Maru was heavily damaged while sheltering from a typhoon outside the port of Fushiki in the Bay of
Toyama, Japan. She dragged anchor and grounded on a breakwater, sustaining severe damage.  Her crew of young cadets were evacuated by bravely climbing along ropes stretched between the vessel and the breakwater. Many were injured but miraculously none were lost. The vessel itself was salvaged and returned to her builders for extensive repairs.

Kaiwo Maru
regularly participates in international tall ship festivals and In 2010, visited San Francisco to commemorate the 1860 voyage of the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship to officially visit the United States. Onboard was a significant passenger, a retired businessman descended from one of the original Kanrin Maru crew members. Then in March 2011, Kaiwo Maru was on a voyage from Japan to Honolulu when the famous tsunami of that year hit the coast of Fukushima, Japan, sparking a nuclear emergency. She was diverted to Fukushima where she served as accommodation for workers tackling the crisis. 

458 KaiwoMaru5

Not to be completely out-done, the North Shore last weekend hosted the 1968 built A.R.C. Gloria, the flagship of the Colombian Navy at Burrard Dock just east of Lonsdale Quay. She is one of four similar barques built as sail training vessels for Latin American navies. Her half-sisters are the Mexican sail training vessel Cuauhtémoc, Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar and the Ecuador’s Guayas. While much smaller that Kaiwo Maru, A.R.C. Gloria nevertheless proved to be a big attraction on a rare sunny weekend.

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

Friday, 05 May 2017 11:23

457 Erradale1

A recent Vancouver caller was the versatile vessel Erradale operated by Swire bulk, a subsidiary of China Navigation Compay whose history goes back to the early colonial days of Hong Kong. Erradale is formally described as as a BD39 logger of which the company operates, or has on order, 20 such vessels. The design is intended to be flexible for bulk cargoes, steel products, project cargoes, logs and lumber.

Built by Chengxhi Shipyard, Jiangyin, PRC and delivered in 2014
Owned and operated by China Navigation, Singapore
LOA 179.9m
Beam 30m
GRT 24,785 tons
DWT 39,757 MT
5 double skinned holds/hatches
Deck cranes 4 x 36 MT SWL (72 MT in tandem)
Main engine Wartsila 5RT-flex50-B Tier 2, MAX MCR 6,050kW

457 Erradale2 457 Erradale3 457 Erradale4

The Swire Group traces its history back to 1816 when Mr. John Swire (1793–1847) formed a small import-export company in Liverpool based mainly on the textile trade. Mr. Swire’s sons expanded the business overseas and it was under John Samuel Swire that the seeds were sown for the creation of a multi-national company to be reckoned with. In 1861, John Swire & Sons opened trade links with China and in 1866 the famous trading name Butterfield & Swire was established in Shanghai. Things went well until the declaration of the People's Republic of China when Butterfield & Swire was forced to cease activities in China and transferred its business to Hong Kong.

The China Navigation Company itself had been established in 1872 to operate paddle steamers on the Yangtze River but has grown to be the holding company for the group’s entire shipping and agency businesses. Although now headquartered in the UK, the company remains heavily committed to the Asia Pacific region. Mr. Barnaby Swire serves as Chairman and Mr. Merlin Swire as Chief Executive. To the general public the Swire Group is perhaps best known as the 45% owner of Cathy Pacific Airways whose origins date back to 1946 and whose business base remains in Hong Kong.

One other sideline. Swire Oilfield Services was established in 1979 and is one of the world's largest suppliers to the global energy industry including being a leading supplier of modular systems and offshore aviation services.

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

Friday, 28 April 2017 13:22

456 sojourn1

                        Seabourn Sojourn entering Valetta Harbour, Malta

For many of us, the first hints of summer are synonymous with the arrival of an armada of some of the world’s leading cruise ships. This year is no exception with the arrival of Holland America’s Zaandam on Wednesday this week, followed by Eurodam today (Friday) and Oosterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Carnival Legend and Noordam over the weekend. Thursday June 1 will also see the arrival of the Seabourn Sojourn for her maiden Alaska season based out of Vancouver.  

Delivered in 2010 by Mariotti Shipyard, Genoa, Italy
Owned and operated by Seabourn Cruise Line, Seattle, Wa.
LOA 198.0m
Beam 25.6m
GRT 32,346 tons
Speed 21.6 knots (cruising)
Capacity: 450 guests
Crew: 335
Sister ships: Seabourn Odyssey & Seabourn Quest

456 sojourn2 456 sojourn3

Seabourn Sojourn is advertised as being among the most luxurious cruising vessels in the world. Despite her modest size, she has a large two-deck spa facility of over 11,000 square feet, two outdoor swimming pools and six outdoor whirlpool spas. The four restaurants and six bars and cafes have seating capacity for over 800 diners, though the vessel carries just 450 guests. Alaska itineraries are a mix of 11 and 14 days one way cruises from Vancouver to and from Seward Alaska providing time to explore some of the less frequented nooks and crannies of the BC and Alaskan coast lines including six calls to the Port of Prince Rupert.

456 sojourn4 456 sojourn5 456 sojourn6

Seabourn Cruise Line was originally founded in 1987 by a consortium of Norwegian investors headed by Mr. Atle Brynestad under the name Signet Cruise Lines but adopted the name Seabourn Cruise Line after objections over a trademark ownership. Seabourn Pride entered service in 1988, followed by an identical sister, Seabourn Spirit in 1989. Carnival Corporation purchased an initial 25% stake in Seabourn in 1991, increasing this to 50% in 1996 at a time when the company was developing a reputation for unrivalled service quality.

In 1998, in partnership with a consortium of new Norwegian investors, Carnival purchased the remaining 50% stake in Seabourn, as well as acquiring Cunard Line from Kvaerner ASA, and merged the two brands into Cunard Line until in 2001 Carnival bought out the Norwegian shareholders, and Seabourn's parent company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. In 2011 Seabourn transferred its base of operations from Miami to the Holland America headquarters in Seattle. The highly acclaimed Seabourn Encore (above right) at 40,350 GRT joined the fleet in December 2016.

The global cruise industry has grown from 19.1 million passengers carried in 2010 to 22.9 million in 2016 and is forecast to reach 25.3 million in 2019. To meet this growth, there are currently 157 significant cruise ships on order stretching to delivery as far ahead as 2026. About 60% of business originates in North America, 25% in Europe and the balance spread over other markets. Cruises to Alaska represents 4.5-5% of the global market.

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

Thursday, 20 April 2017 22:17

455 Seaspan1


Although we covered the new trailer ferry Seaspan Swift as our Ship of the Week on her initial arrival in BC in December 2016, Sunday April 9 was a unique event for British Columbia when Seaspan Ferries hosted the dual formal naming of Seaspan Swift and sister vessel Seaspan Reliant. The event was hosted by Seaspan Ferries President Mr. Steve Roth and attended by BC Premier Christy Clark (sponsor of Seaspan Swift) and Ms. Anisa White representing Plains Cree-Metis First Nation (sponsor of Seaspan Reliant). On a rare sunny afternoon, welcome speeches were also given by retiring Seaspan CEO Mr. Jonathan Whitworth and the incoming CEO Mr. Frank Butzelaar before the traditional breaking of champagne bottles on each vessel.  Mr. Kyle Washington and Jonathan Whitworth accompanied the Premier to do the honours on Seaspan Swift.

Built by SEDEF Shipbuilding Inc. Turkey
Designed by Vard Marine Inc.
Owned and operated by Seaspan Ferries Corporation
LOA 148.9m
Beam 26.0m
GRT 4,762 MT
Capacity 59 x 53’ trailers over 1042 lane meters
Main engine 2 x dual fuel Wartsila 9L34DF generating 4,400 Kw
Thrusters 2 x Schottel SCD 2020
Bow thrusters 2 x 550 Kw
LNG capacity 200 cbm
Diesel capacity 162 cbm
Battery capacity 546 kWh
Class Bureau Veritas

455 Seaspan2 455 Seaspan3 455 Seaspan4


Responsible for some 50% of all cargo movement to and from Vancouver Island, Seaspan Ferries offers a daily truck and trailer service from the company’s dedicated dock in Tilbury, Delta to and from Nanaimo, Duke Point and Swartz Bay. Seaspan Swift and Seaspan Reliant, mark the first vessels added to the company’s fleet since 2002. Following the formal ceremonies, Seaspan Reliant was open for guests to view both above and below deck. There was no mistaking how proud the crews are of their new vessels. Representatives of the Turkish shipbuilders and designers Vard were also on hand to respond to questions.

455 Seaspan5 455 Seaspan6 455 Seaspan7


The decision of the company to invest duel fuel LNG and diesel in partnership with Fortis BC is very significant for the future of short sea shipping here on the west coast. Compared to existing vessels, the new tonnage is estimated to represent a reduction of 53.6% in GHG emissions, 62.3% in CO2 emissions and 74.4% reduction in particulate matter emissions compared to the existing vessels. The 200cbm LNG storage tank situated below deck is shown above left. The cake looked so good before it was consumed, I just had to share a picture with you. As a bonus, each guest was also treated to a Lego certified model kit – great for kids of all ages.

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

Friday, 07 April 2017 13:31

454 dockwise1

Two casualties spread almost three years apart have dominated the maritime news in the past week. The loss of the 24 year old Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) Stellar Daisy (picture below right) in the South Atlantic about 2,300 nautical miles off the coast of Paraguay while carrying 260,000 tons of iron ore from Brazil to China was a sharp reminder of the fragility of life for unsuspecting seafarers. Of a crew of 24, only two Filipinos survived having been rescued from a liferaft. Initial reports indicate that the ship broke in two which of course raises many questions.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the wreck of the 140m South Korean ferry Sewol was raised and manoeuvred onboard the semi-subersible heavy lift vessel Dockwise White Marlin. The perfectly managed operation was executed by a Chinese salvage consortium which raised the Sewol between a pair of barges fitted with winches and lifting beams that were secured beneath the wreck to provide lift. Once the wreckage was sufficiently raised, the submerged Dockwise White Marlin was able to maneuver into position between the barges thereby enabling the wreck to be landed intact. The wreckage was then secured and drained in preparation for the short voyage to the port of Mokpo.

Dockwise White Marlin
Built by Guangzhou International Shipyard, PRC
Owned and operated by Dockwise Shipping, Breda, The Netherlands (a subsidiary of the Boskalis Group)
LOA 217m
Beam 63m
GRT 51,065 tons
DWT 62,500 MT

454 dockwise2 454 dockwise3 454 dockwise4

The Sewol capsized on April 16, 2014 off the coast Jindo Island during a routine voyage, killing 304 people, most of them students on a school trip. She is now being carefully searched for the remains for nine students who are still unaccounted for.  Investigations concluded the disaster was the cumulative result of an illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay, an inexperienced crew and a questionable relationship between the ship operators and state regulators. Even though the vessel took around three hours to sink, many of those on board never heard an evacuation order and appeared to have been left to save themselves. South Korean maritime safety regulators were heavily criticized for the series of events leading to the loss of Sewol and for the conduct of the rescue operation, all of which resulted in a complete reorganization of the South Korean Coast Guard.  The Sewol’s Master, Captain Lee Jun-Seok was sentenced to life in prison for "murder through wilful negligence" and 14 other crew members were given terms ranging from two to 12 years.

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

Friday, 31 March 2017 09:48

453 Alpena1


We are winding the clock back this week to take a look at a veteran Laker. SS Alpena was built in 1942 for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company and remains in service on the Great Lakes today. She is employed in moving cement from the Lafarge Corporation plant in Alpena, Michigan to a number of Great Lakes’ ports, including Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago, Muskegon, Detroit, St. Joseph, Cleveland, and Buffalo. She makes makes about 100 trips a year, arriving in Duluth-Superior about once a month.


Built by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, MI, USA
Owned and managed by Inland Lakes Management, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
LOA 158.5m
Beam 20.4m
GRT 8018 tons
DWT 19,414 MT
Propulsion: 4,000 HP steam turbine
Speed 13 knots
Home port Cleveland, Ohio
Former Name: Leon Fraser until 1991

453 Alpena2 453 Alpena3 453 Alpena4

As the Leon Fraser, Alpena was laid up in Lorain, Ohio, in 1982, and remained there until 1989. She was sold to Inland Lakes Management in 1990 and re-named Alpena in 1991 before being shortened by 36m at the Fraser Shipyard in Superior as part of a full converion into a bulk cement carrier. In service she carries around 13,50 tons of cement in her 7 holds. In December 2015, a major fire in the aft end of this vessel caused by aging wiring, while in drydock at Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wis., could have seen this classic Laker emerging as razor blades but despite her advanced age, the decision was made to repair her and return her to service. You have to wonder if this will be extended to the installation of an expensive ballast water treatment system when the Ballast Water Management Convention comes into force in September 2017, albeit with some wriggle room given the uncertainties created by the delay in the U.S. issuing type approvals to treatment systems.

The vessel’s namesake, Mr. Leon Fraser, was born in Boston in 1889 and was admitted to the New York Bar Association in 1914. After holding a number of distinguished positions in the business world he retired in 1937 as Vice President of the First National Bank of New York. Mr. Fraser was a director of United States Steel (Pittsburgh Steamship's parent company) when the vessel was initially christened in his honor at the peak of World War II.

Incorporated in 1871, the City of Alpena overlooks Lake Huron's Thunder Bay. The city’s wood, cement, and heavy machinery industries stemmed from a long industrial heritage that started with logging in the 1800s.

See the video of Alpena in service:

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017 09:47

452 Seajacks Scylla1


Having been delivered in 2015, Seajacks Scylla is considered to be the world’s largest and most advanced Offshore Wind Farm Installation Vessel. The vessel is purpose designed and constructed to meet the environmental rigors associated with working the UK and North West European markets. Operating at depths of up to 65m and with an open deck space of 4,600m2, Seajacks Scylla  is ideally suited to servicing the ever expanding market for off-shore wind farm installation.

Built by Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoge City, South Korea
Owned and operated by Seajacks UK Ltd., Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK
LOA 139m
Beam 50m
GRT 12,000 tons
DWT 5,000 MT
Propulsion: 3 x 3000kW stern azipod units
Thrusters: 3 x 3000kW (retractable)
Jack-up legs, length 105m
Speed 12 knots
Accommodation for 130 crew and turbine installation specialists

452 Seajacks Scylla2452 Seajacks Scylla3

Seajacks Scylla is uniquely equipped with a 1,540 MT leg-encircling crane capable of meeting the installation needs of jumbo-monopiles, jackets, and turbines of future wind farms in deeper waters further from shore.

She recently visited the Port of Rotterdam for a mooring system upgrade following her first successful assignment on Phase 1 of the Veja Mate Offshore Wind Farm Project which included the installation of 67 foundation monopiles off the coast of Germany, each weighing approximately 1,300 MT.

452 Seajacks Scylla4

The vessel left Rotterdam for Esbjerg in Norway where she was mobilized for Phase 2 of the Veja Mate Offshore Wind Farm project (location shown in the above map) which includes the turbine installation of 67 Siemens SWT-6.0-154 wind turbines. Each turbine has a capacity of 6MW and a rotor diameter of 154m, to produce enough electricity for 400.000 German homes each year.

Based in Great Yarmouth (UK), Seajacks was acquired in 2012 by Marubeni Corporation and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), a government-sponsored private equity corporation.


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


Thursday, 16 March 2017 17:10

451 Goddard1


Based at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in North Saanich on Vancouver Island, the Hero Class Mid-Shore Patrol Vessel CCGS M. Charles M.B. was delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard in June 2014. Along with her sister vessel CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M she arrived at her new base of operations in February 2015 after sailing for 39 days, covering a distance of just over 7,000 nautical miles from Halifax, Nova Scotia via the Panama Canal.


These vessels are designed to conduct Maritime Security missions on the Great Lake and St. Lawrence Seaway in addition to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. Under the "Mid-Shore" designation, they are approved to operate up to 120 nautical miles offshore.

Built by Irving Shipbuilding Inc, Halifax NS
Parent Design Damen Stan Patrol 4207
LOA 43.0m
Beam 7.0m
Displacement 257 MT
Power 4,992 kW with 2 x controllable pitch propellers
Speed: Maximum 25 knots, cruising 14 knots
Range 2,000 nautical miles
Crew up to 14
Design and construction cost for nine vessels $198 million


451 Goddard2 451 Goddard3 451 Goddard4


With their steel hulls and aluminium superstructure, the fleet of nine Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels are deployed in support of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Compliance and Enforcement programs with responsibility to:

  • Conduct surveillance of fisheries operations to ensure all regulations and guidelines are being respected
  • Seize, recover, store and transport illegal fishing gear
  • Monitor and patrol the oceans (coastlines and international boundaries) and provide a Canadian presence
  • Discourage smuggling and fish poaching

The nine sister vessels built under the program are named as follows:

  • CCGS Private Robertson V.C., after the late Private James Peter Robertson, V.C. (DND)
  • CCGS Corporal Kaeble V.C., after the late Corporal Joseph Kaeble, V.C. (DND)
  • CCGS Corporal Teather C.V., after Corporal Gordon Robert Teather, C.V (RCMP)
  • CCGS Constable Carrière, after Constable J.L. François Carrière (RCMP)
  • CCGS G. Peddle S.C., after Canadian Coast Guard Chief Officer Gregory Paul Peddle, S.C (CCG)
  • CCGS Corporal McLaren M.M.V., after Corporal Mark Robert McLaren, M.M.V. (DND)
  • CCGS A. LeBlanc, after Fishery Officer Agapit LeBlanc (DFO)
  • CCGS M. Charles M.B., after Seaman Martin Charles, S.C., M.B. (CCG)
  • CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M., after Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, M.S.M. (DND)

Of the two west coast positioned vessels, Seaman Martin Charles was a Hereditary Chief of the Nitinat Band in Bamfield BC. He earned the Medal of Bravery for his role in 1976 in a search and rescue incident that began with a sunken fishing vessel and ended with the loss of a helicopter assisting in rescue efforts. Captain Goddard M.S.M. is named for Captain Nichola Goddard who was awarded the Meritous Service Medal for her service in Afghanistan from January 2006, until her death in combat in May 2006.


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


Friday, 10 March 2017 10:25

450 YuanWang5 1


One of the enjoyable aspects of cruising for former seafarers is the opportunity to see sectors of shipping that we would normally not see here at home. One such occurrence for us was a port call in Auckland, New Zealand, in October last year where we found the sophisticated Chinese research / survey vessel Yuan Wang 5. She and China’s fleet of six similar vessels form the backbone of the country’s world-wide space tracking and intelligence gathering capability.


Built by China State Shipbuilding Corporation, Shanghai, PRC
Operated by the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)
Commissioned in 2007
LOA     190m (approx)
GRT      22,686 tons
Speed  20 knots (approx.)
Crew     470
Registered in Shanghai

450 YuanWang5 2 450 YuanWang5 3 450 YuanWang5 4


The Yuan Wang (translates to “Long View” in Mandarin) class of ships are used for tracking and support of space flights, satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The first Yuan Wang class of vessel is believed to have been proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1965, eventually being approved by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1968 with Yuan Wang 1 and Yuan Wang 2 entering service in 1977 and 1978 respectively. The latest in the series, Yuan Wang-7, was launched in July 2016. I took the pictures above left and centre while entering the picturesque Port of Auckland on Celebrity Solstice.


The presence of Yuan Wang 5 in Auckland attracted a good deal of local attention and no small amount of criticism with many locals objecting to a vessel with such high level military capabilities enjoying New Zealand hospitality. It was only in November 2016 that US warships returned to New Zealand after an impasse of 30 years following the decision of the country’s parliament in 1985 to ban warships carrying, or capable of carrying, nuclear weapons. This led to New Zealand being suspended in 1986 from the ANZUS collective security agreement first signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States in 1951. Throughout this period, the United States stuck rigidly to its policy of "neither confirming nor denying" if a ship was nuclear armed or powered which kept American naval vessels out of New Zealand’s ports. There now appears to be a loose “don’t ask, don’t tell” form of compromise since New Zealand still formally requires US ships to declare their nuclear status, and the United States continues to refuse to do so.


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