MV Britannia (2015/141,000gt), the most anticipated newbuild since Cunard’s flagship more than ten years ago, has arrived at Southampton. The largest cruise ship ever built for the British market sailed into her homeport to a three-tug water salute as thousands of spectators looked on from vantage points all the way along Southampton Water. She will be officially named by The Queen on 10 March, ahead of her maiden voyage on 14 March.
The introduction of £500 million-build vessel has signalled a new-look for the P&O fleet. All are to receive a Union flag design on the bow and blue funnels featuring an illuminated rising sun motif, which depicts the Oriental part of the Peninsular and Oriental (P&O) name on the company’s Coat of Arms.
Britannia will cater for 3,600-passengers with 13 bars as well as 13 restaurants and cafés. Highlights on board the new ship include an impressive three-deck high atrium, a TV studio that doubles as a cinema, a dining and live entertainment venue, and a state-of-the-art cookery school.
The car carrier Hoegh Osaka (2000/51,770gt) has safely returned to the Port of Southampton 19 days after her infamous grounding on Bramble Bank. During the weeks that followed the stricken vessel survived high winds and the ingress of 3,000 tonnes of water which left her with a precarious 52 degree list.
With the ship listing at a more manageable five degrees, a fleet of tugs and escorts steadily manoeuvred her from a deep water anchorage in the Solent to one of the city’s cruise ship berths on 22 January. The journey, which normally takes around 90 minutes, took a more pedestrian four hours. Hoegh Autoliners has praised the efficiency and professionalism of all those involved in the incident.
Once declared safe attention will turn to the condition and removal of the cargo, which comprises around 1,200 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, 65 Minis and 105 pieces of JCB construction equipment.
A Chinese Navy Task group made up of three of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s most modern warships has completed a six-day call at Portsmouth. Heading the task group was the Type 071 amphibious assault ship Chang Bai Shan (2012/18,500 tonnes), accompanied by the Type 054A frigate Yun Cheng (2010/3,556 tonnes) and the replenishment tanker Chao Hu (2013/23,369 tonnes).
The ships were welcomed a day earlier than planned, to avoid high winds, by the Chinese Ambassador to the UK and hundreds of British-based Chinese nationals. The group has spent four months in the Gulf of Aden on counter-piracy patrol prior to heading to Europe for a series of goodwill visits. The rare formal visit to the home of the Royal Navy was the first by a PLAN warship since September 2007. Their next stop is Kiel, Germany.
A complex salvage operation is underway to recover a stranded Hoegh Autoliners car carrier from a sandbank in the Solent. MV Hoegh Osaka (2000/51,770gt) was deliberately beached on the notorious Bramble Bank by the Master and Pilot after developing a severe list during the turn out of Southampton Water. Their quick actions are said to have prevented the ship from capsizing and blocking the channel in and out of one the UK’s busiest ports.
The crew of 24 and the pilot were airlifted off the stricken ship by the Lee-on-Solent-based search and rescue helicopter. There were no serious casualties and no leaks have been reported. The Singapore-flagged vessel was en route to Germany with around 1400 cars and 80 construction vehicles. First light revealed the vessel lying on her starboard side at an angle of 52 degrees. Salvors hope to recover the vessel within days although it is more likely to take much longer.
The first of six ferries from the Brittany Ferries’ fleet set to receive exhaust filters has returned to service after a two-month refit. MV Normandie (1992/ 27,542gt) resumed sailings between Portsmouth and Caen on 2 January, with a new larger funnel, following work to fit ‘scrubbers’ at a Spanish shipyard. The bulky system reduces harmful sulphur emissions from heavy fuel oil and is required to meet new MARPOL regulations that came into effect on 1 January 2015.
The company had hoped to meet the latest prevention of pollution standards by converting three of its newer ships to run on cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG), however this was abandoned after they failed to get a temporary exemption from the new regulations while the work was carried out. The remainder of the owned fleet, with the exception of MV Bretagne (1989/24,534gt), will have work to install ‘scrubbers’, which cost between £7 million and £10 million per ship according to the following schedule; MV Cap Finistere (2001/32,728gt) – January 2015 to March 2015, MV Barfleur – March 2015 to May 2015, MV Mont St.Michel (2002/35,586gt) – November 2015 to December 2015, MV Armorique (2009/29,468gt) – January 2016 to March 2016, MV Pont-Aven (2004/40,859gt) – January 2016 to March 2016.