With Tenacious alongside in Barry Docks and Lord Nelson moored in Bristol, our teams have been working hard to keep checking that all is well. Here, Captain Simon updates on how he and the team have been doing just that.


In April I wrote about Tenacious returning to the UK. April seems rather a long time ago, so perhaps it’s time for a bit of an update.

Once the Voyage Crew had left the ship in Barry, we spent a week putting the ship into lay-up. This meant shutting down the majority of the equipment, emptying fridges and freezers, landing all the gash, connecting up shore power for an alarm system amongst other things, shutting all the hull valves, rigging mooring wires and ensuring all the mooring waps were well protected against chafe. In short, we were ensuring the ship would be safe sitting alongside in a nice, quiet bit of Barry, thanks to ABP South Wales.

We locked the ship up in mid-April and the Permanent Crew went off on furlough. I didn’t go too far – 40 minutes down the road in Newport, which meant that I could volunteer to visit the ship occasionally and check that all was well. The port’s security staff passed the ship on each set of rounds so Chief Engineer Shiny rigged up a flashing light outside the Charthouse so that they could see from the dockside if any alarm had activated. I only had to go in once for an alarm, but volunteered to go and check on her a few times! The office team also set up a video call with all Permanent Crew once a week to keep us informed of what’s going on, to discuss various matters – like when we might be getting back to work – and to check that we were all okay.

The team have continued to progress work for the upcoming 20 year Special Survey and the Docking and Maintenance periods. There’s been significant progress with jobs both large and small moving forward. One of the major jobs is to replace both Main Engines and Main Generators; the Bowsprit is coming out and the current “extra” wire Bobstay looped around the Bowsprit will be replaced with one in chain cable running to a new welded lug on the bowsprit. The rest of the Bowsprit’s chain cable will also be replaced as will all its wire standing rigging. The Foremast’s standing rigging will also be replaced in this maintenance. The anchors and cables will have to be ranged on the dock bottom and surveyed. Some will doubtless require replacement, but then we use our ground tackle much more than many other vessels so some new cable is lined up for us to fit. A large amount of pipework is being replaced; areas of deck covering inside the ship will be replaced, and all the Third, Second and Chief Mates and Darren and I will have to get up to speed with electronic charts as the ship will move to ECDIS as our main navigational system – though we’ll still keep some charts. Many of the jobs are being undertaken because the current systems are old and well-used, but also because these replacements will be a much more cost-effective solution going forward.

The current Covid-19 problems have had such a big impact on what everyone does that we’re all having to work out how we can operate whilst this is still a potential danger. Much work has been done by health authorities around the world and we are working on systems to use onboard to minimise the risk. This is being guided by information from the World Health Organisation and from national and international shipping organisations and by much consultation with our own JST Honorary Medical Officers. The most basic of precautions – thorough and frequent hand-washing – still very much applies, so we’ll be ensuring we have lots of soap in the heads, moving to disposable paper towels and adding lots of hand sanitising stations amongst many other measures.

The JST’s policy on how we live and work onboard a ship in a Covid-19 world will be in place – and in use onboard – before we begin maintenance so please, if you’re interested in helping us during the maintenance get in touch with Luke, our Technical Manager, at luke.galuszewski@jst.org.uk or find out more here.

Lord Nelson’s not been forgotten during this time. She’s still sat in her berth in Bristol – and indeed, was seen in the background on the News recently (something unrelated). Jon, our Operations Director has been up to check on her, as have Steve G (former Chief Engineer) and Chipps (2nd Engineer). Luke has been up several times to check on her current condition, the mooring arrangements and security. Andy Spark ran a small maintenance weekend onboard before lockdown, and had planned to do more, but Covid-19 intervened here as in so many other areas.

At present Lord Nelson remains safely alongside in Bristol thanks to Bristol City Council. After more than 30 years service, she was decommissioned in October last year. The JST continues to look at potential options for her future, but this is another area where Covid-19 intervened, with consequent delays.

It looks like the Permanent Crew will be going back to work at the beginning of September; I can’t wait and I know I’m not alone in that!

Captain Simon