Southampton’s heritage steamship, SS Shieldhall, has returned from her annual dry dock in Falmouth looking pristine and ship-shape ahead of her first 2023 sailing on Friday 16 June.
Shieldhall’s new high tech, electric blue silicone coating (more environmentally friendly than traditional anti-foul) initially applied in 2022, was re-applied in certain areas in Falmouth.
The anti-foul has already proved its worth with less marine life attaching itself to the hull, meaning Shieldhall is moving significantly quicker through the water.
Chairman Martin Phipps was delighted with the work undertaken in Falmouth:
‘While we have had to incur some unexpected and significant additional costs the MCA inspection has confirmed that Shieldhall is in good condition and ready to welcome guests on board.
‘We have had new steel welded into a couple of areas and a number of surveys undertaken. Our volunteers are now looking forward to our trips along Southampton Water, into the Solent and further afield commencing in just six weeks time.
‘New for 2023 we have introduced some Friday evening sailings into our programme. We also have a sailing to mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush on Sat 24 June in conjunction with Black History Month South.
‘We hope there will be a good take-up on the sailings, which have been put together to offer a variety of trips and entertainments. With the additional costings of Dry Dock, it is vital that we sell as many tickets as possible for our cruises.
‘Shieldhall is listed as the ‘Number 1 thing to do in Southampton’ on Trip Advisor and we look forward to giving all our guests the ultimate steam experience.’
Shieldhall Chief Engineer Graham Mackenzie observed:
‘People often ask why we need to go to dry dock every year and why we travel to Falmouth, over 320 nautical miles away. Given that the ship is over 15 years old, MCA rules state that Shieldhall must have an annual out-of-the-water inspection. While there are dry docks in Portsmouth, these are currently not available to commercial shipping.
‘It costs us more than £17,000 in fuel alone for the return trip to Falmouth. This year our additional and unplanned work added a total of some £50,000 to the dry dock bill, which approached £150,000.’
‘Please do consider sailing on Shieldhall this summer, where you will be able to see the works that have been undertaken, and help us to manage Shieldhall moving forwards. It’s vital that we keep this part of our maritime heritage ‘alive and steaming’ for future generations to enjoy. If you are unable to join us for a sailing, please consider a donation or a membership plan.’
On all cruises, guests have the opportunity of visiting Shieldhall’s impressive Engine and Boiler Rooms; to meet the Captain on the Bridge; walk the teak decks and listen to an informed commentary on the sights and sounds of Southampton Water and the Solent. A wide range of refreshments is available on board. Free parking is available close to the Shieldhall berth in the Western Docks.
For more information on all the cruises mentioned, including details of prices and joining instructions, plus a full list of 2023 sailings, please visit www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk, or call 023 8155 0242.