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Former Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena Returns 'Again' to UK Waters

23rd October 2018
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The former Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena that served between South Africa and the remote UK island territory of St. Helena (made a historic once off charter call to Irish ports in 1995), last week returned to UK waters, (Portland, Dorset, not since 2011). AFLOAT made a visit on board the 'RMS' when the passenger-cargoship made a historic first and only call to its registered homeport of London in 2016. The former Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena that served between South Africa and the remote UK island territory of St. Helena (made a historic once off charter call to Irish ports in 1995), last week returned to UK waters, (Portland, Dorset, not since 2011). AFLOAT made a visit on board the 'RMS' when the passenger-cargoship made a historic first and only call to its registered homeport of London in 2016. Photo: Dorset Echo-twitter

#Ports&Shipping - In just over a week of the RMS Leinster centenary ceremony held to commemorate the Irish Sea steamer, another former Royal Mail Ship RMS St. Helena reports the Dorset Echo returned to UK waters after an absence of seven years.

Afloat adds the ship was sold earlier this year to become MNG Tahiti, returned to Portland, Dorset from where the passengership also used to carry goods to the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. The ship was spotted arriving into Portland Port by Paul Dallaway this afternoon (last Thursday).

The 6,767-tonne cargo and passenger vessel was once the sole source of supply of all goods for the small island found 1,500 miles north west of Cape Town, South Africa.

It was also one of the last working Royal Mail ships in the world and as Afloat previously reported the 'RMS' as the ship was affectionately called was withdrawn from service earlier this year.

For more on the newspaper's coverage click here 

Afloat also adds the RMS St. Helena made a first and only call to Irish ports in 1995 during a charter cruise to Dublin and Cork (Cobh).

On the unique call to the Irish capital, the ship berthed on Sir John Rogersons Quay, along the south quays. Further upriver and on the north banks of the Liffey on Eden Quay, is where the RMS Leinster's operator, the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company's head office was located, see story.  

More than two decades later in 2016 the London registered ship finally made a first and farewell call to the UK capital. This was in advance of the ship's withdrawal from service that year of the pivotal island lifeline service, as otherwise this was the only way to reach the island. When introduced in 1990, RMS St. Helena first operated from the UK (Cardiff) to St. Helena, but this changed to the Dorset port. 

Delays due to safety concerns of the first airport to be built on St. Helena led to the RMS to continue carrying out south Atlantic voyages. The airport eventually opened to commercial flights and so the final sailing took place in February, marking the end of an era, however a cargo-only ship maintains services. 

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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