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#Ports&Shipping – An emergency on board the Royal Mail Ship RMS St. Helena forced the return of the ship to St Helena Island in the South Atlantic yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The passenger-cargohip returned to St. Helena, a UK overseas territory, due to an emergency on board, according to the St. Helena Government.
It is thought the emergency involved a sick passenger who was disembarked offshore yesterday morning. Following the transfer and associated operations which took almost two hours to complete, RMS St. Helena made her final bow to St. Helena before resuming service.
The 6,787 gross tonnage ship is currently making the final ever sailing with the return leg of the round trip voyage to Cape Town, South Africa.
The original ‘scheduled’ departure from St. Helena took place on Saturday off Jamestown, the island’s capital amid much fanfare and emotion. St. Helenian’s or ‘Saints’ as they like to call themselves bid farewell to RMS St. Helena for the final time and which involved a flotilla circle the ship in Jamestown Bay.
It was on the proceeding Friday (9 February) – the day having been declared a public holiday by Governor Lisa Phillips, that the main day of the farewell celebrations took place on the Seafront lining the capital that included the RMS’s ‘Crew Parade’
A large crowd turned out to celebrate 27 years’ service of the RMS St Helena (or the ‘RMS’ as affectionately known by the ‘Saints’). Many of the islanders took advantage of the limited free tickets to attend the RMS Open Day and visit the ship for the last time.
Speeches were given by the Governor, Captain Williams, and Director of St Helena Line, Kedell Worboys MBE to highlight the historical signifance of the day. Added to the officiallity, throughout the day entertainment and activities were held for all ages.
Live performances from an Irish duo, the Kudos, and local band, Island Politics, kept the crowd engaged late into the night that was rounded off with a fireworks display. In addition the releasing of Chinese lanterns which lit the night sky above the RMS St Helena which wowed the crowds of onlookers on that historic occasion. For photos and further coverage click here.
The passenger-cargoship, only one of two to hold the title of ‘Royal Mail Ship’ has been a loyal servant in providing a dedicated island-lifeline with the rest of the outside world. Both passengers and cargo having been transferred to and fro by lighters and tenders to Jamestown.
The dynamics of such operations changed dramatically with the opening in October last year of the first island airport that has connecting flights to South Africa through Johannesburg. Such services are a game-changer not only for Saints but a boost to tourism along with business opportunities, however there are those you lament the end of the RMS.
As Afloat previously reported, a cargo-only service by sea will still be maintained when a containership is scheduled to begin service next Wednesday, 21 February. The ship M.V. Helena and operated by AW Ship Management is to make monthly calls at St Helena over a twelve-month period and four calls to Ascension.