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GREATER LONDON INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY

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Notes from Bob Carr — June 1994

Another ship in the West India Docks

The Greenpeace tug Solo was in the West India Docks over the weekend of 19/20 March 1994 and open to the public. She was berthed on the south side of South Dock just west of the Millwall Cut, near to where the Anastasis lay last June (GLIAS Newsletter August 1993). It would be nice if this kind of visit to the docks becomes a regular feature.

Formerly the Smit Houston, Solo is now occupied in gathering information about pollution and other threats to wildlife and our planet in general. She had carried out an exciting foray to monitor nuclear dumping in the Kara Sea to the north of Russia. Compared with the Anastasis, Solo is relatively small with an overall length of 222 feet compared with 522 for the ex-Italian liner. Gross tonnages are 2,167 and 11,695 respectively. Nevertheless a visit to the Solo was full of interest and we were allowed to wander around freely unlike the limited organised tour provided on board the Anastasis.

Solo is a large size fully ocean-going tug; she was built by Verolme Scheepswerf Heusden B V in the Netherlands, yard number 935 and completed in May 1977. Heusden is fairly inland, situated on the south bank of the Bergsche Maas roughly between Dordrecht and s'Hertogenbosch. Until 1990 Solo was the Smit Houston and would have been engaged in towing things like oilrigs. Her recent role is more newsworthy.

On the bridge the usual rich array of navigational aids was noted. The radar showed a good image of the surrounding West India Docks. Particularly impressive was the clear visual view, especially aft on to the deck where cables would be handled during towing work. The engines can be directly controlled from the bridge.

The engine room was very much open for inspection and one could examine the twin diesel engines closely. These are Werkspoor 6TM410 type, four-stroke single-acting each of six cylinders 410mm bore x 470mm stroke. The engines were built by Stork-Werkspoor Diesel BV of Amsterdam. Power is 9,200bhp and service speed 16 knots. (The engines of the Anastasis developed 16,100 bhp). As well as the twin controllable pitch propellers at the stern there is an athwartships bow thruster for manoeuvring.

The hull is of steel welded throughout. Her depth markings are in units of 0.2 metres. Maximum draught is 6.235 metres. At the time of the visit the reading at the bow was 54. Many thanks to Greenpeace for a superb visit. Bob Carr

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© GLIAS, 1994