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St Helena Online

The St Helena report and the gap in media

Basil Read ship: the pictures that made Johnny homesick
Picture taken from high ground, showing ship from above, with bow and stern ropes splayed out in all directions.

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Picture taken from high ground, showing ship from above, with bow and stern ropes splayed out in all directions. This photograph of the NP Glory 4 – the first ship ever to dock at St Helena – was taken from the side of the new airport haul road on the Pipe Ridge. It appears on the St Helena Community website, here, along with several other photographs.

UK-based webmaster Johnny Clingham said: “I feel homesick now, and feel jealous missing all the action as it unfolds.”

The ship was not as stable in the water as the RMS St Helena, according to Captain Bill Langworthy, who accompanied the voyage. “It rolled quite considerably on the way here but it can do everything we want it to do.”

On the historic day, though, the crew were blessed with a very calm sea.

Ralph Peters broadcast live from Rupert’s Bay as the ship docked at eight minutes to eight on the morning of Wednesday, 11 July 2012, loaded with vehicles and fuel needed by airport contractor Basil Read.

Ralph commentated as the ship nosed towards the jetty, then cut its engines as two heavy ropes, either side of the bow, were secured on bollards and slowly winched tight.

The island harbourmaster said: “It’s a magnificent job. We have had ships come close but this is the first time to come actually up to the jetty.”

It had taken 510 years, from the island’s discovery, for a ship to come alongside – unless one counts the captured slave-running vessels that were brought ashore in this same bay. But unlike the NP Glory 4, they never went to sea again.

Janet Lawrence, who heads the air access office, said: “Finally it’s here: it’s happened. Everybody in Basil Read is just as excited as we are.”

The first vehicle off the vessel was a Volvo grader. The most important, though, may well be a 70-tonne excavator.

Its first job, once it has been reassembled, will be to cut a way through the rock in the way of the final section of the 14-kilometre haul road to the airport site at Prosperous Bay Plain.

It is expected to be as long as two weeks before the road is finally open and the newly-unloaded construction vehicles can leave Rupert’s Valley.

  • Ralph Peters: “We still haven’t worked out what the ‘NP’ stands for in ‘NP Glory 4’. I remember Janet saying, ‘Not Present’… but it’s present now.”

In pictures: airport ship is first to dock at St Helena
Basil Read ship arrives off Jamestown

St Helena Airport Project – picture gallery

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