It has been made official by St Helena Line that from July 2016, the passenger and cargo Royal mail Ship St Helena will be removed from service. The RMS St Helena is intended for sale and London ship broker CW Kellock & Co Ltd has already been appointed to oversee the sale of the RMS. This news comes as expected to many who live on St Helena and passengers from around the world who have travelled on the vessel many times, everyone with connections to St Helena and the RMS Somehow cannot but feel that it formed part of the Islands life line.
The RMS St Helena has been attached to the Island and has been in operation for more than a quarter of a century therefore the impact of its absence affect the entire community locally on St Helena and abroad.
For the many years that the vessel has served the people of St Helena, it was managed by St Helena Line Ltd
St Helena being a remote South Atlantic Island meant that movement to and from the island was sufficiently served by the ship and this is where attachment stemmed from. This mode of transport has finally been phased out for what we will remember as a UK Overseas Territory located 1200 miles off the West coast of Africa in the South Atlantic.
Due to the size of the island, the RMS St Helena was adequate to meet all the transportation needs of the island at the time. The RMS was built specifically to serve the St Helena route, the ship was constructed in 1989 in Aberdeen Scotland. Even though she served a relatively small island the ship was big enough for all of the Island needs, with the ability to accommodate 156 passengers in its 56 cabins and at the same time carried enough cargo for the Island. A ship of this magnitude needed a large crew to manage her and she was therefore staffed with a total of 56 officers and crew members.
A ship that carries the RMS prefix had the permission to carry mail for the British Royal Mail under contract. This task dates back to the 1840s and today only four ships have the contract. The RMS St Helena is one out of the four ships and now the latest to drop that designation.
The RMS St Helena has been operating on a tight schedule since it was commissioned. The regular schedule has been operating out of Cape
Town but calling at St Helena and Ascension Island. A new airport is set to be opened on St Helena on 21st May 2016 and shortly after this the ship will cease its operations. It is assumed that with the new airport the majority of passengers will fly to St Helena and cargo movement will happen by another sea freight contractor. It is hope that the airport will be the newest and most widely used means of transport to the island.
It is just under 100 days to decommissioning date and the last few voyages will happen over the next few weeks to mark the grand finale to a long but historic service to the people of St Helena. The RMS is scheduled to call at Tristan da Cunha then head north followed by a farewell voyage to the UK. She is expected to visit the port of London then be moored alongside HMS Belfast off Tower Pier starting 7th to 10th June 2016 she will then sail south to St Helena on her final voyage.
The future of RMS St Helena. The hope for the future of the RMS St Helena has not been determined yet but continued service in another part of the world will enable the ship to continue its service to humanity.
The RMS holds many memories for almost everyone who has sailed on her.
Here is a collection of a few photos that was taken over the years.
Do you have any photographic memories that you would like to share of the RMS?