Today St Helena Government has announced that St Helena Line will withdraw the RMS St Helena from service in February 2018.
The RMS is now being offered for sale and London shipbroker CW Kellock & Co Ltd will handle the sale of the RMS to her new potential buyers.
The RMS St Helena has been in service for more than a quarter of a century and was built in 1990 in Aberdeen Scotland as a fit for purpose ship to serve St Helena Island in the South Atlantic.
The RMS as she is known as has a gross tonnage of 6,767 gross tonnes, and can accommodate 156 passengers in 56 cabins. The RMS St Helena was scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2015 but due to the delay in the Islands airport opening and commencement of a commercial air service, she was forced to continue serving the island until an access solution was implemented. St Helena will now open its doors to commercial air travel on the 14 October 2017. The RMS St Helena will continue her final few voyages to the Island calling at St Helena, Ascension and a final voyage to Tristian da Cunha and it is hoped her the last voyage will end in Cape town on the 15 February 2018. Details of the sale of the RMS can be found on the RMS St Helena website. If you would like to travel on the RMS St Helena for the very last time more information can be found here
The 58-minute film documentary of life on board and the last voyage of the RMS is produced by T.L. Productions.
Tony Leo who owns TL Productions thought it would be good to capture the moments of the last voyage of the RMS to the UK on camera after hearing the announcement in May 2015 which was a year in advance to the commencement of this historic voyage. Tony began planning well in advance, until he was finally ready for the trip on 22nd May 2016 when the RMS St Helena weighed anchor in James Bay and he departed St Helena for the UK via Ascension Island and Tenerife. Almost everyone on board were Island tourists and not the traditional saint traveller seeking jobs off shore and returning to work.
Everyone who travelled on board this amazing journey had a memorable time and enjoyed every moment of the journey. The voyage was so memorable, that it was difficult to determine what the highlights were.
This documentary film of the last remaining Royal Mail Ship is truly a masterpiece and will become a collector’s item in years to come” said Tony. This film is a true Saint production. The cameraman is a saint. A saint directed it, A saint edit, scripted and narrated it. The film features the London visit and the river Thames, crew members, passengers, key people who has contributed to the RMS success story over the years and also two of our St Helena’s ships captains. Captain Andrew Greentree and Captain Rodney Young. Sadly, Captain Young passed away suddenly only months after this voyage.
The film will be on sale in front of the Canister in Jamestown from 9 am on Saturday 15th July 2017. Reach back St Helena will be managing online sales from this weekend and a trailer, and information on how to buy can be found online at www.sthelenalocal.com Where copies of the film can be ordered and shipped to Europe, USA and South Africa and other destinations, A film trailer, Information and updates can also be found on the TL production Facebook.
If you have travelled on the RMS St Helena over the last 27 years, then watching this documentary should bring back many happy memories. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy watching this 58-minute documentary. read a more in depth view of the unseen film here
It has been announced by SHG that an Air partner chartered RJ85 Aircraft will arrive at St Helena’s Airport from Cape Town with some of the affected RMS passengers onboard as early as Wednesday 03rdMay 2017.
The affected passengers spent weeks of frustration sitting in Capetown whilst SHG and DFID negotiated and agreed to put on a flight to bring the passengers home. This solution was talked about earlier but have only just recently became a reality.
As many will recall Andrew weir shipping notified the Island on the 16th April 2017, that the RMS St Helena had developed a further fault with its starboard propeller only hours after it had left drydock in Simons Town. It was reported that RMS develop the very same problem it went into drydock to have fixed in the first place.
Whilst docked in Capetown it was also discovered that water was leaking through the new shaft seals that was fitted. This now meant the RMS St Helena would have to return to drydock to rectify the faults and as a consequence the forthcoming scheduled voyages to St Helena had to be cancelled. Some tourist passengers was forced to returned home.
A decision was taken to unloaded both passengers and cargo in preparation for its return back to Simonstown dry dock. Cargo was then loaded onto the MV Helena. The MV Helena is the replacement vessel for the RMS St Helena when she finally goes off line but had to be brought quickly into service to bring the awaited cargoes to St Helena. The RMS St Helena will continue during the transition period from sea to air and will be taken out of service when the air service is fully implemented.
After much discussions most passengers were accommodated with family and friend and other went into Hotels and Guest houses around Capetown. Most if not all transit and tourist class passengers, returned back to their home countries because there was no clarity on timeline or a contingency plan in place to move the affected passengers to St Helena.
Up to ten passengers were offered a voyage to St Helena on the survey research vessel Ocean Observer which incidentally was departing Cape town the same week. The Ocean Observer and was on route to Puerto Rico but was happy to divert via St Helena to drop off passengers. It was first thought that the Ocean Observer could accommodate more than ten passengers on this journey, however, the UK MCSA did not give approval for this to happen. This meant that the majority of passengers were to remain in Cape town until the Government found a solution.
Whist the passengers sat in Capetown and with no worthwhile news nor clarity coming from AW shipping managers, SHG and DFID many rumours circulated through the social media platform. Most social media post complained about the lack of communication from the official authorities back in London and in St Helena. During this news outage over the Easter period, the community radio station Saint Fm worked tirelessly to keep everyone up to speed with the events as they unfolded.
During this time, another situation had unfolded on Ascension Island. The Ascension Island Airfield operators had announced that they were cancelling all commercial and South Atlantic Airbridge flights for the foreseeable future. There were safety concerns about the state of its Airfield, this meant that people travelling to and from the Falkland Island and also the UK would not be able to make the journey to Ascension Island to connect with the RMS St Helena in Ascension.
With all of this now causing even further impact on the St Helena travel situation it began to look even more difficult to overcome.
Finally the St Helena Government announced that their Air partner has teamed up with SA Air-link and has a contractual agreement to fly the affected passengers to St Helena via Namibe on Wednesday 03rdMay 2017.
Two of the affected passengers Tracy and Chad Corker who were stuck in Cape town are booked onto the flight from Cape town, Tracy said apart from been totally frustrated with the communication issues during this whole process, she is looking forward to arriving home in style by air and she has decided to purchase a new outfit for the arrival day. Tracy owns and operates one of the oldest and most successful establish tour services (Corkers Tourist Services) on the Island.
The Islands Governor Lisa Phillips was also due to return back to the Island on this flight.
The Air Partner and SA Air link flight will also be offering priority booking seats on the return flight from St Helena to Capetown for those passengers that were affected by the delay of the RMS. St Helena Government and local media on St Helena will be updating every one with more details as soon as they become available.
Passengers who were connecting with the RMS voyage 256 via Ascension were offered a passage to the Island on RMS voyage 257 which leaving Capetown on or about 04th may 2017. Some of the passengers with onward travel arrangements have already flown to Cape town this weekend. Some affected medivacs and St Helena Government employees are due to fly on a BA flight departing PM from London Heathrow Airport on Wednesday 03rd May 2017. These passengers will be transferred to the RMS directly on arrival in cape town.
Discussion are ongoing to re-route passengers via Cape town who are affected by the Ascension Island connection on voyage 257 on the 13th May 2017. This would however mean a six weeks duration would be required for this journey and that for most people another disappointment as they would not be able to get that amount of leave and will be forced to cancel their trip.
Speaking with a family who had planned this journey for some years (via Ascension) to visit there 86-year-old granny and great granny is devastated as they are finding it difficult to change their travel arrangements at such short notice.
The RMS was due to depart Simons Town drydock today 02 May for sea trials, this however didn’t happen and the RMS is still in Simons Town. It is hope that news of the delay will be forthcoming .
Travel to St Helena by sea and air gets even more frustrating to say the least. The recent news of the RMS with a further problem and the Ascension runway closed for emergency repairs and despite all of this St Helena has an operational airport but no air service. Rumours are on the Streets of Jamestown and across social media stating that the RMS will sail on one engine from Capetown this week as it did on the previous voyage. Yesterday these rumours were confirmed by a press release from the St Helena Government. St Helena Line has notified the Islands government that a further problem has been detected with the starboard propeller on the RMS St Helena. The problem shows that the starboard propeller blades are locked into a forward position. A decision has been made to continue the voyage to the Island on one engine which will result in a delay to arrival times to the island and also the rest of the voyage.
Regarding Ascension, the government has said that routine flights from the UK to Ascension and the Falkland Islands will not take place from the 14th April until further notice due to safety concerns as a result of ongoing issues with the Islands runway. A number of people are booked to depart Brize Norton (UK) on the 14th and 19th April 2017 to fly to Ascension in time to connect with the RMS for onward travel to St Helena. The press release states that passenger lists are been reviewed and a decision on the best way forward will be announced shortly.
The whole situation is very discouraging and in most cases annoying for travellers and more especially for those who have had to cancel their passages because they are unable to follow through on their planned itinerary.
Cargo operations were ongoing and the RMS was scheduled to depart PM on Friday 14th April (yesterday) however we are waking up to further news that the RMS is still alongside at Duncan dock in Cape town and is due to depart at 10 AM this morning.
Social media reacts as the frustration deepens”.
A Island businessman writes.
“The time has come for SHG to think outside the box!! We have a functioning airport, why not charter an able aircraft that can safely land here…bring in Saints that are now cut off due to Ascension runway and make things a little more positive than this huge negativity? ????”
“The Tannoy announces The RMS will sail to St Helena on one propeller”