The container ship MV San Clemente diverted to Tristan on the 18th July 2015 to pick up the island’s UK Representative, Chris Carnegy.

Hamburg Sud Container Ship San Clemente's July Visit

Hitching a lift in mid-Atlantic on Hamburg Sud Container Ship San Clemente

We’ve previously reported the generosity of container line Hamburg Sud, whose team diverted the MV San Clemente to pick-up Tristan’s UK Representative. Chris Carnegy’s intended berth on the MV Edinburgh was urgently required for a medevac, so his departure from the island came later than expected – and it came on a very different vessel.

Chris sent this report on his voyage:

The morning of July 18th was a bit of a whirlwind. We knew Hamburg Sud were happy to pick me up, but there had been doubts over light and sea conditions. The fates were kind, though; the San Clemente arrived just after dawn, and the sea was blessedly calm. Suddenly, it was all systems go.

Approaching the San Clemente
on Connie's Police RIB at 07.51

Safely aboard,
Chris has a bird's eye view of the Police RIB
before it departs for Calshot Harbour
- Tristan transfer crew's mission accomplished.

Photos in this section from Chris Carnegy

Administrator Alex Mitham gave me and my luggage a lift to the harbour, where Inspector Conrad Glass was ready to co-ordinate the transfer. There was time for just the quickest of goodbyes – too short, really, to express my gratitude for all the kindness I’d been shown by islanders during my extended stay. And then we were off in the police RIB, and shadowing the giant ship as she came close to the settlement and turned on a sixpence to give us a lee. The end of the RIB ride was as quick as the start; Tristanian helping hands steadied me as I stepped onto the pilot ladder, and after climbing just a few rungs I was safely inside.

First mate Jose Daria welcomed me aboard and walked me to the pilot’s cabin that would be mine until Durban. On the bridge, I met captain Yanko Yankov and third mate Josh Hannam who hails from Yorkshire. Josh was the only English crew member (they’re mostly Bulgarians and Filipinos), and it fell to him to give my safety briefing. He also let me use his mess account to buy some beers, so he might have saved my life in more ways than one!

The San Clemente is huge. 300 metres long, she weighs-in fully loaded at around 90,000 tonnes. And she’s almost brand new: Hamburg Sud bought her mid-build when a Greek buyer fell away, and she was delivered in 2014. So it’s not surprising, but it is a treat, to see everything about her still spick and span.

Views of Tristan from the San Clemente as the ship sets off
Retrospective of Tristan from crew member Josh Hannam

I soon fell into that timeless routine that goes with a long sea passage; well fed in the officers’ mess, well-read thanks to my Kindle, and square-eyed from all the DVDs. I caught up on my BBC work and my volunteer duties for Tristan. And a real treat was the chance to get some exercise: walking the length of the ship, and pedalling furiously on the exercise bike in the gym.

The crew were kind, professional and very patient with all my questions as I tried to learn more about the ship and its work. Chief engineer Hristo Altaparmakov showed me around his engine room; a cathedral of steel with nine vast pistons propelling us eastwards at up to 21kt.

Hristo Altaparmakov and prop shaft

Officer's Mess ~ Above -Looking forward from bridge wing

The passage took just over a week, slightly delayed by a backlog in Durban. But I’d been fretting about the three-month gap in Tristan’s shipping schedule, so it was still a huge advance on that.

Hamburg Sud is one of those freight lines that actively encourages passengers (though normally ones who join at a large port!), and they take a fair number on some routes, notably from Germany to South America. After my unexpected journey, I’d highly recommend a container-ship voyage as one of life’s travel experiences. And I found that the chance to sail close to Tristan and see the settlement had been a treat for San Clemente’s crew as well – until now they’d only glimpsed the island from afar.

My heartfelt thanks go to Captain Yankov and all the crew who came to my aid.

Yanko Yankov with Chris on bridge
Hamburg Sud container ship San Clemente
off Calshot Harbour on Saturday 18th July 2015
Photo: Andy Repetto

Initial report from Administrator Alex Mitham and Photos from Chris Standing

Views from Calshot Harbour at about 07.50 on Saturday 18th July as the Hamburg Sud container ship San Clemente picked up Chris Carnegy. The island RIB is stationary in the left photo as it waits for the huge ship to stop.

On the 18th July 2015 at 07.50, the San Clemente picked up Chris Carnegy, Tristan da Cunha Government's UK Representative. Chris had been stranded on island after very kindly agreeing to step aside and allow another passenger to take his place on the MV Edinburgh, which returned to Cape Town earlier in the week.

As Administrator for Tristan da Cunha, I would like to pass on the Islands’ deep appreciation for Chris' generosity as well as Hamburg Suds tireless support for the island. Chris only took over as UK Representative at the beginning of the year, but has already now experienced firsthand the difficulties in our transport links with the outside world. However as Chris mentioned himself, the extended stay has at least provided him with a grater appreciation of Tristan life and I know the Island look forward to welcoming him back in 2016.

The Chief Islander, Island Council, as well as every Tristanian are extremely grateful to Hamburg Sud's assistance. Being the remotest inhabited island in the world, it is immensely reassuring and gratifying to know that there are individuals, and companies out there who are willing to assist in times of need. The Island will always come to any vessels assistance, and it is a great shame that other companies are unwilling to help Tristan, especially as the island has helped those in the past. The Island will always reciprocate, but it appears that many no longer wish to return that favour.

As readers well know Tristanians are incredibly welcoming, and Hamburg Sud has certainly been taken to Tristan da Cunha's’ heart, winning everyone’s respect, trust and friendship

Hamburg Sud are the only company willing to pick up medevacs or stranded individuals on Tristan. This is a great shame as many shipping companies have required TDC assistance in the past.

Next year we are hoping to present Hamburg Sud with an official plaque of friendship (similar to the WWII plaque on the flagpole). It is the least we can do for a company who are continually going out of their way to help the community.

Above: The Tristan RIB returning from San Clemente after safely transporting Chris to the ship to begin his journey back to the UK.

Right: San Clemente departing with Chris safely aboard.