MV St Helena Extreme E makes a surprise visit

RMS St Helena returns to Tristan in a new guise

MV St Helena (formerly the RMS St Helena) makes surprise visit to Tristan.

Report and main photos from Tristan Administrator Sean Burns

Tristan's Head of Telecommunications, Andy Repetto has the important role of keeping a constant lookout for vessels within the island's waters. On 13th December 2022, he spotted the MV St Helena transiting a few hundred miles away and the following day made radio contact with the vessel when it was around 100 miles away. After a friendly exchange with the island, the captain asked if he could alter course and make a pass by, which was of course approved. Despite the kind invitation to come aboard, the weather made that impossible, but we could not let such an opportunity pass without some form of exchange with a vessel that is so close to the island's heart.

The Fisheries patrol vessel was already deployed for work on Inaccessible and on her return was able to facilitate an exchange of gifts. As the photographs show, the conditions were challenging but the skill of the coxswain Rodney Green and his crew of Dean Repetto, Kieran Glass, Julian Repetto, Clive Glass and Wayne Swain made it all possible.

The Fisheries RIB making its way out of Calshot Harbour in challenging conditions on 14th December 2022.
The RIB returning after exchanging gifts with the MV St Helena Extreme E.
The RIB approaches Calshot Harbour with the MV St Helena Extreme E sailing away.
The RIB enters the harbour safely loaded with presents.

The captain and crew sent a load of Christmas goodies ashore for the community, which as always will be shared around. The community is very grateful for these generous gifts. The island also sent out some gifts, including some of our famous and world class lobster.

In an exchange with the captain, we were able to thank him and the crew and to highlight the very close connection the island has with the vessel. Many islanders have sailed on her, and islanders have worked on her and her predecessors.

Sean Burns' photo taken on 6th January 2018 when the former RMS St Helena left Tristan da Cunha.

As we were watching, another longstanding Wave Dancer crew member Nigel Lavarello reminded me of the time the RMS last exchanged gifts on a pass by when the RMS Queen Mary 2 was here in 2011. The RMS St Helena last left Tristan da Cunha on 6th January 2018.

RMS St Helena becomes the MV ST Helena Extreme E

From the Editor with images from Extreme E.

The former RMS St Helena was acquired by Extreme in in 2018 and was converted into what has been described as a 'floating paddock' to provide the logistics centrepiece of the new electric off-road racing series Extreme E. The ship is now called the MV St Helena Extreme E and travels the world between venues for its series of electric car races.

Those who knew the old RMS St Helena will probably find this profile view of the ship
in its new guise as MV St Helena Extreme E familiar.

The ship is able to carry a mixture of cargo, for example, the championship's cars as well as team members – there are 62 cabins on board. The series chose to purchase the ship as moving the championship's freight via sea will reduce emissions by two thirds in comparison to air freight.

The original 20 square metre swimming pool has been replaced with a Science Laboratory, so research can be conducted en route. This is a key element of Extreme E which looks to use its sporting platform to shine a spotlight on climate change issues, and solutions, around the world.

The major refit has seen her engines have been stripped and all components have been renewed or replaced and she runs on low sulphur marine diesel, known as 'Champagne' in the industry. The propellers have also been refurbished to reduce friction and improve efficiency. The outside has been repainted with the Extreme E logo emblazoned on the side. The underwater hull is painted in up-to-date red anti-fouling paint meaning it is kept clean and makes her more streamlined, which again reduces CO2 emissions.

The ship's interior has been given a new lease of life, with the original interior panelling given a wooden vinyl overlay, 4,000 new low emission LED lights replace the old power intensive lighting, and there are new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The bridge has been fitted with the latest in navigational shipping technology including DGPS, radio and ultrasonic wind system.

Examples of Extreme E races includes one in December 2021 at the British Ministry of Defence Base at Bovington in Dorset which was labelled the 'Jurassic X Prix'and was the last of the inaugural season which also included races in Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland and Sardinia.

Left: Extreme E Logo

The cars are all-electric ODYSSEY 21 race cars – three of which are entrants for teams founded by Sir Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button. They incorporate AFC Energy systems including solar panels and hydrogen fuel cell to charge the cars emission free, two Zenobe second-life batteries to power the paddock, plus everything else required to create a race site in remote locations without event infrastructure.

The MV St Helena Extreme E came to Tristan waters after the final event of the 2022 season which was the Uruguay Natural Energy X Prix in Punta del Este held in late November. The ship was sailing at 8 knots (15 kph) on 17th December, presumably saving fuel for an ETA of 26th December at Durban, South Africa.

See: St. Helena - Extreme E - The Electric Odyssey ( for more.