Details of regular ships withdrawn from the Cape Town - Tristan route since 2000.

List dated 1st July 2022

Before the 1950s, there were no regular scheduled ships that visited Tristan. That changed with the establishment of the fishing factory, and voyages became more frequent following the resettlement after the 1961 volcanic eruption. The current regular vessels are detailed on our Ships page.

This page lists earlier ships that have been withdrawn from service since the year 2000. Many of these and some even earlier ships feature on the definitive stamps issued by the Tristan da Cunha Post Office in 2020. The New Issue page includes short descriptions of the ships pictured on the stamps.

SA Agulhas

SA Agulhas off Tristan in 1980s livery

The vessel (also now known as SA Agulhas I) is a purpose-built ice-strengthened Antarctic supply an oceanographic research vessel, built in 1977 by Mitsubishi, Shimonoseki, Japan

The ship was operated by the South African Government's Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Directorate: Antarctica and islands. SA Agulhas' last Tristan-Gough voyage was in 2011 after which it was replaced from 2012 by SA Agulhas II.

The SA Agulhas is a now dedicated cadet training ship currently (2018) under the command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

SA Agulhas in 21st Century livery off the Antarctic Pack Ice (Sam Oosthuizen)

Agulhas' Dimensions

6123 gross tonnes
111.95 metres long;
18.05 metres wide (beam)
6 metres moulded draft
12.5 knots Cruising Speed;
14 knots maximum speed
15,000 nautical miles range;
90 days endurance
40 crew and up to 98 other staff (including scientists) or passengers

The Agulhas used Bell 206 and Bell 212 helicopters to transport passengers to and from Tristan, especially during poor sea conditions.

MV Baltic Trader

Baltic Trader was obtained from Norway by Ovenstone to provide additional shipping to transport materials and equipment for the new factory after the February 2008 fire. She is a cargo ship and not equipped for fishing. After the sale of MV Kelso, MV Baltic Trader became the sister ship of MV Edinburgh in 2009. Baltic Trader was sold by Ovenstone in 2018, although she has been chartered from the new owners for special cargo voyages to Tristan since then.


1739 gross tonnes
82.47 metres long
12.7 metres wide (beam)
4.2 metres draft
2063 tonnes cargo capacity
12 knots service speed

MFV Geo Searcher

Geo Searcher was acquired by Ovenstone in 2016. It was originally built in 1982 for scientific research and was converted in Gdansk, Poland, to a factory freezer vessel with cargo and passenger capacity. Following her maiden voyage to Tristan in April 2017 she became the island's main fishing vessel. Unfortunately, she hit a rock and sank off Gough Island in October 2020. There were no casualties.


1853 gross tonnes
69.2 metres long
12.8 metres wide (beam)

More information >>

MV Kelso

MV Kelso was built in 1971 by Hayashikane Shipbuilders, she was previously named MV Toko Maru. MV Kelso had a crew of 38 and could carry 12 passengers. She was withdrawn from Tristan service after being sold in 2009 to become a private motor yacht in the Caribbean, renamed MY Titanic.

See 2009 Shipping News for details.


1678 gross tonnes
71.7 metres long
11 metres wide (beam)
6.8 metres depth
120 m2 cargo capacity
8000 hp Nigata engine

RMS St Helena

The 6767 tonne RMS St Helena was the last ocean-going Royal Mail Ship and is one of only two remaining passenger-cargo liners. It was withdrawn from service and put up for sale in February 2018, at which time it carried 56 officers and crew, and 156 passengers. Built in 1989, its facilities include a swimming pool, library, lounge bars and a restaurant capable of serving 6 course dinners.

The previous RMS provided an annual scheduled service from 1985-1989. Its successor provided an annual scheduled service to Tristan from 1990 - 2004, when the regular service, which enabled Tristan to import goods direct from the UK, was withdrawn. Afterwards, the RMS returned on special cruises in February 2006 to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the island's discovery, in January 2011, in November 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Tristan's Re-Settlement after the 1961 volcanic eruption, a "final" voyage in April 2016, and an extra final voyage in January 2018.

After a very brief period in 2018 of being renamed MNG Tahiti and serving as a vessel-based armory in the Gulf of Oman, she reverted to the name St Helena and now acts as a mobile hub for the race events of the "Extreme E" electric SUV car racing series.