This is one ship I have always taken a fancy to, possibly because of the interesting work that she does, but also because she is one of those unique vessels that are often overlooked by people in favour of the latest floating blocks of flats with a pointy end.
I was out on Friday 19 June when she arrived, and when I got home discovered that she was in Southampton at 104, and was due to sail at 14H00. I quickly gathered my stuff and hurtled down to Town Quay to see the situation. She was this seemingly small dot sitting in the space between AIDAstella and Adonia, and I really regret not going down to Mayflower Park to have a look from there. But, she was supposed to sail almost as I arrived and I didn’t want to be caught in the middle. Adonia is considered a small ship, but even she dwarfed Patricia.
Her usual stomping grounds are the Coast of England and Wales as well as the Channel Islands. Her duties include the repair and maintenance of navigational aids as well as the positioning and deployment of marine equipment. She is a multi-tasker, and one of those ships that performs a vital role in keeping sea lanes safe and marked. She came into service in 1982 and is operated by Trinity House.
14H00 came and went, and still she did not move. I rechecked my data and her sailing had been moved to 14H30. As usual I spent that time photographing odd things and muttering about tardiness and being late. 14H30 came, and she still did not move. By now I was almost ready to head down to Mayflower Park and urge her on a bit. At roughly 14H45 she started to move, and being so small it was hard to pick her out amongst the clutter.
It was round about this time when I was having a minor war with a bee that was not amused by me being at Town Quay and I ended up being half stung. I suspect that somewhere at Town Quay there is a half dead bee flying around with his sting still attached to his body.
Make no mistake about it, she is a working ship, and has all the bits and bobs of a vessel that performs an essential service. She has accommodation for 12 passengers, and these used to be amongst the most sought after berths for people who prefer real ships to cruise ships. She also carries a helicopter on her helipad, but between when she arrived and when she sailed she seemed to have change from a red helicopter to a yellow one. For some reason she reminds me of another small working vessel: the RMS St Helena.
Then she was past me and I could chalk her off on my list while I watched her sail past QEII terminal. I know I would sail on her like a shot because of her interesting voyages, but also because she is a working vessel of the old school of ship design. She is already over 30 years old and I have not heard of a replacement being built. But Trinity House does operate two other vessels: THV Galatea and THV Alert, and Galatea is probably her replacement.
And that was the Patrica, yet another favourite of mine. Definitely a good looking vessel, and I was so glad to see her before she too became redundant or surplus tonnage. Long may she be with us.
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