Friday, June 18, 2010

Lloyds Register Conduct An Unusual Ships Survey

Russian Connection to Restore a British Icon
Shipping News Feature

UK – When Russian Shipping Company Sovcomflot and the Government of the Russian Federation decided they wished to mark the 65th anniversary of VE Day and the end of World War Two in Europe they decided an appropriate gesture would be to restore HMS Belfast, a symbol of resistance to many, to her former glory. Resting as a familiar sight in the Pool of London since1971 sadly time and weather has achieved what the German U boats could not and the old ship was looking the worse for wear.

Belfast fought through freezing conditions and mountainous seas to protect vital wartime convoys to a beleaguered Soviet Union and her role has been recognised by the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, who presented a signed commemorative diploma to the ship, and ordered the ‘State Jubilee Medal for the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945’ be awarded to Belfast’s surviving crew members.

Current owners of the ship, the Imperial War Museum, have been seeking funds to restore the vessel whose profile has been marred for the past few years by unsightly scaffolding surrounding her mainmast. The cause is corrosion, which has affected both the cruiser’s steel-lattice masts and now, with President Medvedev’s backing, the Russian shipping company, Sovcomflot, has mobilised several Russian shipyards to work on new steel-lattice masts for the ship. In support of the project, Sovcomflot also invited the City-based classification society, Lloyd’s Register to help in assessing and designing the restoration work.

David Moorhouse CBE, the chairman of Lloyd’s Register, who was personally involved in agreeing the restoration work with the IWM said it was a fitting way to show appreciation for the sacrifice of thousands of British sailors – merchant navy and Royal Navy – who took part in the epic Arctic convoys, delivering desperately needed munitions, tanks and aircraft, against determined German air and sea attack, not to mention sub-zero temperatures, ice and Arctic storms.

Mr Moorhouse said:

“This project is about a very special bond, born out of hardship and danger and the mutual respect, between the Russian and British sailors many of whom gave their lives to keep the supply lines that were the Murmansk and Archangel convoys operational.

“It was really pleasing for Lloyd’s Register to be invited to help support an initiative originated by the Russian Shipping Company Sovcomflot and supported by Russian shipyards and the Government of the Russian Federation to help fund and fabricate new masts as a gesture of thanks and a reaffirmation of that bond.”

Lloyd's Register, itself celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, performed a structural survey of the lower portions of the masts and supporting decks so that the cut-off point could be determined. The structure was examined and a recommendation made that the main mast be replaced above the superstructure deck and the fore mast be replaced above the fan room deck head.

To aid construction and enable quality control checks to ensure the accurate replication of the new masts, the Lloyd's Register team redrew the original blue prints, which were over 50 years old and in imperial units, and converted the dimensions into metric.

As well as service on the Arctic convoys, Belfast also took part in the sinking of the German battle cruiser, Scharnhorst off the North Cape of Norway in December 1943, and was part of the bombardment force covering the D-Day landings. She also saw service during the Korean War in 1950-53.