On The Waterfront: New Doxford economy ships of the ‘fifties

The launch of the 6,498 gross-ton cargo ship Aghia Marina on March 22, 1954 represented another milestone in the history of Wear shipbuilding.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 4:00 pm
The launching of Aghia Marina in 1954.

Built by William Doxford and Sons Ltd, the 483.8 foot long vessel was the first of a new all-welded class of Doxford motor ship, which saved 350 tons of steel in construction compared with an all-riveted ship.

Additionally, it was calculated that she could be powered by an engine of 600 horsepower less than a riveted ship of same deadweight and consume two and a quarter tons less fuel daily.

Built for Porto Blanco Compania Naviera SA of Panama, Aghia Marina was managed by Greek shipping interests Rethymnis and Kulukundis Ltd of London. She was fitted with a two-stroke single acting four cylinder Doxford engine giving her a service speed of 13.75 knots.

She was prototype of a series of three new Doxford economy ships ordered from the Pallion yard by the Porto Blanco company and was then the largest dry cargo ship built there.

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Launched by Nitsa Matantos, wife of an owners’ official, she had fulfilled a wish to launch a ship after standing on the same platform in 1951, during the launching ceremony of the tanker Charlton Venus.

Captain Minas Rethymnis, a principal of the owners, believed that Aghia Marina would be one of the safest and best ships afloat. He contemplated further orders, but this would depend upon whether British shipbuilding costs rose and whether the Treasury would relax credit controls.

At first, the ship sailed under the Panamanian flag of convenience, which was said to be a temporary measure.

In explaining the reason for this, he referred to differences between Greek shipowners and the Greek government.

“These differences are created by a gang of a few Greek government officials, who distinguished themselves for their meanness, bad faith and hatred of the Greek shipowner,” he said.

Clearly, all was not well but measures adopted afterwards would see a major revival in the Greek shipping registry.

After successful trials on July 5, 1954, during which she reached 16 knots, Aghia Marina was handed over to her owners, before making her maiden voyage to Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia.

After being renamed Brazen Eagle in 1979, the vessel was broken up for scrap at Gadani Beach, Pakistan in 1980.

The other two new all-welded design of economy ships were the 6,548 gross-ton Aghios Nicolaos, launched on October 11, 1954 and the 9,921 gross-ton Aghios Spyridon, launched on April 4, 1957.

Aghios Nicolaos (then Antagoras) caught fire off Benin, West Africa in 1978, later breaking in two, while Aghios Spyridon (renamed Trinity) was scrapped in South Korea in 1979.