Union Wellington?

Edith Kern
5th April 2005, 04:25
Perhaps someone will be able to tell me the fate of the Union Wellington,
she was launched as the Stena Shipper but was bought on completion by the Union Co. I worked by her when she was tied up at the patent slip in Evans bay stripping her of Union Co gear prior to her leaving N.Z.
I beleive she was almost lost leaving Melbourne while under Union Co colours, something to do with the bow door, which I think was welded closed after this incident. Have heard that she went down after leaving N.Z. but don't know whether this is correct

5th April 2005, 08:59
Yes I recall the "Union Wellington" and the incident you mention. The visor door came loose in mid tasman and every time she nosed into a heavy sea the door rose up and water entered the vessel. She survived that and was known amongst the fleet as the "union Bangla Desh" because there was always some sort of disaster happening to her! I recall seeing her stuck on the angle across Taranaki St wharf in Wellington during a strong nor wester with one of the old tugs "taioma" or "Tapuhi" trying to haul her off. Lots of smoke - lots of boiling white water but no action. Finally they waited for the wind to die down and then she came off on her own. She had her bow resting on the breastwork at Te Papa and her stern against the wharf. It looke quite strange and a bit embarrassing!

david smith
5th April 2005, 10:06
last seen as Boa Vista, panamanian Registered on charter to HUAL in Dubai.(2004)

5th April 2005, 10:12
The UNION WELLINGTON - without a doubt, she had to be one of the ugliest RO/RO's in the Union Co. fleet.
I haven't heard of the two incidents recounted above - thanks for sharing them.
I can however give some details of her career thus:
Built 1973 by A. Vuijk & Zonen, Capelle. Launched as STENA SHIPPER and sold on completion to the Union Company. 2,638grt.
25 Nov 1975: Laid up Wellington.
1976: Sold to Arghiris Navigation Co. S.A., Piraeus, renamed ALPHA EXPRESS. Lengthened by 27 metres by Werft Nobiskrug, Rendsberg late 1976. This improved her appearance immensely!
1980: Re-purchased by Stena and renamed STENA SHIPPER.
1980: Chartered(?) by Northern Coasters Ltd., London and renamed SPEEDLINK VANGUARD. At this point she had rail lines installed in her vehicle deck. Also involved in a collision in the English Channel which was quite serious - the other vessel sinking(?) I need to do a bit of research on that.
Mar 1987: Returned to Stena and underwent a series of name changes and charters.
CARIBE EXPRESS 1987-88, STENA SHIPPER 1988, KIRK SHIPPER 1988-89, and then NORMANDIE SHIPPER 1989-99. Was laid up in Caen Canal 1995-1999.
1999: Sold to Bonavista Shipping Corp., Nassau and renamed BONAVISTA (Bahamas flag).
No further information.
Hope that helps, Edith.

david smith
5th April 2005, 11:36
As Speedlink Vanguard she was in Collision with the European Gateway, off Felixstowe in the North Sea. The latter capsized and was refloated months later. According to Lloyds the Union Wellington is now Boa Vista. She is now classed as 8104gt, 2431nt an a deadweight of 2771 see

5th April 2005, 17:56
Thanks for that David.
Had a look at the link you give, she's changed her looks over the years and good to see her still going at the ripe old age of 32.

david smith
5th April 2005, 20:51
I'm still going at a greater age despite trying to keep my looks (and my hair!).
I can give more details on the Speedlink Vanguard as I am in contact with the Sealink superintendant on duty that night. I know that a contributary factor was not appreciating the effect of strong wind whilst rounding the buoy to enter the main channel.
Photo of European Gateway prior to the accident.

Edith Kern
6th April 2005, 04:25
Thanks for that chaps, surprised to hear that she is still crashing her way around,
would take more than the odd extension to make this duckling into a swan!

21st May 2005, 10:40
Hi All,
I will introduce myself. My name is Gary and I live in Wellington. Was involved in the maritime industry for quite a few years. First by going deep sea and later in the Wellington Harbour Board. I have been reading the thread on the Union Wellington. Very interesting vessel. I served on this vessel for approx 11 months and was on her when the bow door started to open on its own. Approx about 1 1/2 days out from Melbourne if my mind serves me right. Not sure as to why it happened but weather at the time was not to bad. We had to put extra lashings on which consisted of bottle screws and chains. There was an inner ramp which acted as a bulkhead so a lot of water did not get onto the main deck. We went back to Melbourne where the bow door had plates welded on around the door to permanently secure it. It did the job nicely as we had no more trouble with that part. As mentioned this vessel was plagued with problems. To name a couple. Heavy weather in Tasman had dollies on the top deck with chlorine gas bottles on. These broke adrift. 2 inch chain and 10ton bottle screws could not hold them. Seas estimated at that time to be approx 14meters very steep and very short.
Sustained heavy damage on top deck. Steel around the engine room casing torn, Watertight doors ripped off. railings smashed hairline cracks found in hull.Master requested to go to Sydney company said to go to Melbourne which would have been an additional 2 days Sydney won as boilermakers on strike in Melbourne. Crew greatly relieved. Another time leaving Adelaide storm valves did not seat properly and started to take water on vehicle deck went into steering flat and put out one of the steering motors so back to Adelaide. She had flume tanks for stability. In Dunedin these kept pumping and it was virtualy the mooring lines that held her up. This is but a few of the joys we had to put up with. This vessel had 2 crews. Worked approx 2 weeks on 2 weeks off as it was a 2 week round trip. I unfortunately was in the crew that had to deal with all the problems. Other crew would join take her around to Evans bay for repairs bring her back to Taranaki Wharf load her and we would rejoin and take her to sea. Other crew I think did not have to go to sea for approx 189 days. THey were not to happy when they did and a few paid off . All in all a very unlucky vessel but a great crew.
Gary (Cloud)

21st May 2005, 12:23
I'm still going at a greater age despite trying to keep my looks (and my hair!).
I can give more details on the Speedlink Vanguard as I am in contact with the Sealink superintendant on duty that night. I know that a contributary factor was not appreciating the effect of strong wind whilst rounding the buoy to enter the main channel.
Photo of European Gateway prior to the accident.
Yes please David, I would be very interested in seeing more details of that incident. You can PM it to me if you wish.

Gary, very interesting account of your "adventures" on Union Wellington. It's a wonder they were ever able to keep any crew on her at all!

The attached photo by Doug Wright shows her in Otago Harbour.

5th June 2005, 10:40
A couple of photos of the storm damage mentioned by Zsimone in his post above.
He took these himself and I'm posting them on his behalf.

duncan montgomery
9th September 2005, 11:37
i did the delevery voyage of the union wellington joined her in bremhavem went across to flexstow and loaded cars and caravans for auckland via ponta delgado ,panama , tahiti in a heavy swell her anchors banged and made a hell of a noise we ended up sleeping in the caravans in bad weather regarding her bow door they welded lugs and we put bottle screws on them for the trip out.we were waiting in london to join her she was under the swedish flag but at the time if you flew the swedish flag you had to employ a percentish of swedish crew . they re registered her in london for the trip out the first night at sea in her there was a lot of noise from the deckheads in the accomadation upon taking all the deckheads down we found the ship yard workers had been putting their empty bear bottles in the drck head .a dog of a ship .

9th September 2005, 13:23
Welcome to the site zsimone, enjoy the site and allit has to offer.

J Boyde
5th January 2006, 09:33
One must wonder just how many chlorine containers had gotten loose, or lost over the side in the Tasman. Scary.
Jim B

10th March 2008, 03:16
I sailed on her in the early seventies John Harris was a bosun on her at the time. I remember spending a couple of nights sleeping in the crew bar because we were scared that she was going to turn turtle.