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M.V. Southsea.

M.V. Southsea.

Southsea laid up at Portsmouth. Brading moored on the outside. Brading had been laid up with reversing gear and clutch trouble.

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Lovely photo!! and thank you for sharing with us all, the board on the stern of 'Southsea' says 'Keep Clear of Propellers' on 'Brading' the board was the same, but the wording was different, it said 'Keep off Propellers'. Also in the photo 'The Foudroyant' up the harbour, (off Burrow 'Rat' Island), or 'Ratty'.
 

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I recall a report in one of the monthly magazines about the introduction of the fast cats to the service at this time. Apparently, they were struggling to cope with the passenger numbers, and Southsea was called into operation. She took most of the waiting passengers at Portsmouth on her first loading, and the back log was cleared in very short time. Why British Ferries never invested in them to keep them running, I will never know.
 

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Another thing they could have done was build modern replacements, that were a modern design of 'The Brading' & 'The Southsea' version, Gosport Ferry have done this, their 'The Spirit of Portsmouth' is a modern, updated version of 'The Solent Enterprise', had 'The Enterprise' been built now and not in 1971, then you can imagine she would have looked like 'Spirit'. 'The Spirit of Gosport' is clearly a modern version of 'The Gosport Queen' & 'The Portsmouth Queen'. The 'cats' were not a good replacement, I remember the bad verbal press they got from passengers, "can't sit out on top deck anymore", "can't buy any tea or coffee and sandwiches on board now" etc etc.
 

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problem was though, Sealink were loosing money and those ferries were not economic especially outside of the peak season. To be honest as much as I hate to say this, the days of leisurely sailings has gone, people are in a hurry all the time.
 

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It's very true that "market conditions" altered from when these vessels were originally designed. Their purpose was to rapidly move trainloads of passengers from Portsmouth Harbour Station to the I.o.W. With numbers dropping, a smaller vessel would make more sense, but those cats were the wrong choice. At the time I saw them, it was felt that one could be kept running and used to help out when demand was there. But Sealink had, by then, sold the best of the trio, probably because they could get more money for the Shanklin. The Denny archives record that Shanklin was to built as a repeat of the first two, but with special attention paid to reducing noise and vibration. Due to other economies, Brading and Southsea both needed work to get them through their next surveys, and Brading had that mechanical trouble to fix, too. She had been cannibalised to keep Southsea going.
At least we have lots of photos and memories to look back on!
 

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"Shanklin " wasn't quite a repeat - at least in the machinery dept. "Brading" and "Southsea" had Swiss built uni-directional Sulzers and SLM reversing gearboxes. Foreign exchange restrictions ruled out this arrangement for "Shanklin". Denny had licences for the Sulzer engines but no British manufacturer had licences to build the gearboxes. Denny consequently built direct-reversing machines for "Shanklin".
 

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Many thanks eddyw.
Denny also built direct reversing Sulzers for the General Steam passenger and cargo vessels, so had the expertise. Strange they weren't installed in Brading and Southsea. Regarding the repairs needed to the gearbox in Brading, spares were unavailable, and there was only one machine shop in the UK that might have been able to machine replacement parts for the clutches.
Regards.
 

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