Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, who would look to have that ship at sea, as long as possible to
pay for her build costs and of course to make the company good profits.
To this end one company may have had no requirement for a particular ship after a time and would then sell her
on just like any other disposable commodity.
Hence a ship may have had a few owners and would go through many changes and names during what was
hoped for a long and successful working life.
The ice breaker BRANSFIELD was ordered by the NERC to be built at the Leith Shipyards of Robb Caledon and she was designed by the same Naval Architechs who designed the previous SPEEDWAY Ship No 507. She was in fact an ice strenghtend ship and not a pure ice breaker.
She was in the fitting out basin at the yard being finished when I started there, this basin was always at the same depth of water with the dock gates at Leith being in use by this time and it also meant that ships could be launched at Leith without needing to wait on the tide.
RRS Bransfield, 4816 grt (1577 tons net), was built at Leith, Scotland and launched on 4th September 1970. She is an ice strengthened cargo ship of Lloyds 100 A1 Ice Class 1 classification. Her length is 325 feet, beam 60 feet and draught 22 feet with a service speed of 13½ knots on two engines. She has a cargo capacity of 3450m3 with research laboratories and a conference and computer room. Her duties, following annual discharge of cargo at Halley, are to supply and transport cargo and personnel, insert coastal depots and support coastal survey and geological research parties principally in the region of the Antarctic Peninsula.
RRS Bransfield was BAS's main supply vessel for 29 years, from 1970/71 to 1998/99. She also had limited facilities for on-board research.
She was the second survey ship to be named after Edward Bransfield RN (1785-1852), who discovered the North West coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, roughly surveyed the South Shetland Islands, claiming King George Island and Clarence Island for Great Britain.
Edward Bransfield was the first man to chart part of the Antarctic mainland.
There was a fully equipped hospital bay on-board.
For much of her career her joint Masters were John Cole and Stewart Laurence. Bransfield represented NERC in the Review of the Fleet at Spithead in 1977, held to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Jubilee.
RRS BRANSFIELD is shown here in dry dock at Bethlehem Shipyard, Baltimore. During her Atlantic crossing from Southampton to North America in 1974, prior to heading south to Antarctica, hurricane force winds damaged her rudder post. She remained in dry dock for 3 weeks whilst repairs were undertaken.
This photograph shows the shape of her raked stem, shaped to aid getting through the ice.
(Photograph by Clive Sweetingham and shown here with his permission)
The BRANSFIELD or Branny as the men and women who sailed on her used to call her was a special ship designed and built for special work in some of the toughest weather conditions in the World.
The ravages of the Southern Oceans could batter a less well equipped ship into an early visit to the breakers yard as had been see a few years earlier when two ex Robb ships working with the New Zealand Navy as weather/look out ships for aircraft going to Antarctica found out. After a few years in the conditions found down there the Loch Class ships had so much damage done to their hulls that they were removed from service.
BRANSFIELD arrives at Maggies Ditch in Antarctica
(Photo by Greame Hart and shown here with permission)
We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.