Seaforth Clansman

Posted: 25 August, 2010 by SeaBart in ugly
Tags: ,

Picture by Harry Stott, via

Seaforth Clansman

IMO : 7406021

Build : 1977 by Cochrane and Sons – Selby in the UK, nr 1574

We have seen quit a few silly mast-designs on her but I think this one is topping the charts. If you were a mate on this vessel you surely weren’t too happy with all the blindspots caused by the revolutionary design of that “Fire-Fighting Monitor Mast-Thingy” aka FFMMT.

The rest of the vessel is quit ordinary BTW as visible on this (a bit blurry) picture, please notice the owners did have the “good” taste to put anchor-racks (AKA cowcatchers – I haven’t found out yet how to catch cows @ sea. ;-D ) on her.

Dunno source, via the Interwebs

Years & years later somebody, somewhere had a brain wave and had that FFMMT removed …….and replaced it with a helicopter-deck. Good move, as everybody knows Helicopter decks are the latest fashion in the offshore industry and you have to have one to be part of the in-crowd.

Unfortunately the conversion from FFMMT to helideck did not do anything at all to improve her looks.

She is called St Barbara now, maybe because the owner is a hugh fan of the television-series with the same-ish name??



  1. Ian G Johnson says:

    What on earth are you talking about?
    This vessel had the capability of tackling major rig fires head on with full view and control from the bridge. As a Naval Architect I worked on the design of this vessel and carried out supervision of the sea and river trials and the Fi-Fi gantry was not a problem!
    What you have to remember that no one was rescued by helicopter from the rig during the Piper Alpha tradgedy.

  2. Jonathan Cooke says:

    This ship was an amazing vessel helping to train Royal Navy SBS the history of this boat is incredable RIP Capt John Ritchie

  3. Barry says:

    She was the sister ship to the Seaforth Conqueror which my father was master of for quite a few years. Apparently the Conqueror was already built and the Clansman was to be an identical copy when the requirement for the Clansman to become a dive boat became clear so the changes were made to her design either immediately prior to.or during build. E.g. extra sections to lengthen her etc. I remember seeing her once or twice, though curiously never in Aberdeen and though I never thought her a beautiful ship, ugly is a bit much.

  4. John Sabourn says:

    I was mate on her for 4 happy years when she was on charter to the Admiralty, the 4 happiest years of a 49 year sea-going career. Would have spent all my life there if was possible. John Sabourn

  5. David Oliver says:

    I was a techie with Naval Party 1007 and was on board Seaforth Clansman for four years. She had a distinguished career with the Royal Navy, undertaking many interesting projects. Concur comments above re. John Richie.

  6. Bob Mackay says:

    I too spent 4 glorious years as a Techie with Navy party 1007 1982-1986. Although I did not serve with David Oliver.( I replaced Tony Wilsher.) I was onboard the hyperbaric lifeboat when we ran aground in the Kyles of Lochalsh and had to evacuate the divers from Sat. Luckily no harm came to the divers. I too remember Capt. John Ritchie and concur with all comments made.

  7. David Oliver says:

    Bob, thanks for your comments. I was the first dive system electronics techie (POREL) when Naval Party 1007 was formed. in 1978. I left in Sept 1981. I had the updated cctv and other monitoring systems installed as initially the dive system electrics were very basic. George Down and Tony W were the other 2 techies. My shore time was short lived as I ended up on the Coventry job in the Falklands. No scary moments like yours in the Kyle thank goodness. We even ventured to the Med once, but had to beat a hasty retreat as the main umbilical went T Up.

  8. Richard Castle says:

    Did a few “trials” on her with submersible craft as well as training Naval CD’s in the 80s.. Nice billet good food and a very stable 4-point moor which was good for a force 8-just… We also had an A frame on her arse fitted for some of our work…. Who dropped the nut for it in Falmouth docks just before sailing?

    I loved the lines of her… A proper working vessel but I didn’t like the helo-deck….. It must have affected forward vis…. She went aground after it was fitted I believe….

    Many happy memories of her… I just don’t know why we couldn’t use the moon-pool though….

  9. Andy Moir says:

    Good to hear these very good comments and people respect Capt John Richie. I sailed on board Seaforth Clansman when Bob / George and Tony were there a lot of good time were had.

  10. I was fortunate to be posted to her by Oceaneering and did extensive yard work preparing her saturation diving system. We could not have had a better ships crew in support of our diving crew.
    After we launched and did sea trials, I was crew in the first ever sataturation dive on her and was VERY saddened that the Royal Navy took her over.
    I fondly remember our first water cannon demonstration off Aberdeen.
    The fire fighting demo was aimed at a 700 Series Sedco rig.
    When the monitors were turned on and trained on the rig, several panels covering the drill rig were carried away. Quite impressive demo!
    What a great ship and crew!
    BTW, the monitor tower presented no visual impairment to the bridge crew. Think the author should check his or her facts before criticizing such an awesome vessel!

  11. David Hutchinson says:

    Question for Bob Mackay. Was the SPHL locked back on? Did all work as per plan? Were the divers OK in it during and after the launch/recovery?

  12. John Nicholson says:

    I was I the chief engineer on the claimsman for 10 years was lmost 40 years t sea sailed with Andy Moyà John Richie John Saebourne Brian Hersey Ron Tuion and many more We done A fantastic variety of tasks some too said to mention Had a great crew John Nicholson

  13. Tom Bootyman says:

    I worked on this ship when it was being fitted out in Alexandra dock in Hull in 1977. I was a student doing a summer labouring job. The guys from Cochrane’s in Selby came by coach every day. I was slightly frightened of them. They used the word “Wesley” as a swear word!

  14. Richard McKenzie George says:

    My Dad was heavily involved in the design of this ship, he was Bill George, technical director at Cochrane’s. I remember him coming home from work and telling me that it had to be cut in half to insert a diving bell and pool after the hull had already been completed. I sailed down the Ouse from Selby to the Humber on her prior to fitting out. She only just got around a few of the bends in the river. I was also at the naming ceremony in Aberdeen in 1977. This was always my favourite of my ‘Dad’s’ ships and I used to call it the Scharnhorst as it was so big and solid. To call it ugly is an insult to all who worked at Cochrane’s Selby and Seaforth Marine in Aberdeen. I have very happy memories of this ship, Cochrane’s and my late father.

  15. JOHN W ELSY says:

    hi there, I wonder if anyone can help (I realise this is an old topic) but here goes…. I am busy building a model of Seaforth now and would like to know exactly when the helideck was fitted, was it still on Lease to Royal Navy with the helideck fitted? here’s hoping someone can help.

  16. Michael Stalker says:

    I was the Radio Officer when she came out and the early years of her naval career doing turn about with others

  17. Chris Cadby says:

    I was the PORel on Clansman 1982-1985, served with Bob Mackay and hydraulic George. As far as I remember the helipad and hyperbaric lifeboat were fitted at Immingham circa 1984, definitely when still on charter to the Navy.

  18. Raymond Donald McCrohon Master says:

    She was a good reliable ship with a fine crew. The visibility from the bridge was perfectly adequate.
    She was an efficient tool, not a bloody yacht! A Merchant Navy crew ran the vessel for the MOD(N),
    charterers. The relationship was good, with respect and comradeship shared.

  19. lee says:

    If any of you guys above are interested, i have a professionally built scale model of her in my possession which i presume the owners had built alongside the full scale version.
    I am a Commercial diver and believe it or not, i found it in a bin waiting to be dumped.
    I would be willing to sell it if anyone is interested.
    Supply me an E-mail and i can send pictures if anyone is interested.

    You can contact me on 07398 198088

  20. Ben Hersey says:

    My late Father Brian Hersey was the Master for several years in the 80’s…. I hold precious childhood memories of this ship and visited it many times…. The food was excellent and I remember eating steak, lobster (at the Captains Table) and my first ever Black Forest Gateaux aboard…! I remember the diving bell, control room, hyperbaric lifeboat, gymnasium under the rear deck, the bridge and the controls for the water cannons…! I nearly sunk a small trawler on a RN Day with my family in the Solent… I was playing with the joysticks for the water cannons and tracked one across to starboard when they were in full display mode, nearly spraying (and sinking…!) a small trawler that was going across our bow. I think the emergency stop button was pressed and the Clansman ‘lurched’ forward as the reverse pressure of the cannons we relieved….. This was shortly before an RAF Battle of Britain Fly Past…. Great memories for a 9yr old lad…! Brian was unfortunate enough to be the master whilst in Falmouth when the BA Sikorsky helicopter crashed on the way to the Scillies (1983.?)…. I remember his horrific stories of the recovery of the wreck on deck… bless all involved…. Already mentioned here was the grounding in the Kyla Loch Alsh….. I believe the master was John De Barr (i think that was his name)..? Somewhere I remember seeing a very funny photo of the crew, standing on the said rock (now exposed by low water), the crew all pushing on the bow if the Clansman (giant turnip style)… Has anyone got a photo of this…? I would love to see it……. My dad maybe has one in his shoe box somewhere…. 🙂 I will try and dig out some Clansman photos and post there….

    Ben 07880 937681

  21. Maurice Lee says:

    I was 2nd engineer from 82-86 and I was on watch in the engine room when we went aground at the Kyle of lochalsh. The best 4 years of 40 years in the MN.

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