Ships Monthly Magazine


Commander Ben Ripley

Commander Ben Ripley

The Type 23 frigate HMS Kent emerged from a multi-million pound upgrade at Rosyth towards the end of 2011 and Patrick Boniface met up with her commanding officer, Commander Ben Ripley, when the frigate visited her namesake county, to discuss his career and his command.


Why did you choose a career in the Royal Navy?
I have no naval background at all, but it seemed to be something different, enjoyable and fun. I went into the Navy straight after leaving college, having done my A levels, and I was then into the Navy at 18. It was about getting out and seeing the world, which is what I did. I’ve been all around the world with the Navy, and seen pretty much everywhere apart from Australia.

What is the attraction of a life at sea for you?
I don’t really know. I just enjoy being there and in command, which is what every warfare officer joins the navy to do, I think – I know I certainly did. All the other jobs, while they’re great in themselves, are leading towards it and gaining experience so it’s all part of the process of learning. There’s a real satisfaction in a job well done at sea where you’re on your own and relying on your ship. And the ship is very capable, but you certainly have to mould what you do and how you use it to every situation. I think that is the challenge.


Roger Corfield, Captain of the Harwich-Hook of Holland superferry Stena Britannica

Captain Roger Corfield

As a follow-up to the special feature marking Stena Line’s 50th anniversary in the last issue, Nicholas Leach talked to Roger Corfield, Captain of the Harwich-Hook of Holland superferry Stena Britannica.


When did you first go to sea?  
On 19 June 1969 on board the product tanker Athelduchess with Athel Line Ltd, a subsidiary of Tate and Lyle. I boarded her at North Shields and we went to Antwerp, and then on to the United States via Japan. I worked with Athel Line until 1975, travelling round the world, picking up cargoes as and when we could at any port.

After Athel Line what was your next move?
I continued working on cargo ships with Blue Star Line; Southland Star was my first Blue Star ship, and we went to Australia with general cargo. I left Blue Star in 1982 having served on the refrigerated cargo ships and the box boats, including ACT 4 and ACT 5, as well as the heavy lift ship Starman America going up the Great Lakes as well as northern France, picking up very specialised cargo. I also worked on Lamport and Holt ships, as well as Booth Line, going up the Amazon with general cargo.

Master Captain Roy Love

Master Captain Roy Love

The Tall Ships organisation annually takes hundreds of youngsters afloat for what is likely to be their first taste of life at sea, and during a trip they can learn valuable life skills. Patrick Boniface caught up with relief Master Captain Roy Love on board the tall ship Stavros S. Niarchos at the Southampton Boat Show.

How did you start your career at sea?
I started with the Royal Naval Reserve in the late 1970s and left in 1994 during one of the big shake-ups. I was working in mine countermeasures and the Navy got rid of their mine countermeasures facility, so I then signed up as a volunteer with the Tall Ships and became a navigator, which was basically an unpaid volunteer role which I undertook for several years. I went to Merchant Navy School and got my Captain’s qualification and then started working as a relief boatswain. I gradually worked my way up through Third, Second and Chief until I became a master about six or seven years ago. Now I am the relief master for the ship.

Why did you choose a career in the Royal Navy?
My family were all in the Royal Navy. We have medals going back to the siege of Sebastopol in the mid-19th century, so there’s a long family history of service in the Navy. I started with the Ton class vessels Walkerton and Nurton, and then was involved in trialling some Suffolk class vessels, which were basically converted trawlers, and I was part of the trials team. Then we worked on the River class and I was attached to HMS Arun for a time.

Scott M. Davis

Scott M. Davis

Scott M. Davis, Master of the cargo vessel Pennsylvania, talks about his career, his ship and working for the ship’s owner Crowley Petroleum Services.


When did you start your career?
I started my seagoing career in 1999 after I graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy.  

What was the first ship you served on?
The first ship I ever worked on was Coastal Eagle Point, a vessel in the US Jones Act trade. The Jones Act requires all commercial vessels that transport domestic cargoes between ports in the United States to be built, owned, operated and manned by US citizens and to be registered under the US flag. Crowley owns and operates more than 200 Jones Act vessels for a wide variety of customers.  

How did your career progress?
My first seagoing job was as an able-bodied seaman. Soon after, I was promoted to third mate and began to make my way up the ranks. All it takes is time, patience and a lot of hard work, but the results are worthwhile.  

What was your first command?
My first command was on the tanker Blue Ridge, a now-retired, US-flagged, Crowley-operated cargo vessel that was employed to transport petroleum products in US coastwise trades.

What other ships have you served on?
I have served on the following vessels: Coastal Eagle Point, Courier, Chemical Explorer, Blue Ridge, Evergreen State (Crowley managed), Coast Range, ATB 750-1/Legacy, ATB 750-2/Legend, and Pennsylvania.

Captain Peter Holt

Captain Peter Holt

To introduce our fantastic P&O Ferries competition, found on page 65, Captain Peter Holt, senior master of the Hull-Rotterdam Europoort multi-purpose ferry Pride of Hull, talked to Nicholas Leach about his career at sea and his ship.


When did you start at sea?
I went to sea aged 16 and did a four-year apprenticeship with Ocean Transport and Trading. The first ship that I served on was the general cargo ship Mano running to West Africa. Starting in 1974, I did my cadetship and gained my second mate’s ticket when I was 20.

What were the first ships you served on?
I served on most of the Ocean Transport ships, spending the most time on Barber Blue Sea ro-ros going around the world. I usually joined the ships in America and then went to the Middle East, to the West Coast of the USA, and then back to the US Eastern Seaboard via the Panama Canal. That round trip took 90 days, and we were carrying containers and ro-ro cargo. The ships had huge ramps and could carry tracked vehicles, diggers and cars, as well as yachts and pretty much everything. They included Barber Priam, Barber Persius and Barber Hector.


Captain Vincent Smit

Captain Vincent Smit

The master of the cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam, Captain Vincent Smit, talks to Ted Scull during a transatlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon

Is there a seafaring tradition in your family?
Yes, on my father’s side, there were officers who worked for KNSM, the Royal Netherlands Steamship Company of Amsterdam.

When did you go to sea and why?
At first I wanted to be an airline pilot, but there is a similar relationship between flying a plane and manoeuvring a ship. I used to cycle to the port area to watch the shipping when we moved to Antwerp.

What was your schooling?
I went to nautical college at 16, studied for four years and then got my third mate’s licence. I had two years of sailing time with Chevron on board oil tankers to reach second mate, then moved up to chief officer and went back to school.

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