Commander Walter Hansen attended the DSEi exhibition in London in September 2013 along with his, then yet-to-be-commissioned ship, Holland class patrol vessel HNLMS Groningen. Patrick Boniface caught up with Commander Hansen to talk about his ship and his career.
When did you join the Dutch Navy?
I joined in 1985 at the Royal Naval College as a midshipman and I graduated in 1988, although my family has no maritime background. I did my tour on ships as Officer of the Watch and Air Defence, which included serving on the frigate HNLMS Callenburgh and the minesweeper HNLMS Hoogeveen. I did more tours as Operations Officer on the frigate HNLMS Piet Heyn, the air defence frigate HNLMS Jacob Van Heemskerck and as Executive Officer of the multi-purpose frigate HNLMS Van Ness.
What is it like to be in command of such a modern and capable warship?
I feel privileged to be in charge of such a ship. It is not just the ship, but a combination of the crew and the ship. You can always have a good ship, but you also need a good crew, and we have a dedicated group who make the picture complete.
Peter Newall talks to the master of Saga Ruby, Captain Wesley Dunlop, who is one of the youngest ship captains.
Where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in the small Scottish town of Bothwell in 1980. At an early age I moved with my family to Mallorca, spending a short while there before returning to the UK and finally settling on the outskirts of Newcastle.
Do you come from a seafaring family?
My father was a marine engineer with Esso tankers and also worked for Swan Hunter on the Tyne.
Did you want to go to sea?
When I left school I wanted to be an airline pilot. However, when I found out that the British Airways pilot training programme had relatively few placements each year, my father suggested a career in the merchant navy. In 1998 I commenced my four-year training at South Shields Marine College near Newcastle. Initially, I thought about following in my father’s footsteps at Esso. However, I was accepted as a cadet by Sun Cruises, a subsidiary of the UK holiday company Airtours, which was later rebranded MyTravel. It had a fleet of four well-known, mid-size former NCL and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
Alan Moorhouse talked to Captain Tony Yeomans, master of Crown Princess, during a Baltic capitals cruise, about his career at sea, current issues in the cruise ship industry, and his current charge. This year is Captain Yeomans’ last before he retires at the end of a long and distinguished career extending over 46 years, all with ships in the P&O group.
How did your career start?
My family originate from Derbyshire and had little association with anything seafaring. My fascination with ships and the idea of a career at sea began as a result of a coach holiday to Southampton. I visited the docks and watched the ships sailing out of port. I vividly remember the Cunard liners and ships of Shaw Savill, Palm Line, Union Castle and of course the ships of P&O.
How did your career develop?
My career with P&O began in 1967. My first ship was Maloja (1959/17,763gt) with Trident Tankers, a P&O subsidiary. In 1971 I transferred to the P&O Passenger Division and was sent to the Far East on the cargo ship Pando Gulf (1953). In 1972 I moved to the passenger ships of the fleet. The first was Orient Lines’ Orsova, which sailed from Southampton to Sydney and then undertook a number of Pacific voyages before returning to the UK. I served on other P&O passenger vessels in the 1970s, including Himalaya (1949) and Arcadia (1954).
When did you become master?
I was a chief officer for 15 years on several P&O ships, including Victoria (1966), Uganda (1952) and Canberra. Following the merger of P&O and Princess Cruises in the 1970s, I had assignments alternating between ships of the two companies. I spent six and a half years aboard the first Sun Princess (1972) and two years aboard Royal Princess (1984). I also spent time aboard Pacific Princess (1971) and sistership Island Princess (1972/19,907gt). I became Staff Captain in 1992 and served aboard Island Princess and later Royal Princess, Dawn Princess (1997), Sea Princess, Pacific Princess, Canberra and Victoria. My first ship as Captain was Pacific Princess. I have since been Captain on half the current Princess Cruises fleet.
With the recent announcement of Cunard’s two special events in 2015 to be held in its spiritual home of Liverpool in celebration of the company’s 175th anniversary, Captain Christopher Rynd, master of Queen Mary 2, talks to Byron Clayton about his career and the ship he now commands while crossing the Atlantic westbound.
When did you first go to sea?
In 1970, at the age of 17, right after high school, with the Union Steamship company of New Zealand. My father was a navy man and things at home were referred to in nautical terms. After completing my cadetship I joined Oronsay, my first passenger ship, in 1974 as a junior third officer keeping watch.
When did you become a captain?
I received my Master’s Certificate in 1979 from the City of London Nautical College. In 2000 I received my first permanent command on board the 1984-built Royal Princess, operated by Princess Cruises. I moved from Princess to Cunard in 2005 to take command of Queen Elizabeth 2. My first command of Queen Mary 2 came in 2006, although I was involved with the construction of Queen Victoria in the interim and had a short stint back aboard Artemis (previously Royal Princess and my first command). In April 2011 I was appointed Commodore of Cunard Line.
What adjustment did you make coming to Queen Mary 2?
Apart from size, these bigger ships are so much easier to handle than the older, smaller ones. QE2 was a very difficult ship to manoeuvre, and the instrumentation was so basic that you really had to do it by eye. QE2 would do really well in a straight line but she would give a lot of trouble when you needed to manoeuvre. There were times when you would put the rudder hard over and the engines full ahead and nothing would happen. QE2 also had very weak bow thrusters, a single rudder and her propellers turned inward, which meant you had no coupling force when going one ahead and one astern.
Captain Phillip Dieckmann, master of the luxury adventure cruising ship Expedition, owned by GAdventures, spoke to Steve Newman about his career and current command.
Are you from a seafaring family?
No, not at all. I grew up in East Berlin and left school when I was 16, got a job as a car mechanic and then completed my military service. And I only joined the East German Marine to get out of East Germany. I worked as a deck hand and got my AB licence and Ships mechanic licence. When the Berlin Wall came down it allowed me to travel the world and seek other shipping work. I first went to sea aged 22 on board the general cargo ship Frankfurt Oder. I later worked on a car ferry as Second Officer and then as Chief Mate on a container ship operated by Columbia Shipping Line from Cyprus.
When did you join the Adventure Cruise industry?
I started working on small expedition vessels In 1999 and became Chief Officer on Clipper Cruise Line in 2001. I worked for Lindblad expeditions from 2007 to 2009, and started working for GExpeditions on Expedition in 2013.
What specialist knowledge do you need to work on this ship?
You must have some experience of ice and be prepared to be entirely flexible when visiting areas that are not that well charted, and be prepared to do your own charts and soundings and also use celestial navigation. The adventure cruising side takes you to both poles and anywhere between. You have to expect the unexpected and be cautious towards the weather, especially so in Antarctica.