Unit History: Bibby Bulk Carriers
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WESTMINSTER BRIDGE was built in 1968 by Lithgows Ltd at Port Glasgow with a tonnage of 42202grt, a length of 805ft, a beam of 105ft 5in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Pacific Bridge she was launched on 19th September 1967 and delivered to Watts, Watts & Co.’s Britain Steam Ship Co. for charter to the Seabridge Consortium. Bibby’s took the company over in 1968 and with it came the Pacific Bridge. She was replaced by the English Bridge in 1973 and sold to Proteus Shipping Co. of Monrovia and renamed Proteus. In 1985 she was acquired by Philippine President Lines Inc. of Manila, renamed President Roxas and, after a further five years service broken up in 1990.
WILTSHIRE was built in 1968 by Swan, Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd at Hebburn-on-Tyne with a tonnage of 10036grt, a length of 497ft 8in, a beam of 70ft 2in and a service speed of 16 knots. Launched on 16th April 1968 and delivered in the following September she was immediately chartered to George Gibson & Co. and had been built to their specification. She was Bibby’s first liquid gas carrier for propane, butane or anhydrous ammonia and her hull was doubled around the tanks which were suspended in expanded polyurethane foam as protection against leakage. Her maiden voyage for George Gibson & Co., part of the Runciman Group, was from the Tyne to Houston, Texas. In 1984 she was chartered to I. C. I. Australia and flew the Australian flag. She came off charter and reverted to Bibby’s in 1989. In 1991 management of her was transferred to Bibby International Services (IOM) Ltd under the ownership of Bibby Transport Ltd. She was sold to Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Co. of Bahrain in 1995 and renamed Zallaq. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.
OCEAN BRIDGE/GLOUCESTERSHIRE (3) was built in 1970 by Sumitomo Shipbuilding and Machinery Co. at Yokosuka with a tonnage of 66057grt, a length of 849ft 10in, a beam of 134ft 1in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. Bibby’s first OBO (ore, bulk, oil) carrier she was launched on 21st November 1969 and delivered in the following March for charter to the Seabridge Consortium. On 8th March 1971, during a voyage from Rotterdam and Pepel, she stopped off the coast of Spain to assist the British Tanker Co.’s British Comet which was taking water in her engine room. As the Ocean Bridge stood by there was an explosion in her No.9 hold which destroyed her pumproom and blew a hole in the starboard side forward of the bridge the size of a tennis court. A resulting fire destroyed the bridge superstructure and on 19th March she was towed into Huelva by the tugs, Pacific and Heros, both owned by Bugsier and Smit’s Hudson. On 25th April she arrived under tow in Gibraltar Roads where she was patched up and sent to Marseilles for dock repairs. She was subsequently towed to Scott Lithgow Drydocks Ltd at Glasgow where she arrived in the October to have her after section rebuilt. The repair which cost ?2,500,000 was reputed to be the most expensive on a British merchant ship. In 1977 she was renamed Gloucestershire and in the following year sold to Sevenseas Navigation Transport Inc. of Monrovia who renamed her Oceanic Victory. She was owned by Chiu Lung Investments of Monrovia in 1984 who sold her to the Chinese Petroleum Corp. of Taiwan. Renamed Ocean Victory she was transferred to the Chinese Maritime Transport co. of Taipei who changed her name to China Victory. On 17th July 1986 she sailed from Tubarao bound for Kaohsuing where she arrived in the October to be broken up.
AUSTRALIAN BRIDGE/SOMERSETSHIRE (2) was built in 1973 by Sumitomo Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Yokosuka with a tonnage of 78257grt, a length of 872ft 9in, a beam of 144ft 7in and a service speed of 15.5 knots. An OBO carrier she was launched for Bibby Bulk Carriers Ltd in January 1973, placed under the management of Bibby Bros. & Co. and chartered to the Seabridge Consortium. When her charter to Seabridge Shipping Co. ended in 1977 she was renamed Somersetshire. In the following year she was sold to Eddie Steam Ship Co. and renamed Enterprise Transporter. She was sold on to Atlantic Combination Carriers Ltd of London and then transferred to Cast Combination Carriers Ltd. in 1979 when her name was changed to Cast Puffin. Four years later she was purchased initially by Ivorush Ltd. and then by Chili Ship Holding Ltd who renamed her Chili. In 1986 she was acquired by Lexvale Ltd of Hong Kong who changed her name to Danmark and who, in the following year, sold her to K/S Finans-Invest VI A/S of Norway who renamed her Norman Hunter. After four years she was purchased by Ridgeway Maritime Inc. of Andros who reregistered her as the Leon. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)
BERKSHIRE was built in 1970 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 19061grt, a length of 598ft 9in, a beam of 86ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. She was launched on 24th November 1969 and delivered to Bibby Freighters Ltd in September 1970. The first of a trio of ships, she was built as a car carrier with six removable decks which, when not in use, were stowed in container-like guides on the weather deck either side of the hatches. All of her 7 holds were strengthened for the carriage of ore and her wing tanks alternated between water (1, 2, 6, 7) and grain (3, 4, 5). When rigged as a car carrier she had capacity for 1900 medium sized cars. On completion she was, with her sisters, placed on a five year charter carrying cars between Japan and the USA and bulk cargoes on the return voyage. She was displaced by purpose built ro-ro car carriers in 1979 and converted into a bulk carrier only. She was Bibby’s last dry cargo carrier. In November 1983 she was sold to Takoradi Shipping Co. of Limassol. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)
CHESHIRE (4) was built in 1971 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 19061grt, a length of 598ft 9in, a beam of 86ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Berkshire she was launched on 3rd September 1971 for the British Steamship Co. and delivered in January 1971. In June 1972, during a voyage from Hampton Roads to Yokohama, she had an explosion in a mast house which killed one and injured two crew members. With her sister she was converted into a bulk carrier during 1979 and in 1983 was sold to Ambersley Ocean S. A. of Panama who renamed her Maria. In 1985 her name was changed to Miss Maria when she was sold to Erotocritos Shipping Co. of Limassol. On 18th February 1986 she was laid up in the River Fal, supposedly under the care of Shipping & Produce Ltd of London, and returned to service in 1987. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.
OXFORDSHIRE (3) was built in 1971 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a tonnage of 19061grt, a length of 598ft 9in, a beam of 86ft 7in and a service speed of 16 knots. Sister of the Berkshire she was launched on 14th December 1970 and delivered in the following May. She remained with Bibby’s until 1978 when she was sold before conversion to Marsenorio Armadora S. A. of Piraeus who renamed her Georgios Tsakiroglou for management by Cia Naviera S. A. She was sold to Pericles Marine Co. of Limassol in 1985, placed under the management of Navipower Cia Nav. and renamed Georgios T. In 1994 she acquired by Delcando Shipping Co. of Limassol who changed her name to Mike K. Current records indicate that she has either changed owners again or been broken up.
HEREFORDSHIRE (3) was built in 1972 by Doxford & Sunderland Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Sunderland with a