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The Full Story

Miranda was acquired by the Board of Trade in April 1970 as a result of the recommendations of the Holland Martin Committee of Enquiry into the safety at sea of British distant water trawlers.

Miranda as Albatross

She was built in Sweden in 1942 as a four masted topsail schooner named Albatross and sailed as such with distinction, as a round the world sail training ship and oceanographical survey vessel. In 1967 she was sold and converted to a cargo vessel and renamed Donna under the Panamanian flag. In 1969 she was again sold and became Dorothea.

In 1970 the Board of Trade converted her to play a trawler support role and she sailed for her first winter operation in the November of that year. Ellerman's Wilson line of Hull were given the task of managing and manning the vessel but her masters were appointed by H.M. Coastguard.

Commander David Roberts

The vessel’s role was to provide meterological, medical and technical support to the distant water fishing fleet.

Command of the vessel was initially exercised alternately between Captain Emden, and Commander Adams. In 1972 Commander Roberts succeeded Captain Emden and in 1974 Commander Adams swallowed the anchor and his place was filled by borrowing a succession of masters including Geoff Hammond and Jim Neill, both from HMCG, and others from MAFF, to alternate with David Roberts.

In 1976 Peter Murray was recruited from MAFF where by this time he had considerable experience as a support commander in the MAFF vessels, and he and David Roberts shared the command of the vessel alternatively.

Miranda in Reykjavik Harbour

During Miranda’s first two winter operations the masters found that she had some very bad sea-keeping qualities in the adverse weather conditions in which she was required to operate.

A professional study of these was carried out by the National Physical Laboratory as a result of which a new steering engine was designed and her bilge keels were extended and deepened, and she became a very comfortable ship.

She was always underpowered, however, in that she could never make much headway when stemming gales in excess of force nine.

To a certain extent this deficiency was overcome by whenever possible, deploying the vessel to windward of the trawlers she was supporting so that at the onset of foul weather she could always run before the wind and reach any vessel which required assistance in the savage weather frequently encountered in Arctic waters.

This lack of power was a continual source of worry to Miranda’s masters and the bogey of a lee shore was never far from their thoughts so that they were for ever looking over their shoulder for sea room or shelter.

In storms of greater intensity than force ten, not infrequent in these waters, the vessel would be hove to but occasionally she would fall off the wind and broach; a frightening situation which could only be rectified by diligence and prayer on the part of the master.

Miranda’s first appearance on the Icelandic grounds was greeted with some incredulity and a great deal of suspicion on the part of the skippers.

Incredulity because of her lack of speed, and suspicion because they feared encroachment by a government agency on their fierce independence.

There were many uncomplimentary remarks overheard on the air about the ship in the early days. Nevertheless, with patience, a willingness to help, and a dedication to the job by all on board, goodwill and a mutual respect was eventually achieved and this was to flourish ever since.

Full Story Page 2.

Miranda as Albatross

Commander David Roberts

Miranda in Reykjavic Harbour

Seasick? Typical weather in Arctic waters