Water salute, cannon fire and confetti mark emotional send off for RMS St Helena

Rob Powell News 2 Comments

ROYAL Mail Ship St Helena departed Tilbury this afternoon in an emotional farewell which featured a water salute from two tugs, cannon fire from Tilbury and an explosion of colourful confetti.

Heavy rain and the sound of distant thunder threatened to spoil the send off but the bad weather eased off just enough to allow spectators to watch as the last working Royal Mail ship set off.

RMS St Helena, conducting farewell voyages this year, arrived on the Thames on the 5th June and her stay included several days alongside HMS Belfast in the Upper Pool where she was visited by Princess Anne.

Late last week the ship moved back down to Tilbury where she was opened to ticketed visitors on Saturday.

The vessel has been a lifeline to St Helena for 26 years but is being retired with a new airport due to have come into operation although the £295million facility has had its opening postponed because of wind shear problems.

Photos of RMS St Helena's Farewell

Two Svitzer tugs assisted RMS St Helena away from Tilbury landing stage and then provided a water salute.

Svitzer Bootle fires water in to the air

The farewell took place on a grey, rainy afternoon.

Confetti is fired from cannon

People on the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry watch the spectacle

RMS ST Helena is expected to call at Tenerife before returning to St Helena

Video of RMS ST Helena's final farewell

Buy a copy of a photo from this post as a digital file or print

Comments 2

  1. Sad to see her go, but since this was the second “last voyage” on which I sailed I am hopeful that she will remain in service for some time. I look forward to the 30 years voyage!
    I doubt if any airliner will generate the same affection. In spite of a few problems she is an excellent ship, with a wonderful loyal , hard working and efficient crew, who are very much a family.
    I am sure that Andrew Weir’s new cargo ship will serve St Helena Island just as faithfully.

  2. Having only just recently met neighbours here in London who originated from this island who in my stigmatising are wonderful I decided to do a little research. Reading your article I am saddened by this news and cannot envisage that an aeronautical alternative will be as reliable or as cost effective. After so many years of loyal service I hope you and your crew long continue this journey.

    More deeply saddening too is the fact that this hasn’t been in the mainstream national media, I am disappointed that something so significant with our ties to part of the commonwealth hasn’t even been discussed.

    I wish you and your crew, and the people of St Helena all the very best for the future.


    Mark Stimson

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