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Mentioned on these pages

Basically my wife was immature. I’d be at home in the bath and she’d come in and sink my boats.{c}

An index of ships and other vessels mentioned on these pages


Throughout the first 515 years of St Helena’s history ships were the only way to access St Helena. Even since the start of the scheduled commercial air service in 2017 ships still bring our supplies and many of our visitors still come by yacht or cruise ship, so ships and other vessels remain very important to St Helena.

Below are listed all the ships and other sea-going vessels mentioned elsewhere on this site, with the referring page indexed. Where a reference is to our page Chronology the data is in our Events Database.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.{d}

Ships of particular interest to St Helena are: ⋅ The Witte Leeuw ⋅ The HMS Waterwitch ⋅ The SS Papanui ⋅ The RFA Darkdale ⋅ The RMS St Helena (1978-1990) ⋅ The RMS St Helena (1990-2018) ⋅ Union Castle ships the Good Hope Castle, Pendennis Castle, Southampton Castle, Warwick Castle, and Windsor Castle

The Index

He who is master of the sea is master of world trade. And he who is master of world trade is master of the riches of the earth and of the earth itself.{e}

HMS Waterwitch

Monument, Castle Gardens
Monument, Castle Gardens

Brig Waterwitch, 1850
Brig Waterwitch, 1850{f}

The HMS Waterwitch played an important part in the interception of Slavers from 1840 until she was sunk during engagement with a Slaver in 1861. She was a 319-ton wooden sail-powered brig/sloop, formerly a private yacht purchased for the Royal Navy in November 1837, carrying 10 guns. You can learn more about Waterwitch in St Helena Connection #23, November 2017.

In December 1844 it was decided that a memorial would be erected in Castle Gardens (right) to those of her crew who died during actions against Slavers.

L’hôpital des marinaux

St Helena, like most other isolated islands, is always, and always has been available to ships in distress or with a crewmember or passenger in medical need. Indeed, in Napoleon’s time the French referred to the island as L’hôpital des marinaux (the seafarers’ hospital).

St Helena Radio{1} keeps a continuous watch on International Distress Frequencies MF 2,182KHz and VHF Channel 16. It also monitors HF channels ITU channel 1217, ITU channel 807 and ITU channel 414, providing radio assistance to visiting ships or yachts as well as local boats. It also acknowledges, relays and assists with distress calls for St Helena, Ascension Island, or for any vessels at sea within the reception range of St Helena.

If you have a medical energency and access to a Satellite Phone you could also try calling the General Hospital direct on (+290) 22500.

And more…

Below: World Maritime DayWatch out forTwo-hour boatsLeaky Ships

World Maritime Day

Despite years of maritime history, World Maritime Day on 26th September is not celebrated on St Helena.

For more annual events see our page This Year.

Watch out for

Visiting ships need to be wary of Rollers

Two-hour boats

In the late 1950s and 1960s James Bay was fairly busy, both importing (food and other supplies) and exporting (The Flax Industry). In addition to the regular Union Castle Line service, whose ships remained at St Helena for a couple of days at each visit giving their crews and passengers the opportunity of some time on the island, other ships made more brief visits, staying only long enought to quickly load or unload with no onshore time for their crews. These were known locally as the ‘Two-hour boats’. Two such were the African Endeavour and African Enterprise.

Leaky Ships

Read More

Article: Burning of The Spangereid

Published in the St Helena Guardian 9th October 1920{2}

The burning of the Norwegian ship Spangereid caused quite a sensation and the Wharf and Glacis were crowed with interested spectators. Although at one time it appeared as though she was going to burn out from stem to stern, the precaution taken by the captain of the vessel in having her towed into the beach, stern first and by this means preventing the fire spreading aft and then having her swamped by making two holes in her bow, saved the aft portion of the vessel entirely and will enable much valuable property to be salvaged. We congratulate the captain on his actions, which certainly prevented a total loss of cargo and ship fittings. It remains to be seen whether anything can be done with the wreck, but we rather fancy her days of work are over and she will rest peacefully beside what remains of her old friend the ‘Papanui’.


{a} Copyright © South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), used with permission.{b} JE Fowler{c} Woody Allen{d} From Sea Fever by John Masefield{e} Sir Walter Raleigh{f} H J Vernon


{1} Not to be confused with our former national radio station, Radio St Helena.{2} @@RepDis@@