Two of the vessels described below with their history. Not that pretty, but loved by those who sailed on them, it seems…

Ship Class SA-15

Class overview

    Oy Wärtsilä Ab, Turku, Finland
    Valmet Oy, Helsinki, Finland
    Wärtsilä Marine, Helsinki, Finland


    Murmansk Shipping Company
    Far East Shipping Company
    Sakhalin Shipping Company
    NB Shipping
    Bank Line

Subclasses: SA-15 Super
Built: 1982–1987
In service: 1982–
Completed: 19
Active: 2
Scrapped: 17

General characteristics (SA-15)[1]
Type: Ro-ro/General cargo ship

    16,500 GT
    11,000 NT
    20,000 DWT (summer)
    14,700 DWT (Arctic)


    177.20 m (581 ft 4 in) (overall, maximum)[2]
    173.55 m (569 ft 5 in) (overall, hull)
    164.10 m (538 ft 5 in) (waterline)[2]
    159.6 m (523 ft 7 in) (between perpendiculars)[3]

Beam: 24.55 m (80 ft 7 in)
Height: 51.50 m (169 ft 0 in) from keel[4]

    11.35 m (37 ft 3 in) (summer)[3]
    9.00 m (29 ft 6 in) (Arctic)
    8.50 m (27 ft 11 in) (design)

Depth: 15.2 m (49 ft 10 in)
Ice class: ULA
Installed power: 2 × Wärtsilä-Sulzer 14ZV40/48 (2 × 7,700 kW)
Propulsion: Single shaft; KaMeWa CPP, ⌀ 5.6 m (18 ft 4 in)
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) (design)
Range: 16,000 nautical miles (30,000 km; 18,000 mi)
Endurance: 60 days
Crew: Accommodation for 42
Notes: As designed; minor differences between ships as well as with SA-15 Super

In 1995 Bank Line, a subsidiary of Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd, purchased four SA-15 class ships, Okha, Bratsk, Tiksi and Nikel, for their westbound round-the-world liner service linking Europe to the South Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea via the Panama and Suez Canals. The ships, no longer required to sail in the arctic conditions, were renamed Speybank, Arunbank, Foylebank and Teignbank and converted in the United Kingdom for the South Pacific service.

In 2006 China Navigation Co Ltd, the deep-sea shipping arm of John Swire & Sons Ltd, bought the business from Andrew Weir Shipping. The ships, while still managed by Bank Line, were time chartered, renamed to Mahinabank, Tikeibank, Gazellebank and Boularibank, and sent to Singapore for drydocking and extensive refits. Later the company also chartered two more SA-15 class ships, Anatoliy Kolesnichenko and Vasiliy Burkhanov, but unlike the others they were not rebuilt and retained their Russian identity. However, due to the economic downturn of 2009 the round-the-world cargo liner service was discontinued, the charters were ended, and the four converted SA-15 class ships were returned to their original owner and sold for scrap in late 2009.

The end of Bank Line’s SA-15 class ships was not without incident. On 28 April 2009, on her last complete voyage in round-the-world service, Boularibank was attacked by Somalian pirates 120 miles northeast of Socotra Island at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. Unable to outrun the attackers, Captain Peter Stapleton carried out evasive manoeuvres while under fire from the assailants’ AK-47s and RPGs and had his crew ward off the invaders using water cannons, twistlocks and heavy balks of timber lashed to the guard rails. By the time a destroyer of the Russian Navy arrived at the scene the pirates had given up, leaving Boularibank’s crew of 31, eleven passengers and the captain’s wife unharmed. Stapleton was later awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for exceptional bravery during the attack.

Another converted SA-15 class ship, Foylebank, was briefly featured in the 2000 drama film Cast Away as the ship that rescues the character portrayed by Tom Hanks.

all comments welcome!

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