The New


1 December 27 oC (1991)

Dover takes Revenge!

On the evening of Tuesday, 19 November, the Ross Revenge, although silent, was safely anchored in her usual position half-a-mile from the South Falls Head bouy with a crew of six on board - skipper Neil Gates, crewman Stuart Dobson, crewman and trainee disc-jockey Chris Wilson, cook Wendy Shepherd and broadcasters Ricky Jones and Steve Conway.

The weather and seas were rough; no-one could sleep, and only Stuart went to bed, because he was ill. Neil and Chris sat up on the bridge all night listening out on the coastal navigation channel. As the night wore on, they heard a message from Dover Coastguard requesting that the vessel proceeding south through the traffic zone identify itself - but had no idea they were on board that very vessel! Their anchor-chain had broken so low down that the ship still felt as if she was just turning with the tide as normal; and with visibility down to almost zero they could see no navigation markers, or any part of the shoreline. So believing that they were still at anchor seventeen miles from the shipping lanes, and hearing no message directly addressed to the Ross Revenge, they had no reason to contact the Coastguards.

Then at 03.50 GMT on Wednesday morning they suddenly experienced a massive jolt - the Ross had landed, stern first, on the notorious Goodwin Sands. Within a few minutes, the visibility had cleared and all could see that the coastline before them was unfamiliar and they were far from home!

A few minutes after they grounded, at 03.56, Steve, as the radio station's representative, called the Coastguards and asked for a tug. The Coastguards wanted to know how many were on board and told them a helicopter had already been scrambled to rescue them. The Dover and Ramsgate lifeboats also attended, but were not able to get close enough to remove anyone - the Ramsgate lifeboat itself grounded for awhile in the attempt to get closer. A Sally Line freighter was also stranded on the same sandbank that night.

Steve took the responsibility of negotiating a verbal contract for the Dover Harbour Authorities to salvage the vessel; an act that undoubtedly saved the ship! A tug was despatched, but before it arrived, as the tide went down the Ross began to keel over. Reports vary as to how far over she went, but it was far enough for the starboard drains to run backwards on the accomodation deck and the ship to start to flood with seawater through the toilet and shower outlets. So, although reluctant to abandon the ship, all six crew were persuaded to return to RAF Manston aboard the Seaking helicopter 166 - the same aircraft that rescued Rico, Chris Adams and Caroline Martin almost a year earlier! It took just nine minutes to load everyone onto the Seaking, and they abandoned ship at 06.07.

The Caroline magic worked again to keep the ship safe, just as it did in similar circumstances in 1966. On that occasion, the Mi Amigo found the only stretch of Clacton beach where there was no concrete groin upon which she would have broken her back. This time, the Ross Revenge found the only tiny area of hard sand on the Goodwin where she would not have continued to keel over and become irretrievably sucked down into the mud. When the tug arrived a little after 07.00, although they could not get near her they could watch her as the tide rose again and they could see that she was moving - as they watched she turned to face the weather, came upright again, and then got herself comfortably and safely settled down on her little patch of hard sand.

Meanwhile back at RAF Manston our heros were taking a shower and getting the

salt water out of their hair, and they were given RAF flying suits to wear, which they lived in for the next week as the clothes they'd left the ship in were ruined and all their other property had had to be left behind on board. Suitably cleaned and attired, they then adjourned to the station's UK office in London to make future plans.

The ship was abandoned all day Wednesday and on Thursday morning the tug, Dexterous, put a team on board who prepared her for a salvage attempt that night. Their preparations included cutting away her anchor chain, most of which was still intact and was weighing her down on the sand.

During the day Peter Chicago went out to rejoin the ship. He was taken from Ramsgate by skipper Dave Turner in his trawler Fairwind; the trawler was unable to get too close to the sandbank so Peter approached the Ross in a little rubber dingy. The salvage crew refused to allow him on board, which under the laws of salvage they were entitled to do, although Peter was unaware of this. There was some arguement, although not a fight as has been reported elsewhere! A piece of chain was thrown in Peter's direction, heavy enough to have caused him injury, but fortunately it missed him and landed in the rubber boat beside him. After that Peter desisted in his attempt to board the Ross and went home.

Steve Conway, Wendy Shepherd and Neil Gates went to Dover harbour on Thursday to meet and rejoin the ship as soon as she came in, but the attempts to refloat her that evening were unsuccessful so the three slept on the floor at the ferry terminal.

On Friday morning more attempts were made to move her off the sandbank but she didn't want to budge. Dover authorities said they would make one last attempt to save her - after that salvage would no longer be ecomomically viable and she would be abandoned as a wreck; in this eventuality they would have punctured her hull and flooded her so that she could not in future have floated off and become a danger to shipping! Once again the Caroline magic came through and she left the sandbank at 11.00 on the very last attempt. Caroline also has a reputation for doing desperate things on significant dates. Thus she came in to harbour for the first time in eight years on 22 November - the anniversary of the assassination of the man whose daughter she was named after: American president John F. Kennedy.

She came in at first on the Eastern arm of Dover harbour where the ferries arrive. Then at around 22.00 she was moved to Granville Dock, an area that is not accessible to the public, where she currently remains. Good photos can be obtained from other parts of the dockyard and from other areas of Dover including the Cliffs - but IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO APPROACH OR BOARD THE SHIP AT THIS TIME. Negotiations are taking place to move her to a public area, possibly Wellington Dock, where arrangements can be made for fans to visit her and help out with the work of getting her seaworthy again. For full details of these plans, keep in touch with the station's own Info-line on 0839 669 990. Not only will you hear the accurate news and hear it first on this number, it's a premium line which means that every time you make a call, which costs you up to 45p per minute, some of the money you spend on that call goes towards paying for the repairs to the ship. We understand that this line cannot be accessed from outside the UK; in this case you should call the Info-line of the Ross Revenge Support Group on 0426 961640 where you will also find reliable information and news. But we must stress again, do NOT attempt to entre the non-public area where the ship currently is, you will not be allowed to board the ship, could be arrested, and would sway the Dover authorities into feeling that the Ross Revenge is a nuisance rather than a valuable tourist attraction.

At lunchtime on Saturday Neil, Steve and Wendy were allowed back onto the ship and there they remain as representatives of the ship's owners and the radio station. A few days later Steve signed the salvage contract which he'd verbally agreed on Wednesday morning. Had he not made this contract before the ship was abandoned she would surely have been lost; either she would have been left on the sandbank as a wreck and flooded, or if she had been salvaged anyway then she would have become the property of the Admiralty Marshal and sold to the highest bidder, probably as scrap. The salvage still has to be paid for, of course, but the Ross Revenge still belongs to her original owners and remains under the control of the Radio Caroline organisation. The salvage costs have not been quoted - the station has no idea at all of what this bill will be, so any figures currently being bandied about are pure speculation plucked out of thin airl "we can only hope," says Radio Caroline's manager, Peter Moore, "that the Dover Harbour Authorities realise that the ship has little commercial value and will return control of the ship to us at a reasonable salvage cost." As for harbour fees, these have not yet been fixed either, but a Dover Harbour Authority employee has unofficially estimated that they should be around £250 per week.

The Ross Revenge has by now been subjected to several official examinations. The first was from the Customs. They were very officious to begin with, took away many boxes of various goods, and threatened Steve Conway with arrest and prosecution for drug abuse and pornograpy offences! However, virtually everything they removed was later returned, with an apology to Steve; the so-called pornograpic videos and magazines were found to be quite inoccuous, and the 'drugs' they thought they'd found turned out to be some ancient Texas rolling tobacco that had been left on board from Monique days! Peter Moore tells us that the Customs may have been disappointed not to find any drugs, but it's the absolute rule that no-one is ever allowed to take any drugs on board. He's been adamant about this in the five years that he's

been managing the station, and as far as he knows that has always been station policy. Apart from the fact he is against drug abuse himself, "The DTI are always waiting for us to put a foot wrong so they can pounce, " he says. "We just couldn't allow the enormous risk it would pose to the entire operation."

Steve, Wendy and Neil worked solidly for eighteen hours to clean up all the mess left by the partial flooding on the sandbank and subsequent salvage operation. The result of their labours was a clean bill of health from the Public Health Office inspector. He did order that the ship's toilets cannot be used - a standard rule, as sea toilets.. must not be discharged into a closed harbour - so the crew have to use the public toilet block, but apart from that minor inconvenience the crew may continue to live on board as long as the Harbour Authority continues to supply them with fresh water.

The Board of Trade inspectors were less impressed by her condition. They gave the crew verbally a list of imperfections to be put right within fortyeight hours along with the warning that if this was not complied with the ship would be served with a detention order. Of course all the work could not possibly be done in that time so the detention order will be served in the coming week. But in any case the ship was not about to return to sea in any great hurry. "The boat and all of us require a long holiday before she goes anywhere," says Peter Moore. Although it was never intended to bring the ship in, he's making the best of the situation; he's glad of the free survey - "The DTI do love us really!" - and she will have a complete overhaul before facing the North Sea again.

The majority of the ship's faults are quite minor, such as the distress flares being out of date-code, and the life-rafts not complying with new safety regulations that have come into force over the past eight years whilst the ship has been at sea. They can all be put right with "enough money and a great deal of hard work," as Peter puts it, and there is no problem at all with the state of the hull - it look a little rusty and battered, but it's fully sound. But the major problem is the ship's rudder and steering gear. Grounding stern-first onto the Goodwins did it no good at all; it is totally wrecked. This is an integral part of the ship, and isn't something you can just go into the chandlers and buy like a life-raft!

Here the Caroline magic takes over again. Ernie Svenson was the fleet engineer for Ross Shipping; what he doesn't know about Ross trawlers isn't worth knowing. When he retired, Caroline retained him as consultent ship's engineer. But in 1989 he was very ill, and they lost touch with him. So imagine Peter's surprise and delight, after the stranding of the Ross Revenge had hit the headlines, to answer his 'phone to hear familiar tones: "'Ere, young Peter, what you done to my bloody ship?"

Ernie advised that the way to replace the steering gear is to purchase the complete kit when another trawler of the same type is scrapped. He will look out for gear of the right type and supervise the operation. Obviously this may be some time away yet, but if necessary, once all the other work on her is done, the Ross Revenge can be reregistered as a hulk and towed to another port - even on the Continent - for the work to be done.

Ernie also expressed amazement that she had survived the keeling-over on the sandbank. He says that this type of trawler is renouned for rolling over, as there are many wrecks lying on their side in the Humber estuary to testify! Work will begin on the massive list of imperfections as soon as the ship is accessible. We know that many of her fans will want to help, so plans are being made to allow people to spend a week or two on board as a working holiday. The main problem is insurance against accidental injury. The idea

is being looked at of forming a club for the would-be workers to join, with the ship being registered as the clubhouse. Until or unless some such scheme can be worked out, all visitors to the ship will have to sign an indemnity before boarding and do so entirely at their own risk.

As for raising the money to do the work - as well as paying the salvage fees and harbour dues - the Ross Revenge Support Group will co-ordinate this, but are also still trying to raise money to continue to pursue the case against the illegal raid on the ship through the European Parliament - a case which they have no intention of dropping. RRSG members have been contributing money for many months now and have seen little return so far; consequently the Caroline organisation does not want to just beg for yet more money - although they need it and will be very glad of it. They want to give you something tangible that you can keep and treasure in return for your cash. To this end new merchandise is being produced right now for you to purchase. It will be put on sale at virtually cost price so that you can choose to send extra donations as you wish.

The first item to become available will be specially designed T-shirts featuring drawings of all the ships Caroline has used over the years with a message of victory.

A very special item is now ready to go to the printers. It's Peter Moore's own story of the last two years in the life of Caroline, giving all the behind-the-scenes facts that have until now been shrouded in mystery. Called "Butterfly on the Wheel" this book will be a numbered, limited edition. Peter told us than only five hundred copies were to be printed! We've begged him to reconsider, as we know that many more of our own readers than that are going to want a copy. So what you must do, if you want to be sure of a copy, is write NOW to offshore Echo's, who are printing and publishing the book, and ask for a copy to be reserved for you. only as many copies will be printed as have been ordered in advance, so if you don't want to miss out, remember you have been warned! Offshore Echo's address is: P.O. Box 1514, London W7 2LL, England.

Since the ship came in fans have been sending gifts, which have been greatly appreciated by those on board, but the very quantity of which being continually delivered have somewhat disrupted work at the dockyard! If you would like to send comforts and treats to the crew, please address them not directly to the ship but care of John and Jenny Knight, 121 Monkton Street, Monkton, Ramsgate, CT12 4JQ. They will all be collected from there and taken to the ship at regular but convenient times. It's not advisable to send perishable food at the moment, as they are quite well stocked, but anything they can use to look after the ship and keep themselves from getting bored will be welcome.

It's not possible to predict at this time when the ship will return to sea, let alone to broadcasting. The amount of work to be done on her before she will qualify for her seaworthyness certificate will take at the very least until the Spring. But as long as the Caroline magic remains, she certainly will return to her natural home before too long! The new UK "Broadcasting Act" has been studied thoroughly, and it is clear that all Caroline needs in order to broadcast from the High Seas without hinderance by the DTI is authorisation to do so by ANY country outside the UK. This avenue is being explored and to accept an authorisation to broadcast without conditions being imposed as to the contents of the broadcasts does seem to be a highly possible option. We'll just have to wait and see what happens; meanwhile Peter Moore promises "We're doing our best to keep the DTI investigators in jobs for as long as humanly possible!"




Getting (23,800 miles) high again..,

Seven months ago Radio Caroline appeared briefly on the Astra TV satellite, using a subcarrier on the Lifestyle transponder that was hired to Chris Cary for his Radio Nova service. Nova had ceased to operate, and Cary had offered Caroline the use of the subcarrier until his lease ran out. Unfortunately the experiment turned out to be quite unsuccessful. Cary began to supplement Caroline's eight-hour tapes with live jocks of his own at both ends of the day. Some of them were ex-Caroline jocks. They continued to call the station Caroline during this live airtime over which the Caroline organisation had no control. Then they began to sell merchandise - including Radio Nova souvenirs, and Caroline souvenirs that didn't exist - saying that all profits would be going to keep the station on the air.

Not unnaturally, the Caroline people soon became very unhappy about the situation, and on Friday, 12 April, Rico, Chris Adams and Colin Ward arrived at the Camberley studios, to be joined later by John Burch and Steve Taplin of the Caroline Movement. There followed a most bizarre evening's broadcast, with the station's future being discussed live on air, with Chris Cary on the telephone from Spain and later Peter Chicago also on the 'phone from Kent. It culminated in the decision to put an end to the experiment there

and then, and the station closed down after just thirteen days on the air. But that didn't put an end to Caroline on satellite forever. Indeed, taped programmes can again be heard beamed from the Clarkian belt!

On 27 November the first Caroline tape was aired on RNI, the satellite radio station that shares the Norwegian TV4 transponder on Intelsat VA F12 at 10W. TV4's transponder is currently on 10.97GHz, with the RNI mono subcarrier at 7.74MHz, but this is likely to change shortly. RNI is run by a Dutchman called Henk de Jong, who is an enthusiastic offshore radio fan and has offered a slice of his satellite time to Caroline with no strings attatched; he also schedules a Radio Nord show on Saturdays. The Caroline tapes are scheduled to appear at 22.00

to 23.00 CET (21.00 to 22.00 GMT) on Mondays to Thursdays, and on Friday night / Saturday morning there will be an eight-hour Caroline session, although at this moment no tapes have been made for this slot. The format is to be a mix of Caroline Overdrive and the old 819 rock service.

This is good news for Caroline fans in Scandinavia, as with the Intelsat VA footprint beamed at Norway they'll be able to receive their best ever signal from Caroline. However it's quite a different story in England and most of Europe. In the south of England, quite a large dish - over 1.5 metres in diameter - is needed to receive a usable signal from the relatively low powered transponder which isn't even beamed our way. The only result likely to be obtained from trying to reposition one of the small Astra dishes is to lose track of the BSkyB signals and have to bring in your dealer to realign your dish! Searching for RNI in this particular way cannot be recommended.

There is hope, however, for those who canít afford, or havenít the space, to install a large, steerable dish. Henk is hoping to be able to move RNI onto Astra in the New Year, in which case he has promised to take Caroline along with him.



        31 AVONDALE ROAD


         ESSEX SS7 1 EH





Normally, Newscaster is sent free to all fully-paid-up members of the Monitor mailing list. This issue is different.

(1) It's also being sent to readers who have not contributed to Monitor 38 - so if you have not received previous issues of Newscaster you may not be scheduled to receive Monitor 39 when it is eventually published!

(2) We would like you to contribute towards the costs of this Newscaster if you can afford to send £1 or less. Please don't use first class post! Every first class stamp you use on a letter to us is a waste of 6p! So please use a second class stamp and send the extra 6p to subsidise us instead of the Post Office!

{3} If you can afford to send more than £1, donít send it to us! Instead, send it on our behalf to the Ross Revenge Support Group, 25 The Meadow, Chiselhurst, Kent, BR7 6AA. This is a positive way in which all of our readers can help us to help our favourite ship back to life and health !


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