On Saturday 15th August 1959 Consul ran one hour trips from Weymouth at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm to view the United States Navy’s newly built nuclear powered submarine USS Skipjack which had just arrived at Portland on a grand tour to show the flag and demonstrate America’s naval supremacy to the World at large.
The trips were very popular and Consul carried good loads as Skipjack’s visit to the UK had been given massive media coverage as she was the first in a new class of American nuclear powered submarines designed to be fast and manoeuvrable under water as well as having the ability to stay submerged for lengthy periods.
When returned to service after the War in 1949 Consul had been much rebuilt including having her main deck saloon extended to the full width of the ship aft of the engine room. This added a lot of extra weight to what was only a lightly built ship and after that Consul was ever prone to take a list. This was very noticeable this weekend with passengers crowding towards Consul’s starboard side to get a better view of the Skipjack as she lay alongside the then rather inaptly named (for a nuclear submarine) Coaling Pier at Portland.
Consul repeated the trips on Sunday 16th and Monday 17th August on which she added an extra one at 11am.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 15th August 2019.