Forum  I     I   Contact
Polski English

Cosag Marine Services Ltd.

This part of her history was restored with help of Captain Iain Mathieson,  Alan Woodrow (Woody), Linda Sutton and several data what we found in internet. Anyway without help of Iain it was impossible to find anybody ready to help us.

The Company Cosag Marine Services Ltd. (from Coastal Aggregates) was founded by Mike Davenport, John Norton Lea and Mike Woodall in 1970. They were all Second Mates with Athel Line in UK before deciding to buy a small trawler for Safety Standby work in North Sea.

The Cosag logo was red, gray and black and shaped like a sonar beam.

Cosag Office was at Ocean House, 89 Northside, Clapham Common, in London.
The Operations Office was at Fellowes Shipyard, Southtown Road, in Great Yarmouth while there was a small superintendents office at The Leading Lighthouse, Torry, in Aberdeen.

Office staff: Mike Davenport, Mike Woodall, & John Lee, he was mostly based in Aberdeen, Captain Bell was the personnel manager & Lynda was in the office on Southtown Road. Superintendents where John Patterson, Mr Allen, & one other.

Cosag had a diving division where William Pert was boss in those days.

Also an electrical division, headed by Jack Leman, he had something to do with Mike Davenport with a vessel called Celtic Surveyor, which was turned into a floating bar night club in Great Yarmouth opposite the town hall.

The first Cosag's ship was m/v Max Reimann - trawler built in Rostock, in Eastern Germany in1951.

Next was m/v Tikker (ex 'Sheila Homan' sister ship to Max Reimann)

MT Tikker still as MT Sheila Homan - a sister ship to MT Max Reimann
Picture downloaded from

Both the Tikker and Max Reimann had excellent sea-keeping qualities if the bow was put 'head to sea' They also must have been one of the first vessels to be fitted with steerable Kort Nozzles instead of conventional rudders. We know that Cosag mariners had a big sentiment to both of them.

MV Bembridge was a third vessel in the Cosag fleet - she was not a next trawler and she was bigger that two older sisters. She was bought before a summer 1971.

MV Bembridge was followed by

MV Jesmar,

MV Jesmar at Great Yarmouth
Picture downloaded from

MV Jesmar
Picture downloaded from

MV Sperus (ex northern Light "Hesperus", built 1939)

MV Hesperus 1939 - 1972

MV Sperus (ex Hesperus) from 1973
Picture downloaded from

MV Sperus
Picture downloaded from

Hydragale (or according to one source Astragale)

MV Hydragale - she is in blue of course
Picture downloaded from

MV Hydragale - you can see a Cosag plate behind the wheel house
Picture downloaded from

All of above vessels worked for Decca Survey Ltd. which at that time was based in Great Yarmouth.
They were operating in the North Sea, Mediterranean and West Africa.
The only exception was Tikker which was used for Salvage and Diving Support.

MT Tikker sailing up the river at Great Yarmouth
Picture downloaded from

On above picture MT Tikker has the starboard anchor missing. Vessel than had just returned from Sines, Portugal,where she had been supporting diving operations for the construction of a new Port. That time Iain Mathieson was her Master too. She lost the starboard anchor during this period. On the way back from Portugal the vessel got caught in a severe storm in the Bay of Biscay , made worse by the fact that crew could not lower the derrick due to the amount of equipment stowed on deck. But Tikker was very brave at rough sea so nothing happened with vessel and especially her crew.

Now let us come back to our Bembridge.

We know only a bit about a history of MV Bembridge in Cosag fleet. We know that Cosag Marine Services bought her in 1972 from Mr. Eric St. John Foti and quite soon she was converted for semi supplying vessel able to operate with divers and to operate with different equipment.

MV Bembridge on 23.05.1971 when she was still owned by Arundel Priory as a Sea Training School

Her aft upper deck was cut off until the funnel basement. In the same way rear superstructure was removed too. So in such a way she received much bigger space on a lower aft deck.

MV Bembridge in 1972 during a conversion works
From right: Howard Smith and Peter Dowling

As above - there are three guys from previous Sea Training School working as a crew on her
employed by Cosag. From right: Howard Smith, Peter Dowling and Paddy O’Neil

Than just close to her funnel a bit on port side such a deck was made stronger. First of all big plate of ca 1 x 1 m was welded on, than on lower deck the nice supporting frame was add. On such a basement was placed a strong still mast (a thick pipe) and on such mast a heavy long boom was mounted.

Than the other changes came:

- both pilot boarding boats were removed
- all port holes mounted in sky light of Pilot Saloon received a special securing screws to mount a storm covers - compulsory for a heavy gales of cruel North Sea
- two port holes were removed too and special evacuation cover was mounted in a fore part of that sky light - it was for safety - to speed up any eventual evacuation
- on two boards in the mid part there were a nice surround arches - just to reduce an influence of heavy storm waves - so amount of water coming on the lower deck an open space on both boards was seriously reduced - so steel plates covered that space. Than her look was definitively changed and a corvette character almost lost. But from practical point of view and safety - it was necessary
- her wheel house was changed a bit too - its open character was converted to a full covered and closed space. They made a full roof and moved an inside doors to be outside ones. Than a capacity of wheel house become much bigger and much more comfortable
- finally her whole hull was painted white but she was white only several months
- in the middle of 1973 her old Decca 212 radar was exchanged with Furuno solid state radar
- in 1974-1975 s fore columbus davits were removed - only a single aft ones stayed on her deck

We have a full documentation about that conversion - all of them are just here

Finally she received in such a way a big space under a heavy boom to operate with divers, stories and pipes - everything to support a platforms, underwater works and divers in the cruel conditions of North Sea.

MV Bembridge in the second half of 1972, when she had whole hull painted white

The photo of the ship with the white hull was taken during Rig Positioning working the North Sea, in 1972, as we can see the Decca Hi Fix antennas and also the marker buoys used for indicating the rig position.

For normal navigation they were using Decca Navigator but for survey switched to DeccaHi-Fix or Syledis which was much more accurate. However these needed special charts and we had a chart plotter on board at the back of the wheelhouse to make their own charts while surveying.

Why Cosag removed her old heavy Pilot Boarding Boats? They only used rubber inflatables for offshore work or occasionally fiberglass dinghies for going ashore from anchorage. Both are shown on the above colour photo.

In 1972 there was on board a beautiful girl - a student on her vacation job - she was a Stuart and quite soon a cook. She was working on board as a crew member and in a free moments she was painting. Bellow you can see all crew members painted by Linda. Who knew that time she will be one of the most famous painters nowadays.

Linda Sutton in 1972

In January 1973 she nearly sank on a voyage from Lerwick to Aberdeen due to a badly leaking rudder gland and Cosag diverted her off-hire to Fellowes Shipyard in Great Yarmouth. What is very interesting it was Thomas R. Bittlenot for a first time that Bembridge had this problem - before in Trinity House this problem was repeated and last time the same story was in 1971 during the Sea Training School. But that time famous "Scotty" - John Cambell Thompson, chief engineer was on her board - he was by almost 30 years on Bembridge. That time she had an oil sealing on the shafts and tubes - than in 1973 it was change - w new inlets were made for tubes from a white metal and than oil was changed into a grease. So finally that problem was solved.

John Cambell Thompson left her board when she was sold to Cosag. The first Engineer who Cosag had on Bembridge was called 'Henry' Hall and he was followed by Ernie.....who stayed there nearly all the time. None of these guys were real Marine Engineers, just mechanics who were good with diesel engines!

We know about one man who worked as Marine Engineer Superintendent for Cosag in 1972/1973.
His name was Tom Bittle (full name: Thomas R. Bittle) who came from Glasgow. He was involved in the repairs to MV Bembridge.

We are trying to find these guys of course.

Cosag had bought a large stock of blue paint very cheap when they acquired the 'Jesmar' in Malta, hence they decided to paint all our vessel hulls blue !

MV Bembridge in 1973 in blue

Looking through the clear view in bad weather (as far as we know the North Sea was really not so friendly that time for a crew - not for Bembridge of course - it was a time when many crew members were not ready to repeat any trip once again)

Aft deck and where crew used to lay and pick up the buoys, see the old diesel winch

Damage after bad weather, the derrick rapped around the mast stay (we preserved a basement from that mast in our office. So we know where it was exactly. In a space on lower deck where we have a small office and where before was a mess room for a crew - today there is a supporting standing steel leg - preliminary supporting a mast basement)

And several pictures presenting a daily life of her crew:

Jack Hoey C/E, Tim George AB sailing passed Bressay Shetlands

Tim George wanted his photo taken with Lerwicks cemetery in the background

Jack Hoey filled the winch up with diesel

The mate - Mad Monk (It is an interesting photo - you can see her stern and aft deck with characteristic traces of former aft superstructure supporting an aft part of her boat deck - this part of the boat deck and aft superstructure was removed in 1972 to make a free space for heavy mast, derrick and diesel winch - visible on previous pictures)

Here you can see a last Deck Log Book and Chief Mates Log Book - both from 1975

Now several pictures showing her last days in 1976 just before a fire in engine room:

MV Bembridge in a first months of 1976.

The picture above and four bellow were taken in Great Yarmouth - than vessel was  alongside Southtown Wharf at Fellowes Shipyard. This was just a few steps away from the Cosag Office.

This photo is very interesting for Captain Iain because right at the top of the photo we can see the bow of the trawler 'Dorinda'. He used to own this vessel (which was also used for hydrographic survey) with a guy called Terry McLaughlin.

MT Dorinda Built at Selby in 1955 by Cochrane & Sons Ltd.
Picture taken from

In 1976 they sailed it from Yarmouth to Dubai via Antwerp with a cargo of Dangerous Goods. They sold it in Dubai and he believes it is there still, half sunken Dubai Creek! But after a short searching in internet we found that she was still working in 2000.

Again we are coming back to our MV Bembridge in a first months of 1976 moored in Yarmouth, you can see her on bellow attached 4 photos:

a view from a bow

a view from her stern

her bow with special screws to mount storm covers for port holes and safety cover permitting to escape from previous pilot saloon in case of emergency

the aft part of her main deck - as we can see there is a lack of one fore pair of columbus davits and only an aft ones are still on the deck 

It is only one picture what we have from her engine room when she was fully operation vessel - this picture was made by Stuart Readman on the beginning of 1976 during a first visit of Essex Yacht Club members in Great Yarmouth looking for a new vessel to become a new headquarter for that club.

Not so long time later in the same 1976 there was a serious accidend - a fire in her engine room. We know a whole story from Alan Woodrow (Woody):

"The night the Bembridge caught fire I was onboard, she was I believe moored abreast with the Jesmar on bollard quay Great Yarmouth, the cause was the diesel  boiler in the engine room, it didn’t fire up, and overflowed fuel into the bilges, then when it did fire up the rest is history.CE at the time was Tony the hatchet, he was dragged out of the engine room by Ernie & me, two fuel oil header tanks at the top of the engine room entrance had plastic sight classes, these had melted spraying fuel over the stairwell into the engine room."

And almost the same area (aft part of engine room) after a fire

and fore part of engine room

Top of the E/R cat walk looking forward, see the outboard motor on the rail. The clean bot of paint in the Port - Starboard E/R access alleyway, the officer's mess room bulkhead is directly forward of this bulkhead.

Top of the catwalk looking aft the boiler exhaust. There is the stack behind the ladder

Aft E/R looking up the port quarter

Although engines was almost good after a fire but the rest of elements - especially all electric circuits were destroyed - further rebuilding of all fired elements occurred to be too expensive. Cosag Marine Services decided to sell Bembridge. But who could want her? Only breakers. So Essex Yacht Club from Leight on Sea rescued her from breakers hands, other way she would be converted into a nice mountain of scrub already in 1976. 

What happened with Cosag Marine Services Company? Good question.

After Cosag they went to run small coasters carrying coal. We do not know what happened after that.

We are trying to find Mike Davenport and Mike Woodall.

Why only two of these three guys? It is a pity but John Norton Lea died some years ago. Maybe one day somebody from his close family will contact us, who knows ...

We will still be trying to discover and publish more. Once again we would like to thank to Captain Iain Mathieson and Alan Woodrow (Woody) for all their comments, support and great help in our searching.





Our gallery
Time & calendar
Home  I  Linda Sutton - Bembridge 1972  I  Smith's Dock History  I    I    I