World

Last Post: Queen's Baton sails for final time to remote Saint Helena

  • 27 February 2014
  • From the section World

The RMS St. Helena is one of the last working Royal Mail ships in the world - a lifeline for the people living on its namesake island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Earlier this month the Queen's Baton Relay, the Commonwealth Games' version of the Olympic torch, travelled on a special voyage. The transport of the baton highlighted the ship's vital role to the lives of the 4000 people who live on the British Overseas Territory, located between Africa and South America and famous for being the island of exile for Napoleon Bonaparte.

Built in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1989 to specifically supply the island, the ship has provided everything for the islanders. However, all is about to change for the people of Saint Helena.

An airport is due to open on the island in 2016. When it becomes operational, the RMS St. Helena will be retired to the annals of maritime history.

After visiting the 18 Commonwealth countries on the African continent in January and February, the baton left Cape Town in the shadow of Table Mountain. The baton for Glasgow 2014 is the third time the ship has transported the Queen's message for the Games.

Image copyright Glasgow 2014

The ship's 2nd officer and navigator Mia Henry posed with the baton above cargo containers full of goods to support the people of Saint Helena.

Cheddy Josan is the ship's boatswain. He is in charge of maintaining the ship and is seen here making a new gangplank.

The RMS St. Helena looks after its crew and passengers with this work station. The emergency communication system can contact the coastguard at Falmouth on the English coast.

This station operates the stabilisers to stop the RMS St. Helena rolling in rough seas.

Image copyright Glasgow 2014

Third Officer Mike Gibson holds the Queen's Baton below decks during the ship's voyage from Cape Town to Saint Helena.

As well as being an operational cargo ship, the RMS St. Helena hosts tourists who are drawn to its unique journey. Shuffleboard is a popular pastime.

Image copyright Glasgow 2014

Commonwealth Games Federation Honorary Secretary General Louise Martin CBE (centre), who competed for Scotland at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in the swimming finals and was central in Glasgow's successful bid to host this year's event, holds the Queen's Baton with the crew of RMS St. Helena.

The baton's final journey on the RMS St. Helena ended here, in sight of the popular tourist destination of Jacob's Ladder. Saint Helena is around 1,948 miles (3,135km) west of Cape Town and around 2,380 miles (3,830km) east from Fortaleza on the Brazilian coast. By the time the next Queen's Baton Relay travels around the world in the months before the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, the ship will have been replaced by an airport.

  • The BBC has been following the Queen's Baton Relay since the baton left Buckingham Palace on 9 October last year. Presenter Mark Beaumont will continue to follow its epic journey across the Americas and Europe, with regular reports on the BBC News Channel, BBC World News, radio and online.

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