Maritime Volunteer Service

Patron: H. R. H. Prince Michael of Kent

East Sussex Sovereign Harbour Unit

A Company limited by Guarantee No. 3003565. A Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 1048454 and in Scotland SC 039269. Registered Address: International Business Centre, Delta Crescent, Warrington, WA5 7WQ

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Updated 05 / 03 / 2018


East Sussex 1 is a steel hulled, single screw, former Admiralty HLD (harbour launch diesel).  She is 58 ft (17.5m) long and was built to serve in HM dockyards, ferrying men and a small amount of stores to and from ships and around the harbour.  In service, she would have carried up to 120 men aboard at any one time.

She is a New Zealand Class HLD (colloquially "Kiwi Class"), based on a design originating from HMNZ dockyard at Devonport in New Zealand in 1966, and adopted by the RN in the late 1960s/early 1970s to take over from the venerable old wooden Admiralty HLDs which, apart from a change from steam to diesel, had remained unchanged for about 90 years. 

HLD 7015, Falkland Islands?

Rangatira as a floating barracks behind St Edmund and a Kiwi Class Harbour Launch in the foreground - Falkland Islands 1982

Kiwi Class - location unknown

Gillingham Marina

Our vessel was built in Emsworth Shipyard, Hampshire in 1970 and, we think, fitted out in Chatham Dockyard.  Her original number was HLD 7015 which means she was the 15th vessel (of any kind) to be built for the Navy in 1970.

In service, she ran as D10, although we do not yet know in which dockyard(s) she served.  At first she would have been part of the Royal Navy's Port Auxiliary Service and, after 1975, part of the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS).

We are currently trying to find out whether she served in the Falklands conflict in 1982/83. Certainly some New Zealand Class HLD's were taken (by ship) to the Falklands for use in Stanley Harbour and I have a grainy picture of a vessel which could quite possibly be ours, at anchor in Stanley Harbour in 1983. We've been told that commanding officer Port Stanley was quoted as saying that a quiet day in Stanley Harbour is a Force 7 and the Kiwis were the only ferries he could trust to always operate.

Along with the other New Zealand Class HLDs, she was sold out of RN service in 1997/98 when Serco took over the running of RMAS operations. She was bought by Mr Kite, who at the time ran the historic Alchorn pleasure boats from Eastbourne beach and marina, for use as a charter angling vessel.  He named her "Enchantress".

MVS purchased her in 1999 and we were honoured to have our patron, Prince Michael of Kent who attend the commissioning ceremony.

East Sussex 1 is now a coded vessel and has just completed a major refit in the excellent Cantells Boatyard in Newhaven, East Sussex.  Our target is to further adapt her to make her more suitable for day and overnight training for the youth groups with whom we work (currently Sea Scouts and Scouts).

If you can supply any further information on the history of East Sussex 1 then the MVS would be most grateful. Particularly if you served in the Falklands and remember seeing her there, took pictures or sailed on her. Please help.

New Zealand or Kiwi Class Harbour Launches were used as crew boats in the 1982 Falklands Conflict.

As for the boats themselves they had come from various places, Kiwi 2 & 3 from one of the Dockyard's, Kiwi 1 had been used at a range and as a patrol vessel based in Scotland. Consequently it was fitted out slightly differently to the others. 2 & 3 had passenger accommodation in both fwd and aft cabins, Kiwi 1 had PIPECOTS  in one of the cabins, a flushing toilet / shower and a diesel fired range. Originally they were all fitted with a single Foden FD6, a super charged two stroke diesel that has a characteristic screech. During refits in the 1990's many were re-engined with a Perkins turbo charged diesel and a very heavy duty SCG gearbox. The Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (RNXS) was formed in 1963 from the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Minewatching Service (RNMWS) and the Admiralty Ferry Crews Association, in response to the nuclear threat to British ports. The service was disbanded on 31 March 1994 due to defence cuts. Most vessels from its fleet were transferred to the Royal Navy.  Volunteers from the RNXS then set up the Maritime Volunteer Service .