HM Prison Weare

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HMP Weare
HMP Weare prison block (centre), Portland Royal Naval Cemetery can be seen in the foreground
HMP Weare prison block (centre), Portland Royal Naval Cemetery can be seen in the foreground
Location Portland Harbour, Dorset
Coordinates 50°34′6.87″N 2°26′7.15″W / 50.5685750°N 2.4353194°W / 50.5685750; -2.4353194Coordinates: 50°34′6.87″N 2°26′7.15″W / 50.5685750°N 2.4353194°W / 50.5685750; -2.4353194
Status Closed
Security class Adult Male/Category C
Capacity 396
Population 400 (as of June 2004[1])
Opened 1997 (1997)
Closed 2006
Managed by HM Prison Service

HMP Weare was an Adult Male/Category C prison ship berthed in Portland Harbour in Dorset, England. It was the latest in a lengthy history of British prison ships, which included HMS Maidstone (1937), used as a prison during Operation Demetrius in the 1970s, HMS Argenta, in use as a prison in the 1920s, and a long list of British prison hulks dating from the late 18th-century to the mid 19th-century.

History[edit]

The ship was built in 1979 by Götaverken Finnboda of Stockholm, Sweden, as a floating accommodation barge for the offshore oil and gas industry. It was one of several such vessels owned by the Swedish company Consafe Offshore AB, under the name Safe Esperia.[2] The vessel was acquired by the British Bibby Line in 1982, renamed Bibby Resolution, and chartered to the Ministry of Defence to provide troop accommodation in the Falkland Islands.[3]

The Bibby Resolution, and her sister ship Bibby Venture, were bought by the New York City Department of Correction in 1988 to serve as prison ships.[4] Bibby Resolution, as Maritime Facility II (MTF2),[5] was docked in the East River at Montgomery Street and held up to 380 inmates. It was finally closed in 1992.[6] In 1994 both ships were sold.[7]

The UK established HMP Weare in 1997 as a temporary measure to ease prison overcrowding, and after a formal planning application was agreed the Bibby Resolution, now HMP Weare, was brought from New York. Weare was docked at the disused Royal Navy dockyard at the Isle of Portland. The ship went on to hold 400 prisoners (as of June 2004) who were mainly at the end of their prison sentence.[8] The ship had a five-storied cell block.[9]

Upon the prison's opening, the ship became an object of political controversy, but later became something of a tourist attraction. The ship created two hundred and fifty jobs, and boosted the economy by an estimated £9 million a year. At the time it was also Portland's third prison, alongside HM Prison The Verne and HM Prison Portland.[10] After two years of use, HM Prison Weare was given a positive inspection report by the then chief inspector of prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham, who said it delivered "the best possible treatment and conditions for prisoners under difficult circumstances". However, there was debate upon the ship's long-term future.[11]

Closure and subsequent history[edit]

On 9 March 2005, it was announced that the Weare was to close, mainly due to costly running, being unnecessary and the cost of millions of pounds in order to refurbish it.[10] The prison briefly closed in 2005 and was reopened a few months later for a short period. Not long after, the prison closed permanently and sold.[12] In 2006, the ship was sold off after conditions on board were criticised by the Chief Inspector for Prisoners Anne Owers. The chief complained that the inmates had no exercise and no access to fresh air, also stating the ship was "unsuitable, expensive and in the wrong place".[13]

Among the options about what to do with the ship were moving it to London to be used by the Metropolitan police to hold prisoners[10] or sinking it in Portland Harbour or around the Isle of Portland as a man-made reef and as a diving location. In 2006, there was speculation that the government was thinking about buying the ship back, as it had been sold to a Nigerian shipping company to provide accommodation to oil workers.[8]

History
St. Vincent & Grenadines
Name: Jascon 27
Owner: Sea Truck Group
Port of registry: Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Builder: Götaverken Finnboda, Stockholm, Sweden
Launched: 1979
Acquired: 2006
In service: 2010
Identification:
Status: in active service, as of 2012
General characteristics (as of 2010)[14]
Type: Accommodation barge
Length: 93.14 m (305 ft 7 in)
Beam: 25.8 m (84 ft 8 in)
Height: 27.03 m (88 ft 8 in)
Draught: 3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)
Depth: 6.1 m (20 ft 0 in)
Installed power: 5 × 280 kVA Volvo Penta diesel generators
Propulsion: None
Capacity: Accommodation for 608
Aviation facilities: Helideck suitable for Sikorsky S-92A Helibus

After the closure of HMP Weare in 2006 the vessel was sold to the Sea Trucks Group,[14] and refurbished for use as an oil industry accommodation vessel, where it will hold 500 workers.[15] Renamed Jascon 27, the ship left Portland under tow in 2010, bound for Onne, Nigeria.[16][17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Owers, Anne (June 2004). "Report on an announced inspection of HMP Weare" (PDF). UK Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Consafe Offshore". jcegroup.se. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Floating Accommodation from Bibby Maritime UK". bibbymaritime.com. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Bohlen, Celestine (3 March 1989). "Jail Influx Brings Plan For 2 Barges". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Locate a Facility". NYC Department of Correction. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Raab, Selwyn (15 February 1992). "2 Jail Barges To Be Closed And Removed". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Fein, Esther B. (29 July 1994). "A $1.8 Million Bid Wins 2 Empty Prison Barges". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Prison ships considered by Tories to ease overcrowding". BBC News. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 1139564". PastScape. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Steven Morris (12 August 2005). "Britain's only prison ship ends up on the beach | UK news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  11. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/feb/10/ukcrime.prisonsandprobation
  12. ^ "Portland Port, Portland, Dorset". Geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  13. ^ Portland's prison ship (29 January 2007). "Dorset - History - Portland's prison ship". BBC. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Accommodation barge Jascon 27". Sea Trucks Group. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Jascon 27 - Portland". carford.co.uk. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "A Fond Farewell to the Jascon 27" (PDF). Portland Harbour Authority Newsletter. Castletown, Dorset: Portland Harbour Authority Ltd. 1 (9): 2. 1 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "Jascon 27". shipspotting.com. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 

External links[edit]