In the age of coal fired warships, the collier was a very important type of ship. This ship was designed to transport bulky coal, the life blood of any ship, naval or merchant, that relied upon coal to fire the boilers, to feed the hungry engines steam. To keep up the steam pressure, huge amount of the coal were needed. Colliers plied all of the world’s oceans to supply the coal to the ships, as well as stocking coaling stations along the world’s trading routes. With the advent of fuel oil in World War One the oiler appeared and replaced the collier as the ship to feed the boilers for fuel fired ships but those were in a minority compared to the vast bulk of warships and almost every merchant ship, which still relied upon coal.

By the start of World War Two fuel oil had almost completely replaced coal as fuel for warships and most merchant ships but coal was still vitally needed for industry. We still need prodigious amounts of coal today just for the coal fired power plants across the globe. The Liberty ship was designed to replace the war losses of merchant ships. Merchant ships of all types were lost to U-Boats, air attack and other threats in their hundreds and the Liberty ship could be very quickly and in mass quantities to transport armament and supplies. Since industry still need coal to produce, colliers were still needed, not to supply fuel for warships but to supply fuel for industrial plants. The Liberty ship supplied the basic design for one type of collier produced in World War Two, the Seam class.

Quarter Views, Profile & Plan
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The twenty-four colliers of the Seam class were named after historic, rich coal seams found in the United States . The basic Liberty ship design had to be modified to accommodate their specific mission. A standard layout with machinery amidships and shaft tunnels running to the stern was unacceptable because to removed too much of the coal bunkerage capacity. The plant was moved to the stern and the quarterdeck raised, creating a profile not too dissimilar from an oiler. However, instead of a complex array of piping on the decks, there were a series of large cargo deck lids through which the coal was dumped into the holds. The first of the Seam class entered service in 1945 at the end of the war. At the end of the war the vessels were quickly sold but they continued to steam on, owned by various companies under various flags for the next two decades.

The SS Pocahontas Seam was named after a rich coal seam that underlies three counties in western Virginia . After the war she operated under various names; Pocahontas Seam out of Boston, Concord out of Boston, Hajduk out of Split Yugoslavia (actually the former Jellicoe Seam), and Andromeda.

Hull Detail
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The Loose Cannon 1:700 Scale SS Pocahontas Seam
Loose Cannon always produces the unusual. The company can be counted upon to produce subjects that have not been offered before and are unlikely to be offered in the future from any other model producer. The same is true here, so don’t waste your time in holding your breath for a Trumpeter 1:700 scale Seam class collier. The Pocahontas Seam is a typical Loose Cannon release with a multimedia approach with resin parts and a full brass photo-etch fret. The resin castings are average with some clean up required but the photo-etch fret is comprehensive.

Smaller Resin Parts
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The basic hull casting serves its purpose. It provides the actual shape and provides a medium amount of cast on detail.  The rounded, utilitarian, merchant hull didn’t have much unique features on the hull sides so hull side detail is limited to the anchors on each side and weeper slots in the solid deck bulkheads to allow deck water to leave the ship’s decks through those slots. The base level of the amidship and aft superstructure is integral to the hull castings with porthole and access door detail. Deck detail is more plentiful but still in keeping with the no frills approach of merchant ships. At the bow is a nice windlass with a short run to hollow anchor hawse fittings. Right behind the windlass is a breakwater. The breakwater, as well as the solid deck bulkheads, are too thick but can be replaced with thin plastic panels, if required. The advantage of the thick bulkheads is that it minimizes possibility of damage during shipment. There are four cargo hatches forward and six hatches aft of the forward superstructure. They are all located on a raised coaming. The two cargo decks are clear of other features except for locator holes for the cargo derricks. The only equipment on the quarterdeck cast integral to the hull in a stern windlass.

Smaller Resin Parts
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A resin casting sheet contains additional deckhouses, platforms and fittings. All parts will need to be removed from the sheet and gently sanded to remove resin sheet residue. Two additional levels of superstructure are provided for the forward superstructure and one level for the aft superstructure. Loose Cannon identifies each resin part by letter that corresponds to the letter used for that part in the instructions. Other parts found on the resin sheet are davits, twin bollard plate fittings, closed chock fittings, compass platforms, and assorted other small fittings. Three resin runners provide even more smaller resin parts. One runner includes the funnel with exhaust cap detail, galley exhaust, large cowled ventilator, large bow anchors, search lights and square ventilators. A second runner has the ship’s boats, cable reel, small cowled ventilators and small anchors. The third runner has parts the kingposts for three different pattern cargo derricks. The only casting error seen was a casting error in the starboard amidship outside deck bulkhead where at one location the weep slot expanded from a narrow slot to add an indented crescent. One other minor defect was a slight amount of damage to the angle of the forward superstructure solid wing bulkhead. Other cleanup involves removal of a small amount of resin casting spall from the cargo decks. Minimal cleanup is needed to clean the resin runner parts.

Brass Photo-Etch Fret
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A very inclusive brass photo-etch fret is included. A large percentage of this detail is for the superstructure deck railings. The largest brass parts are for the bracing frames that run between the two kingposts for each cargo derrick. There are the parts for a multi-piece foremast. Other brass parts include numerous circular deck access plates, anchor chain, derrick stays, jack staff, ensign staff, platform railing, inclined ladders, vertical ladders, cargo cranes, platform bracing, life buoys, galley stack stays, superstructure bracing, block and tackle and even a selection of seamen. The decal sheet provides markings for the ship as she appeared under the US , Yugoslav and Bulgarian flags. Each country’s flag is supplied, along with the stack markings, stern name plate with home port and bow name plates. The sheet throws in two Bulgarian home port stern names, Varna and Burgas.

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Ten pages are included in the instructions. Page one is the history and general instructions. Back-printed is page two, which has a parts lay-down. Page three (labeled Kit 94 page 1) has the railing and inclined ladders placements with inserts for compass platform assembly, inclined ladder folding and crane assemblies. Back-printed to this and labeled Kit 94 page 2 is the quarterdeck assembly in two modules. The next sheet, labeled page 3 on the front and page 4 on the reverse have superstructure and mast assembly on the front and cargo derricks and rigging on the reverse. Four single pages are included, three with photographs of the ship and one with a full color profile and plan, including variations of funnel markings as the stack color changed with a change in ownership.

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SS Pocahontas Seam by Loose Cannon Models in 1:700 scale, presents a unique opportunity for the modeler. The kit comes with resin and photo-etch parts to build this Liberty Ship based collier design in different guises, flying the US , Yugoslav or Bulgarian flags with different name plates and funnel markings.