Radio enthusiasts or ‘anoraks’ won’t like my revelation much, but during the course of this article I will be stating quite categorically who owns the MV Ross Revenge. I am of course, putting my life in danger by publishing this.
Anoraks spend a lot of their time confused and find things (such as reality) hard to understand. This makes them frustrated and angry. As ‘fans’ of the hype surrounding offshore radio, they look at everything with rose-coloured glasses on. What they see is a dummy projected image which is far from reality. Show them reality and they try to bite you because they can’t cope with having to believe it! That’s when they lash out at those that are doing the equivalent of telling them that Father Christmas doesn’t exist, and which is why my concluding paragraph to this article is written purely to upset them. The background to the history of the ownership of the Ross Revenge is completely true and beyond disputing.
The Ross Revenge is the large ship that was used in the 1980s in order to broadcast Radio Caroline and other stations from the middle of the North Sea. This was just about in the dying days of people being interested in the kind of radio that offshore stations could provide. In those days a lot of people wanted to hear near non-stop pop music. Non-stop pop music was not allowed on the licensed radio stations on land owing to a prohibitive practice of the Musicians Union which allocated radio stations a limited amount of ‘needle-time’, or time when records could be played, forcing radio stations to have to program a lot of other rubbish to cover for the lack of permission to play near non-stop music. During this period offshore radio still had a value.
Once the stranglehold was lifted in the late 1980s and licensed radio was able to do as it pleased, then offshore radio had no real purpose, and nobody but a few hundred ‘anoraks’ was listening to it any more.
In the end the Ross Revenge, once proudly beaming out its signal and throbbing away as a beacon of pop music, grew silent and eventually got ship-wrecked on the Goodwin Sands.
Now, back in 1980 a company was formed in order to eventually secure ownership of the Ross Revenge. The company, Grothan Steemship Lines Inc was formed in Panama, and included on its board some highly, er, “distinguished” characters, and its single asset was of course the Ross Revenge. At the time, it was difficult to access company information and international relationships were not as relaxed as they are now, so the Governments of Europe were unable to determine much about the company beyond the fact that it owned the Ross Revenge and operated Radio Caroline. The trail stopped dead, so the actual ownership of the company was a mystery to the outside world. And that was the idea. The alternative would be that Radio Caroline’s operators could be compromised if they were, for example, actually living and running everything from the UK.
To confuse issues, a few years later in 1982, a Netherlands based company Grotham Steamship Lines was formed. It had and has never had any involvement in the ownership of the Ross Revenge, despite appearing to claim it does. I would speculate that this was somebody attempting to claim the Ross Revenge as an asset in exchange for a mortgage or investment, but I’m not sure of the details.
It was on behalf of Grothan Steemship Lines Inc of Panama, the owners of the ship and Radio Caroline, that two of the crew of the Ross Revenge signed paperwork entering into a contract with the Dover Harbour Board for them to ‘salvage’ the ship as agents for Grothan Steemships, when the ship was stuck on the Goodwin Sands. Dover Harbour Board bravely did this and presented their bill.
It was at this point that Grothan Steemships went completely silent. One might speculate they didn’t want to release funds for whatever reason, including the lack of them. It’s also possible they knew that they could avoid payment because there were ‘anoraks’ quite happy to pay on their behalf. Indeed, the ‘Ross Revenge Support Group’, a working name for a group of enthusiasts, did pay the bills instead of Grothan Steemships. Now, this is a bit like me holding back on paying my electricity bill, and you, dear reader, coming along and paying it for me.
No matter how many times you turn up and pay bills relating to my house so I don’t have to, it remains my house, and your generosity doesn’t buy you any rights over my property. The same is true regarding the Ross Revenge. It remains owned by Grothan Steemships, even though random gentlemen keep turning up and painting and decorating and fixing the bits that need to be fixed. I only wish I had people doing that with my house. People paying my bills and repairing my house so I don’t have to would be terrific.
And for Grothan Steemships it is also terrific that a swarm of buzzing anoraks regularly board Grothan’s property and look after it for them.
However, the Ross Revenge remains owned by Grothan Steemship Lines of Panama. The only way the issue could be forced is if Grothan Steemships itself ran up bills that it didn’t pay. Then the ship could be seized and disposed of as the seizer saw fit. As it is, most of the bills being run up regarding the Ross Revenge are not being run up with the agreement of the company. Those occupying the ship are the ones running up the bills for services not authorised by the owners, and so therefore the owners are not directly liable. Stalemate.
This remains the status all these decades later. The ship is worked on and bills are paid by people who don’t own it. It is owned by people not paying any bills or working on it.
There comes a time when maybe some formalised agreement should be reached between owner and occupants. Maybe that time is now. The ‘Ross Revenge Support Group’ needs to speak to the owner. The problem is they don’t know who actually owns the company and therefore owns the Ross Revenge and the offshore operation as Radio Caroline.
Now then. A decade or so ago I met up with the owner. He challenged me to a game of snooker. High stakes snooker. He goaded me into putting my collection of classic cars on the table. I goaded him to putting Grothan Steemships on the table. We played a hard long game. I won. I am now the owner of Grothan Steemship Lines of Panama, and so the Ross Revenge is mine. Unbelievable, eh?