Swan appointed as one of National Historic Ships UK Flagships of the Year

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13 June 2023

The Swan is one of six vessels to be named Flagships of the Year 2023 by National Historic Ships UK (NHS-UK).

Running since 2009, the Awards provide an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate the value of historic vessels to the wider public, with applications assessed on the vessel’s seasonal programmes and planned level of outreach. The Swan was awarded in recognition of her participation in the Tall Ships Races 2023, the projected visitor numbers resulting from this, and the strength of her links with local groups and communities.

Peter Campbell, Trustee of The Swan Trust SCIO, said: “We are truly honoured to receive this award, and really looking forward to participating in all 4 legs of the 2023 Tall Ships Races, which will see the Swan visiting ports in the Netherlands, England, Shetland and Norway. This is just part of what is a very busy sailing diary for us this year, including a variety of school, youth and community group trips both within and out with Shetland, as well as trips open to the public. Everywhere we go we will be proud to ‘fly the flag’ for maritime heritage.”

Competition was particularly strong for the coveted accolade this year, and NHS-UK has awarded six very different craft the status of Flagship of the Year 2023; three operational and three static vessels, based around the UK.

The 2023 Flagships of the Year are:

  • Swan - former Shetland fishing vessel converted to a sail training ship welcoming all ages and abilities
  • Lady of the Lake - Victorian Lake District ‘steamer’ believed to be the oldest working passenger vessel in the world
  • The Chieftain - former Barmouth lifeboat which saved 132 lives and now offers public boat trips from Whitstable Harbour
  • HMS Caroline - the last remaining survivor of the WWI Battle of Jutland, now a museum ship in Belfast
  • LV21 - 40 metre steel-hulled lightship which now operates as an art, culture and performance space moored on the River Thames at Gravesend
  • Marjorie R - former West Yorkshire coal barge converted into a floating independent bookshop in Leeds Dock

The 2023 Flagships will receive a special broad pennant to fly at the masthead and a brass plaque. Each Flagship will be holding a flag-hoisting ceremony during June 2023 to celebrate its new status, with Swan holding her ceremony in Anstruther on 16th June, before she heads out to Den Helder for the start of The Tall Ships Races. The presentation will be made by Jane Ryder, Chair of Trustees at the Scottish Fisheries Museum, which is fitting as the Museum is also the Scottish Hub for the NHS-UK Shipshape Network.

Flagships promote the role of NHS-UK by publicising its annual Photo Competition, Excellence in Maritime Conservation and Marsh Volunteer Awards. They will also be flying the flag as ambassadors for the UK’s maritime heritage sector. NHS-UK will work closely with each of the Flagships to promote their vessel and offer support and advice.

Anyone can sail on Swan, for details of trips available to book check out our upcoming trips

If you would like to help support Swan follow these links to donate or volunteer with the Trust.

Find out more about the Flagships:

Operational Flagships:


Lady of the Lake

The Chieftan

Static Flagships:

HMS Caroline


Marjorie R


Want to get involved in maintaining and operating a traditional wooden sailing vessel? There are a number of different ways you can volunteer to safeguard, care for and sail this unique heritage asset.

Learn more

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