MLV Castor (A810)
As international trade increased significantly after World War II, more and larger ships came not only to the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but also smaller ones like Delfzijl up in the north. In response, a considerable number of Pilot Boats were ordered and commissioned by the Dutch Government. Castor spent most of her life as a Pilot Boat.
The Netherlands wanted to be one of the members of NATO. But money was tight in those days. Therefore the role of the Castor had to be two-fold. She was designed as both a Pilot Boat and also a Navy ship. She was commissioned by the Royal Netherlands Navy (pennant A810) and armed with a 3″/76 mm cannon on her foredeck. She would fire upon hostile vessels approaching the Dutch territorial waters uninvited. If required, Castor could be outfitted with an impressive array of additional armament; 2x 20mm Oerlikons, 2x 40 mm Bofors and even 2 depth charges.
Even more fascinating, the Castor‘s official wartime role was to facilitate the evacuation of the Dutch Royal family and/or the Dutch cabinet in case of (or increased risk of) a nuclear war and/or act as a ‘communications vessel’ for Atlantic convoys.
After 34 years of service Castor lost her commission as a Pilot Boat and was sold to a private company, which used her as a hydrographic survey vessel for a brief period. A British church society called SeaCare bought her in 1988. The ensuing 11 years she roamed the oceans of the world under her new name, Redeemer, with her crew providing help to those in need.
After her last stint with SeaCare she was sold to a new owner in 1999 who left her to nearly succumb to decay in the fishing port of Urk (The Netherlands). It was only in 2006 that Castor was rescued from demolition by her current owner and restoration could begin.
Castor is currently owned and operated through a foundation and is moored off the Antoine Platekade at the Rijnhaven in the center of Rotterdam. The captain/owner and those affiliated with Castor are all volunteers who donate their time and labor to the foundation in order to restore, maintain and operate this remarkable ship. Funding of this project is achieved through subsidies, sponsorships and private donations.