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World's first round-the-world ship crewed by disabled docks in London

by Harry Turner 24 Sep 2014 15:00 BST 19 September 2014
Lord Nelson sails into London © Jubilee Sailing Trust

The first ship to circle the world with disabled crew members completed its two-year journey on Friday as it moored alongside HMS Belfast on the Thames in central London.

38 people, of whom 13 were disabled, including some blind, wheelchair bound and epileptic crew members, helped manoeuvre the 55-metre ship under Tower Bridge to its mooring.

Lord Nelson was crewed by a disabled and able-bodied team and accompanied by Tenacious, its 65-metre sister ship. During its voyage quadriplegic, deaf, PTSD and road traffic sufferers have all crewed the ship.

Both ships belong to the Jubilee Sailing Trust, which gives people of all physical abilities, including those with significant disabilities, the opportunity to experience life changing experiences outside their normal routine.

Lord Nelson, which cost £2 million to build, was custom built and utilises technology that includes a mouthpiece that allows quadriplegics to steer the ship with their mouth.

Purpose-built equipment means that users can reach the crow's nest at sea, which is so high people can see the curvature of the earth, and partially-sighted or blind people can climb the rigging. The ship also has wheelchair lifts between decks, braille signage, hearing loops and hand rails.

Jubilee Sailing Trust's partnership with global legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright was established in October 2012.

The Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World challenge set sail from Southampton in September 2012, and since then has carried the Olympic Torch to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and crossed the Indian Ocean to Kochi, India.

She took part in the International Fleet Review in Sydney Harbour, and was the first mixed-ability vessel to sail around the infamous Cape Horn in southern Chile in February this year.

Duncan Souster, Chief Executive of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, said:

"This is a fantastic achievement by all those on board. They've travelled 51,000 miles and visited over 30 countries, all to promote the message of inclusion and in the process had a truly life-changing experience navigating the world's oceans. The dedication of our expert team is helping to change the perception of what can be achieved by disabled people."

Tim Marsden, deputy managing partner at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, said:

"We are immensely proud to have been involved in such a hugely ambitious project. We have supported disadvantaged and disabled communities, financially and voluntarily, through the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge, which has seen our people and our clients raise disability awareness and promote diversity on a global scale."

During its voyage the ship:

  • Travelled 51,000 nautical miles
  • Crossed the equator 6 times
  • Was crewed by over 1,000 people – including 350 with a physical disability
  • Served over 2 million meals
  • Consumed ½ a million apples
  • Called in to over 100 different ports
About the Jubilee Sailing Trust

The Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) is a registered charity whose mission is to promote the integration of people of all physical abilities through the challenge and adventure of tall ship sailing aboard two very special ships, Lord Nelson and Tenacious. We offer both able-bodied and disabled people holidays where you get the chance to experience working together in a fantastic environment. We also find a number of people take the opportunity to go on one of our tall ship sailing adventures by themselves – making a JST voyage a great adventure holiday for everyone.

The Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge

During her inaugural 23-month circumnavigation of the world, the 55-metre square rigger, Lord Nelson, will log six Equator crossings and visit 30 countries on seven continents. More than 1,000 people will have the opportunity to sail on the vessel during this 52,000-mile voyage. It is the first time that an accessible square-rigged sailing ship has undertaken such a journey crewed by disabled sailors alongside their able-bodied peers.

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