Bro Alex McIsaac passed to the Grand Lodge above on 6th July and we had an obituary for him in Twelve Talk 98. He was remembered formally at our Regular Meeting as the gentleman and committed Freemason that he was.

I was doing some research into Bro RL Scott, arguably the most eminent Past Master of No XII. Amongst other things Bro Scott was a shipbuilder (Chairman of Scotts’ Shipbuilding and Engineering Company), a big game hunter, an adventurer, a swordsman of national prominence and a collector of arms and armoury. It was in the shipbuilding connection that I came upon a photograph taken in Scotts’ Engine Works around 1975. It depicted the team that had been principally involved in the construction of Engine No 833, built for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Grange. There, clearly visible in the back row was Bro Alex McIsaac who, at the time, was a draughtsman in the Engine Works Drawing Office. Bro Alex is 9th, from the left, easily identifiable by his characteristic dark hair.

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Fort Grange was laid down in 1973, by Scotts’ in the Cartsburn Dockyard, launched in 1976 and commissioned the next year. The ship saw her first war service during the Falklands War, and also supported British forces in the  Balkans alongside at the port of Split from at least 1994 till 2000, being based at Cervena Luka (North Port) an area just outside Split, Croatia. The lead ship in her class of fleet replenishment ships, Fort Grange was renamed Fort  Rosalie in May 2000 to avoid confusion with the (now-decommissioned) RFA Fort George, a change which was not universally popular. In May 2008 the ship entered a £28 million refit at Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders' Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead.

In August 2010, through the efforts of The Friends of Scotts’ Shipbuilders society she returned to Greenock to help commemorate the 300th anniversary, in 2011, of Scotts’. She was berthed at the container terminal and many people (myself included) visited her. In 2011 it was announced that her service life would be extended by two years to 2024; the Fort class will ultimately be replaced by the Fleet Solid Support element of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability programme. She spent early 2012 in the Caribbean and made a brief deployment to the Gulf of Oman in December 2012; she exercised in home waters and entered refit at Cammell Laird’s again in February 2014.

On a personal note, I recognise a number of the Scotts’ personnel in the photo because I worked with Scotts’ engineers at the Cartsburn Fitting Out Basin between 1971 and 1976 when on University breaks. At that time No XII  stalwarts Bro Jim Adams PM, Jock Irvine and Billy Davis also worked in the Cartsburn yard and would have been involved with the Fort Grange. Sadly, these 3 brethren are now in the Grand Lodge Above.

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Bro Iain White PM





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