Many people in and around Southampton will have nostalgic childhood memories of school trips that took them abroad and away from their families for the first time.

With mum and dad left back home none of these jaunts were more exciting than the educational voyages that took place on the 20,527-ton Southampton-based liner, Nevasa.

The times and career of this vessel are recalled by maritime enthusiast Roy Dunera, from Winchester, marking a poignant date in the history of the ship, which was first designed to carry British servicemen around the world.

"It is exactly 28 years ago today, on February 14, 1975, that Nevasa set off on her final voyage to the scrapyard in Taiwan,'' says Roy, who has a special interest in the history of troopships.

"Nevasa started her last commercial trip, a cruise to West Africa, in December 1974 and then returned to Casablanca, where the passengers were flown back to the UK and she went on to Malta to discharge her stores.

"The ship then sailed on Valentine's Day with a skeleton crew for the breakers in the Far East.

"She was a very popular ship that became a household name in her life-span, carrying thousands of servicemen and later many schoolchildren.

"Nevasa has gone but she is not forgotten but remembered each year on Valentine's Day.''

A handsome-looking ship, with two masts, single funnel and white hull with its blue encircling band, Nevasa arrived at Southampton for the first time on July 15, 1956.

Built for the British India Line (BI) by Barclay Curle on the Clyde as the first trooper since the end of the Second World War, the ship was launched on November 30, 1955.

With accommodation for 500 officers and their families and 1,000 NCOs and men on the troop-deck, Nevasa introduced a new era of trooping by sea. She had many comforts compared with older vessels, including stabilisers to reduce rolling in rough seas.

Her maiden sailing, on July 27, 1956, was to Cyprus and there were 1,302 servicemen and families on board. The following month the ship should have sailed to the Far East but there was a hold-up because of the Suez crisis.

Nevasa did not have a long trooping career and when she was only eight years old the ship was withdrawn as the government began troop movements by air.

After she was laid up for two years in the River Fal, BI decided to spend £500,000 on converting her to an educational cruise ship which also had 230 private cabins for adult customers.

A brochure was sent to local authorities around the country describing what life would be like for youngsters on board.

"Fifty gaily-decorated dormitories accommodate the students, who are aged 12 and upwards,'' said the promotion literature. "Boys and girls have their own separate sections of the ship, with matrons and masters-at-arms to look after them, in addition to the educational staff.

"Lectures take place in 17 classrooms and a 450-seat assembly hall with stage and cinema screen. Other accommodation includes a recreation room, cafeteria, reading room, launderettes and hair-drying room for girls, tuckshop, games room and photographic developing room.

"As well as deck space for games and a heated swimming pool, there is a fully equipped surgery and hospital.

"In addition to doing school studies, the students can take part in dances, film shows, concerts, sing-songs, debates and quizzes.

"Cabin-class passengers have entirely separate accommodation, with their own sun and recreation decks, public rooms, bars and dining saloon, but can share in some lectures, entertainment and shore excursions.''

Nevasa made nearly 200 cruises in this role, steamed about 750,000 miles and carried 187,000 UK children and overseas students.

Again, this career was relatively short-lived until finally Nevasa fell victim of rising fuel costs and she was taken out of service.