May 2015 sees the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the WW2 evacuation of Dunkirk – known as Operation Dynamo. The main event is a planned return of approximately 60 Dunkirk Little Ships that will sail from Ramsgate to Dunkirk.
As part of the mustering activity for the fleet a number of ships were due to spend the weekend of 16th – 17th May in London’s Royal Docks – this festival was jointly arranged between the Royal Docks Management Authority and the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.
Unfortunately on the Friday before the event the forecast of bad weather meant that an earlier departure from the Royal Docks would be needed and thus the Sunday festival was cancelled.
However, 19 Dunkirk Little Ships still arrived at the Royal Docks to spend Saturday evening through to Sunday morning in the Docks and to take part in a sail-past on the Saturday evening.
Rather strangely this was being billed as part of the UK wide “Museums at Night” event which was a bit a stretch of the imagination as a short sail-past of some visiting ships in the dock didn’t seem much like an after-hours access to a museum but I suppose any free publicity is worth having.
The ships gathered in the lock and then made their way through the Royal Docks waters until reaching their overnight resting place near the Emirates Cable Car.
There were a lot of people out to see the ships arrive and numerous vantage points throughout the Royal Docks were used.
One strange thing was that it appeared that nobody from the Royal Docks Management Authority was at either the KGV Lock or the Royal Victoria Dock berth to greet the Ships – hopefully someone was there for the press interview as otherwise it would be strange for the organisers not to be involved in any way.
A shame it is only a fleeting visit but great to see these historic ships and lots of people were enjoying the chance – fortunately, for anyone that missed them this time, this isn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity as Dunkirk Little ships can be seen at other events in London – most notably St Katharine Docks will be hosting the Classic Boat Festival in September.
The fleet made an early departure on the Sunday morning to ensure a safe arrival at Ramsgate and a video of the boats coming through the Royal Docks can be seen here.
Some more pictures from the event can be seen here.