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Rendez-Vous review

So all but the last two sailing ships have now left the Thames after a busy Easter weekend of tall ship action on the river Thames in London, the background to the event can be found here.

Tall Ships (10) @ Woolwich 11-04-17

It is always nice to see the tall ships visiting London and quite a few new ones were seen as part of the combined  Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta / Sail Royal Greenwich event.

Tall Ships (13) @ Greenwich 16-04-17

Inevitably with such events some of the anticipated participants weren’t able to attend and there were a limited number of the larger A class vessels but that didn’t detract from the spectacle of seeing 26 vessels from 8 countries on the Thames.

Tall Ship (56) @ River Thames 13-04-17

As with previous Sail Greenwich events some of the vessels ran excursions along the Thames and there was a firework display each evening.

Tall Ship (82) @ River Thames 13-04-17

Tall Ship (43) @ River Thames 13-04-17
RDV2017 Fireworks @ Woolwich 15-04-17 (18)
RDV2017 Fireworks @ Woolwich 15-04-17 (19)

Some additional pictures of the Saturday evening’s fireworks at Woolwich can be seen here.

The event culminated in Parade of Sail from Greenwich down river with the Rendez-Vous 2017 race participants heading to Torbay and the other vessels going on to their next destinations.

Tall Ships (5) @ Greenwich 16-04-17

Tall Ships (31) @ Greenwich 16-04-17

Tall Ships (45) @ Greenwich 16-04-17

More pictures of the Parade of Sail can be seen here and the full set of pictures from the event can be seen here.

There will be several more Tall Ship visitors to London during 2017 and lets hope it isn’t too long until we see another large gathering on the Thames.

Featured post

#dlr_blog review of 2016

2016 was another varied and interesting year in the #dlr_blog area of coverage with lots of vessels coming up the Thames of all shapes and sizes and quite a few first time visitors although there was a marked reduction in the number of bulk cargo carriers visiting Silvertown.

The Royal Docks were busy although most of this was traffic generated by  building works or events taking place at the Excel exhibition centre rather than activities specifically utilising the water.

So, on with the review.

January

Most of the movements at the beginning of the month were connected with the annual London Boat show that takes place at the Excel exhibition centre and one of the features was the debut of the Sunseeker 131 in the shape of Zozo.Sunseeker 131 (12) @ Gallions Reach 06-01-16

Towards the end of the month three ships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) spent the weekend in the Royal Docks, a rare but welcome visit. A full report can be seen here.NATO Frigates (2) @ RVD 30-01-16

February

This was a quieter month but did see the year’s first visit of a Royal Navy Archer Class patrol boat in the form of HMS Trumpeter – she and her sister vessels were to make several more visits during the year.HMS Trumpeter P294 (8) @ Gallions Reach 13-02-16

The month also saw the year’s first cargo ship to use Murphy’s wharf in Charlton on one of the occasional export runs from the middle Thames. For this trip the Celtic Mariner was in use.
Celtic Mariner (3) @ Gallions Reach 23-02-16

March

The biennial Oceanology International event took place at Excel and attracted a number of visiting vessels of various shapes and sizes including the RV Mintis that is owned and operated by the Klaipeda University in Lithuania. A full report on the vessels attending the event can be seen here.
Mintis (7) @ Royal Docks 12-03-16

The KGV Dock and Lock continued to be used for a variety of things from the long-term storage of unoccupied Houseboats through to the loading of marine engineering equipment onto barges, one such visit saw Thamescraft Drydocking’s multicat Devour bring in a pontoon to load up some dredging equipment.
Devour (4) @ KGV Lock 24-03-16

April

The middle of the month saw three ships from the German Navy’s 3rd German Minesweeping Squadron arrive on the Thames to spend a few days in West India Dock where they were open to the public – a report of a visit on-board the ships can be seen here.
German Navy Minesweepers @ Gallions Reach 15-04-16

The end of the month also saw the first cruise ship of the season arrive on the Thames for a stay alongside HMS Belfast in the shape of L’Austral.
L'Austral (5) @ Woolwich Reach 30-04-16

May

May was a very busy and varied month that included visiting warships, cargo ships, tugs, luxury yachts, tall ships and cruise liners.

Viking Cruises brought their 2nd new ship to Greenwich for her christening making her the largest vessel to be named on the Thames, a full report can be seen here.
Viking Sea (23) @ River Thames 05-05-16

A slightly more unusual vessel seen on the Thames and in the Royal Docks during the month was an amphibious vehicle called the Humdinga, it was in London for some demonstration runs and promotional work and is one of a range of vehicles produced by Gibbs, the manufacturer. See here for a full report.
Humdinga (20) @ Bargehouse Road 19-05-16

June

Two sail training ships paid a visit to West India Dock during the month with the USCG’s Eagle and the Mexican Navy’s Cuauhtemoc spending a few days in West India Dock. See here for a full report.
ARM Cuauhtemoc + USCG Eagle (1) @ West India Dock 09-06-16

There is a huge amount of engineering and development work taking place on and around the Thames in London and this is bringing in a number of visiting tugs, pontoons and workboats but is also encouraging local firms to add new vessels to their fleets.SWS Suffolk (1) @ KGV Lock 27-06-16

As part of the Thames Tideway tunnel project the month saw a visit by the tug Forth Trojan with crane barge Forth Olympian and this was assisted by S Walsh’s new pusher tug SWS Suffolk. A full report can be seen here.

July

This month saw the arrival of two new tugs for the Livett’s Group fleet in the shape of Christian and Felix joining a growing number of vessels operating on the Thames that feature a hydraulic lifting wheelhouse that allows them to pass under low bridges but also to see over loaded barges.
Felix + Christian (4) @ KGV Lock 04-07-16

The first outing for the new tugs was to assist with Virgin Media’s #Bethefastest promotion – details can be seen here.

The month also saw the very rare visit of a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force training ship, the JS Kashima, which was one of three Japanese ships undertaking a round-the-world training cruise.
JS Kashima TV-3508 (4) @ Gallions Reach 31-07-16

August

The Royal Docks was quite busy during the month with two large pontoons and huge amounts of wood being used for the 350th anniversary commemorations of the Fire of London with all the setup work taking place in the docks, a full report can be seen here.
London's Burning (12)

The new Blackfriars Pier also spent a few weeks being fitted out in the Docks and the Totally Thames festival’s ‘Floating Dreams’ installation was also constructed here.

Meanwhile, out on the Thames the everyday working vessels continued to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week carrying building materials and waste to and from London.
Charlemagne (2) @ Gallions Reach 22-08-16

September

London was visited by the sinister looking, and expensive, superyacht A at the start of the month. An example of the more modern type of ships that visit the Thames.
A (3) @ Gallions Reach 03-09-16

The more traditional tall ships visited Greenwich again operating pleasure trips and holding fireworks displays each of the three evenings they were in town.
Oosterschelde (1) @ Gallions Reach 17-09-16

A community art project also took place in the area with an artist building a ship out of recycled wood on the site of the former Harland & Woolf shipyard, a report of the build process can be seen here and the launch can be seen here.
Seadog (6) @ Gallions Reach 18-09-16

October

Tugs + Good Hotel (28) @ KGV Lock 13-10-16

This month saw lots of activity in the Royal Docks as the new floating hotel was delivered on the back of a semi-submersible transport barge that was almost as wide as the KGV Lock. Blog reports of the arrival of the hotel can be seen here and the departure of the empty transporter barge can be seen here.

The following video shows the barge leaving the Royal Docks.

The month also saw visits by two warships and two luxury yachts including a visit from Lady S.
Lady S (1) @ Gallions Reach 19-10-16

November

November began with a number of military vessels paying a visit to London which included two University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) Archer Class patrol vessels that took part in the Lord Mayor’s show.
HMS Smiter P272 (7) @ Gallions Reach 11-11-16

A French Navy Offshore Patrol vessel also paid a visit during the early part of the month.
FS Flamant P676 (1) @ Gallions Reach 10-11-16

Later in the month the SS Robin pontoon was temporarily moved from it’s normal berth in the Royal Docks due to filming taking place and it was returned a week later – a report can be seen here.
Maddog + SS Robin (9) @ Royal Victoria Dock 07-11-16

December

Arriving at the beginning of the month was the Belgian Navy’s sail training vessel Zenobe Gramme, quite a rare visitor to the Thames.

BNS Zenobe Gramme A958 (7) @ Gallions Reach 02-12-16

The year ends as it started with boats taking part in the London Boat Show which is held at the Excel exhibition centre in early January.

Princess Yachts (8) @ KGV 14-12-16

Here is a video of some of the yachts arriving in the Royal Docks.

That concludes the review of 2016, some big events to look forward to in the coming year including a large number of tall ships for the Tall Ship race in April and naval vessels for the defence exhibition in September – follow #dlr_blog for updates.

A few vessel statistics for 2016 (some vessels visited more than once):

Bulk cargo ships     22
Naval vessels           25
Cruise ships             10
Sailing ships            22

Where the big ships go

A business trip to Suffolk took me close to Felixstowe and it would have been rude not to call in to see some of the shipping traffic using the port complex and thus we have another #dlr_blog on tour report.

The Port of Felixstowe is the largest and busiest in the UK and is able to handle the largest container ships that ply the world’s oceans.

Port of Felixstowe (1) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

The location at the confluence of the rivers Stour and Orwell also means that you get to see the shipping traffic using the various quays at Harwich and also the vessels coming to and from the port of Ipswich.

Here the Ro-Ro cargo vessel Severine arrives enroute to Harwich.

Severine (1) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

In the other direction the general cargo ship Neuland is see heading outbound from Ipswich.

Neuland (1) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

The port is primarily used by transoceanic container ships but also serves small feeder ships and Ro-Ro cargo ferries.

Severine (7) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

The largest arrival whilst I was there came in the shape of Maersk Kowloon still showing the markings of the ship’s previous owners.

Maersk Kowloon  (4) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

These ships are an impressive sight!

Maersk Kowloon  (3) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

Moored alongside the quay in the final stages of loading was MSC Zoe, it departed later that evening.

MSC Zoe (1) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

Interesting to see some much larger vessels than are normally seen within the #dlr_blog area of coverage although one recent cargo visitor to the middle Thames was noted departing from Ipswich.

Sider Maracaibo (1) @ Felixstowe 15-08-17

Some more pictures of the various ships can be seen here.

Getting Chili in the Docks

London based company CPBS Marine Services are regular visitors to the KGV Lock in London’s Royal Docks and the latest visit saw the latest addition to their fleet make its first visit.

Chili Dog (1) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

The Multicat is called Chili Dog in keeping with the canine theme of fleet boat names and boasts a large load area as well as an onboard crane that allows the vessel to support a wide variety of taskings.

ChiliDog (4) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

Another benefit is that is has a shallow draft and low wheelhouse that allows it to work the tidal Thames and adjacent waterways. More details about the vessel here.

ChiliDog (6) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

The purpose of today’s visit was to load various items of equipment to support one of the many Thames marine engineering projects. The first item was the unglamourous but essential portaloo!

Chili Dog (12) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

Then a dive equipment container provided by UMC International and a compressor – both of which were delivered on a HIAB Lorry supplied by Phill Bascombe Transport Ltd.

Lorry (2) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

Lorry (5) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

Chili Dog (16) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

Once everything had been securely placed on board Chili Dog was off up the Thames to the worksite.

Chili Dog (20) @ KGV Lock 14-08-17

Chili Dog (2) @ Gallions Reach 14-08-17

More pictures can be seen here.

An encounter with George H.W. Bush

(or Navy Grey on a very rainy day!!)

Occasionally I do a blog post about things outside the normal #dlr_blog area of coverage and when the chance to go and see George H.W. Bush presents itself it would be a shame to let it pass by.

The object of interest is actually the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) which is the 10th and final Nimitz-class supercarrier built for the United States Navy and it has been spending a few days moored in Stokes Bay in the Solent off Gosport prior to taking part in some naval exercises in the waters around the UK.

CVN77 GHWB (10) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

She is a sizeable vessel with a displacement of  114,000 tons) and is 1092 feet longs, 252 feet wide but can still make at least 30 knots. She also carries a mixed fleet of up to 90 aircraft comprising of F18 fighter jets, E2 Hawkeye surveillance planes and H60 helicopters.

CVN77 GHWB (30) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

In addition to her aircraft the carrier also packs a significant defencive punch with 2 × Mk 29 RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile launchers , 2 × RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile launchers and 3 Phalanx CIWS gun mounts as well as numerous .50 caliber machine gun positions.

CVN77 GHWB (14) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

This is definitely one hornet’s nest that you don’t want to mess with!!

CVN77 GHWB (11) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

It did seem like some of the crew were somewhat bemused by the boatloads of onlookers that were braving torrential rain to come and have a close look at their vessel!

CVN77 GHWB (4) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

The MOD Police were out on patrol keeping a close eye on the various sightseeing and passing vessels to make sure nobody strayed into the exclusion zone.

CVN77 GHWB (21) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

More photos can be seen here.

It is interesting to note that the new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy are not that much smaller than USS George H.W. Bush, something to look forward to in coming years as both a potent symbol of power projection and a pretty big tourist attraction!

CVN77 GHWB (31) @ Stokes Bay 28-07-17

On board Peruvian Navy tallship BAP Union

London is fortunate enough to get a wide variety of visiting sailing ships of various shapes and sizes but towards the end of July 2017 a very special visitor arrived on the River Thames in London.

BAP Union (31) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

The Peruvian Navy’s new tall ship the BAP Union was making a six day visit to London at the start of it’s maiden visit to Europe having being commissioned as recently as January 2016.

BAP Union (33) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

The BAP Union also holds the accolade of being the largest tall ship to visit London and also the second largest currently operational sail training ship (there are other, larger, sail powered vessels but these are cruise ships).

BAP Union (13) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

The BBC were filming whilst I was on board and as part of this two crew members climbed the mast.

BAP Union (11) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

BAP Union (14) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

During her stay in London she has been open to the public as not only does the ship act as a classroom for the trainee sailors but also as a floating embassador for Peru.

BAP Union (5) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

BAP Union (27) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

After leaving London the vessel will visit a number of other European countries on what will be a 6 month voyage of training and discovery for the crew.

BAP Union (6) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

Clicking on this link will show you a video taken on board the BAP Union.

Some more pictures can be seen here.

A big thank you to all the crew for hosting the visits and for sharing their enthusiasm for their fine ship and for their visit to London.

BAP Union (25) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

Postscript: I’m not sure if High Heels and Top Hats are a part of the crew’s normal attire but a nice bit of detail to be seen on the doors to the smallest rooms on the ship!!

BAP Union (20) @ West India Dock 27-07-17

Viking longboats on the Thames

Not Vikings of the axe wielding variety but ships belonging to the Viking Ocean Cruises company which started operations in 2015.  This year London was visited by all three of the ships that make up its current fleet of ocean going cruise liners.

Viking Sea (2) @ Gallions Reach 10-07-17

Of the three ships the Viking Sky was making it’s visit visit to the Thames and as with the other ships it spent a few days moored at the Greenwich Ship Tier.

Viking Sky (3) @ Gallions Reach 30-06-17

Officially classified as “Small Cruise Ships” they are still a tight squeeze through the Thames Barrier and have to moor at Greenwich.

Carrying 930 guests they have an overall length of 745 feet, a beam of 95 feet and a draft of 21 feet and the gross tonnage being almost 48000 tonnes.

Viking Star (4) @ Gallions Reach 18-06-17

A fourth ship, the Viking Spirit, is due to enter the fleet in 2018 and hopefully will pay a visit to the Thames next summer – further ships are also planned.

Viking Sky (4) @ Woolwich Reach 02-07-17

More pictures of the ships on their various visits to the Thames can be seen here.

Flying machines in KGV Dock

The waters of the King George V Dock in North Woolwich are usually pretty quiet with only the occasional tug or boat passing through but for one afternoon a year they become an international sporting arena.

This is when the European Freestyle Jet Ski Championship arrives in Newham to host a round of the competition in the UK by setting up camp at the Tereza Joanne boat floating venue in London’s Docklands.

DSC_0198 (2)

Over the course of the 5 hour event there were qualifying and finals for each of 4 experience or power categories and a best trick category with men and women, young and not so young, competitors from across the world taking part.

DSC_9181 (2)

The event generated a range of freestyle moves and some trills and spills as looping or barrel rolling a jet ski doesn’t always quite work as planned!!

DSC_8837 (2)

DSC_9080 (2)
Overall an entertaining afternoon in the sun watching the competitors going through their paces.

DSC_9785 (2)

Unfortunately the event wasn’t that well promoted and most of the spectators appeared to be family and friends of the competitors  – a real shame that RoDMA, Newham Council nor the local press appeared to promote the event and this has to raise doubts about the event returning in future years.

More pictures from the event can be seen here.

Giants in the Royal Docks

The ExCel exhibition centre sits on the dockside of Royal Victoria Dock and hosts a wide range of events and a few of these each year have a maritime theme and occasionally these events attract visiting vessels to the Royal Docks.

Siem Moxie + Atlantic Enterprise (2) @ RVD 08-06-17

One such event was the recent Offshore Wind Energy 2017 show. Whilst the event only attracted two visiting vessels that were part of the exhibition they were certainly difficult to miss and were an impressive sight both in the KGV Lock and also in Royal Victoria Dock – a shame the waters of the Royals are not graced with more visiting ships.

The two vessels in question were both examples of Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs) that help service windfarm installation projects by providing floating hotels for construction workers.

The Atlantic Enterprise was built in 1970 and has had several names and roles prior to being converted for the Offshore support role. She measures just over 82m in length with a breadth of 21m and weighs in around 6400t.

Atlantic Enterprise (7) @ Gallions Reach 05-06-17

Atlantic Enterprise (8) @ KGV Lock 08-06-17
In contrast the Siem Moxie was built in 2014 specifically for the role. She measures just over 74m in length with a breadth of 17m and weighs in around 2800t.

Siem Moxie (3) @ Gallions Reach 05-06-17

Siem Moxie (7) @ KGV Lock 08-06-17

More pictures of the two vessels can be seen here.

As is often the case with events at ExCel a couple of London based vessels also visited the Royal Docks to host corporate entertainment events for delegates. On this occasion both Moon Clipper and the Silver Sturgeon provided the transport.

Moon Clipper (2) @ KGV Dock 06-06-17

Silver Sturgeon (2) @ Gallions Reach 07-06-17

Hopefully there will be some more exhibition related vessels visiting the Royal Docks in the near future – keep posted on expected visitors here.