Author Archives: AJBC

All going to PLAN

The first week of October was a special occasion when it came to naval visitors to the River Thames as it saw the arrival of three vessels from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Surface Force.

The three ships have been on a long-term deployment as part of China’s desire to promote its global influence and whilst in European waters they have conducted joint exercises with the Russian navy as well as visiting a number of European ports.

The first two vessels to arrive were a pair of Type 054A multi-role frigates in the shape of Huanggang (577) and Yangzhou (578) which are both less than 3 years old.

PLAN Huanggang (3) @ Gallions Reach 02-10-17

PLAN Yangzhou (5) @ Gallions Reach 02-10-17

This class of Frigate carries anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine missile launchers as well as a 76mm main gun and close-in weapons systems (CIWS) for self-defence – the ships are also each carrying one Harbin Z-9 SAR / ASW helicopters.

PLAN Huanggang (9) @ Gallions Reach 02-10-17

The Frigates will spend a few days in West India Dock.

PLAN Huanggang (13) @ Gallions Reach 02-10-17

The following video shows the two Frigates arriving on a very windy Thames.

Later that same day the Gaoyouhu (AOR 966), a Qiandaohu-class or Type 903A, replenishment ship arrived in London’s Royal Docks to spend a few days in the King George V dock.

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (1) @ Gallions Reach 02-10-17

As the Gaoyouhu is a large vessel it took two Svitzer tugs to help maneuver her through the Lock to her mooring in the King George V Dock.

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (12) @ KGV Lock 03-10-17

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (5) @ KGV Dock 03-10-17

This ship, which is less than two years old, carries fuel and solid stores and is equipped for Replenishment at Sea (RAS) operations and is also helicopter capable.

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (9) @ KGV Dock 03-10-17

Updated on 4th October – a trip up to West India Dock to see the two Frigates and their embarked Z-9C helicopters initially yielded another angle on the Gaoyouhu in KGV Dock.

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (3) @ KGV Dock 04-10-17

It was then over to WID to see the two Frigates that were alongside each other.

PLAN Type 054A Frigates (1) @ West India Dock 04-10-17

PLAN Type 054A Frigates (11) @ West India Dock 04-10-17

The main attraction was that both the embarked Z-9Cs were out on deck, although not best positioned to get clear photographs they are still extremely rare sightings!!

PLAN Type 054A Frigates (15) @ West India Dock 04-10-17

PLAN Harbin Z-9C (21) @ West India Dock 04-10-17

PLAN Harbin Z-9C (14) @ West India Dock 04-10-17

Update 7th October – all three Chinese Navy Warships have now left the Thames in London.

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (2) @ KGV Dock 07-10-17

Svitzer tugs Bootle and Brunel arrived at the King George V lock early afternoon and then proceeded in to the KGV Dock to tow PLAN Gaoyouhu backwards in to the lock and then out in to the Thames.

Svitzer Bootle + Svitzer Brunel (5) @ KGV Lock 07-10-17

Svitzer Bootle + Svitzer Brunel (5) @ KGV Dock 07-10-17

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (4) @ KGV Lock 07-10-17

Gaoyouhu AOR 966 (5) @ Gallions Reach 07-10-17

A full video of the tow is shown below.

The two Frigates that had been in West India Dock also passed down river in turn.

PLAN Yangzhou (3) @ Gallions Reach 07-10-17

PLAN Huanggang (8) @ Gallions Reach 07-10-17

As PLAN Huanggang passed by it also provided a chance to check out some of the weapons fit.

PLAN Huanggang (5) @ Gallions Reach 07-10-17

PLAN Huanggang (6) @ Gallions Reach 07-10-17

A few more pictures can be seen here.

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DSEi 2017

In early September 2017 it was time once again for the ExCel exhibition centre to be taken over for two weeks for the hosting of the biannual Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade show.

As is usual the event has a strong maritime element with a number of visiting warships and smaller craft that do demonstrations in the Royal Victoria Dock.

The first vessel to arrive was HMS Mersey, a Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel.

HMS Mersey P283 (14) @ Gallions Reach 08-09-17

In total five Royal Navy vessels were in attendance, including HMS Argyll (F231), HMS Cattistock (M31), HMS Puncher (P291) and HMS Trumpeter (P294).

HMS Argyll F231 (3) @ Gallions Reach 09-09-17

HMS Cattistock (1) @ RAD 15-09-17

HMS Puncher P291  &  HMS Trumpeter P294 (6) @ KGV Lock 11-09-17

The Irish Defence Forces also sent one of their Offshore Patrol Vessels, the LE Samuel Beckett (P61).

LE Samuel Beckett P61 (2) @ Gallions Reach 10-09-17

Final vessel to attend was the the Belgian Navy’s coastal patrol vessels the BNS Pollux (P902).

BNS Pollux P902 (14) @ Gallions Reach 11-09-17

Among the smaller craft on display one was the BAE Systems Marine Pacific 950 RIB that is able to operated in a manned, remotely operated or autonomous mode.

Pacific 950 RIB (13) @ RVD 12-09-17

The Royal Marines also undertook a ship boarding role demonstration.

Royal Marines (17) @ RVD 13-09-17

The star, for me, was the JFD SEAL Carrier which is capable of carrying up to 8 people and can operate as a high-speed surface craft or in either semi or fully submerged mode for covert surveillance or force insertion roles.

SEAL Carrier (9) @ RVD 12-09-17

SEAL Carrier (23) @ RVD 13-09-17

Several other RIBs also took part in the display in the dock.

USMI Nunya Interceptor (7) @ RVD 13-09-17

Supacat Goldfish SC12 (4) @ RVD 13-09-17

For more pictures of the Warships click here and for more pictures of the various smaller craft click here.

All too soon the ships left the Royal Docks again and the waters returned to their normal empty stillness – until next time……

The White Swan in West India Dock

For the past four days South Quay in West India Dock has been the temporary home to the Brazilian Navy’s sail training ship Cisco Branco (White Swan).

NVe Cisne Branco U20 (2) @ West India Dock 24-08-17

She is paying her first visit to London but has been a regular visitor to European waters since she was launched in the Netherlands back in 1999.

NVe Cisne Branco U20 (9) @ West India Dock 24-08-17

She has been taking part in the recent Tall Ships Racing series in the Baltic (an event won by the TS Royalist) and is making various port calls as she heads back to her homeport in Rio.

NVe Cisne Branco U20 (10) @ West India Dock 24-08-17

As a sail training ship she is used as a floating classroom for naval cadets as well as acting as a goodwill ambassador.

She is a a sleek ship constructed from steel but with wood and brass fittings to give her the characteristic look of a sailing ship but using modern designs and materials. She is also quite a bit smaller than the BAP Union which had visited West India Dock a few weeks before.

NVe Cisne Branco U20 (5) @ West India Dock 24-08-17

The crew were very friendly and very happy to show visitors around their fine vessel and they had been enjoying the sights of London.

NVe Cisne Branco U20 (17) @ West India Dock 24-08-17

A short video from onboard can be seen here and further pictures can be seen here.

NVe Cisne Branco U20 (18) @ West India Dock 24-08-17

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