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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The more traditional tall ships visited Greenwich again operating pleasure trips and holding fireworks displays each of the three evenings they were in town.
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.
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.
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.
A French Navy Offshore Patrol vessel also paid a visit during the early part of the month.
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.
Arriving at the beginning of the month was the Belgian Navy’s sail training vessel Zenobe Gramme, quite a rare visitor to the Thames.
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.
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