2017 turned out to be a busy and varied year with many more cruise ship visitors and well as a significant number of warships – helped in part by the biennial DSEi defence show in the Royal Docks and a goodwill visit by a Chinese navy flotilla.
There were also a significant number of sailing ships seen during the year, largely thanks to the Rendezvous 2017 event taking place in Greenwich but a number of other first-time visitors also came to London.
The Royal Docks was quite busy this year with a large proportion being associated with Tideway Tunnel enabling works that were based in the KGV Lock.
So, on with the review.
Whilst January is typically a quieter month for visitors the river is still busy with various tugs, passenger boats and dredgers but the number of marine engineering projects that are taking place in London along the Thames at the moment means that there has been a steady stream of special equipment including jack-up and crane barges.
A more interesting and unusual visitor later in the month was former Gosport Ferry Gosport Queen which arrived on the Thames for conversion to a party boat to be named MV Pearl of London operated by London Party Boats Ltd.
The month started off with another new addition, this time another multi-cat for the CPBS Marine engineering fleet in the shape of Hound Dog – seen arriving on the Thames prior to painting in house colours.
The year’s first bulk carrier cargo ship to visit the Thames Refinery berth at Silvertown was the Oslo Venture I and this picture shows her departing down the Thames after unloading her cargo of raw cane sugar.
The month also saw the first of the year’s naval visitors in the shape of German Navy signals intelligence ship FGS Oker A53 – a photo report can be seen here.
The first half of March saw luxury yacht Justa Delia arrive on the Thames and she then spent the rest of the year based in West India Dock at Canary Wharf from where she made numerous trips down river over the following months.
March also saw the first visit of vessels from Thamescraft Drydocking in the Royal Docks this year with Multicat Devour and Workboat Device working with equipment barges in the dock.
The month also saw the extremely rare sight of a working cargo vessel in the Royal Docks – in this case it was the bulk carrier Haringvliet which arrived with a cargo of steel pipes that were then unloaded in the KGV Lock where BAM Nuttall had set-up a base of operations in support of the Thames Tideway tunnel project which would see significant numbers of vessel movements in the Lock over the following months.
The main event for April, and one of the key events of the year, was the sight of 26 sailing vessels from 8 countries that came to the Thames as part of the combined Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta and the Sail Royal Greenwich event. The former was the launch of the trans-Atlantic trip of a number of sailing ships to Canada to help mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada – a full report can be seen here and more pictures here.
The same Easter weekend also saw the arrival of 3 ships of the NATO Standing Naval Mine Counter Measures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) that spent the weekend in West India Dock.
At the beginning of the month the recently delivered CPBS Marine boat Hound Dog paid its first visit to the Royal Docks and was fully painted in their livery.
The month also saw the Indian Navy send one of their Frigates, the INS Tarkash, to spend a few days in West India Dock as part of a cultural and naval exchange visit to the UK.
Whilst not the first such visit of an Indian vessel to London it was still a rare and interesting event. A full report can be seen here.
Notable among the other visitors was Damen Shipyard’s superyacht support tender ‘Game Changer’ which spent a few days in London on a promotional tour.
During June the Royal Docks saw a bit more activity with the Offshore Wind Energy show taking place at ExCel exhibition centre and two Offshore Support Vessels were in attendance. More pictures can be seen here.
The other event in the Docks was a round of the European Jetski Freestyle championships which saw a number of riders competing – sadly there was no local publicity and only a very small crowd of spectators which was a shame and puts the future of the event under threat. More pictures can be seen here.
The month also saw the extremely rare event of two cruise ships from the same company passing each other on the Thames with the Silversea Cruises ships Silver Cloud and Silver Wind passing each other near the O2.
July was a month for Warships and Cruise Ships with several of each type of vessel paying a visit to London during the month.
The month started with a nice sunset departure of Viking Sky and her sister ship Viking Sea visited a few days later.
The naval visitors comprised of a mix of Royal Navy Archer Class patrol boats and visitors from NATO countries including BNS Godetia & BNS Bellis.
The other naval visitor came in the shape of Tall Ship BAP Union of the Peruvian Navy with London being the first port of call on its inaugural visit to Europe since entering service. A report from a visit onboard can be seen here.
During the month four cargo ships visited the Tate & Lyle Sugars Thames Refinery wharf at Silvertown, three of which were bringing in raw cane sugar and the fourth taking away pallets of refined sugar products.
The first picture shows Bulk Carrier Pacific Basin heading down river after discharging her cargo.
The next pictures show Bulk Carrier Western Miami in the process of being unloaded at Silvertown.
Chilli Dog, the latest addition to the CPBS Marine fleet, made it’s first visit the KGV Lock to collect a container of diving support equipment in support of marine engineering works further up the Thames in London.
The end of the month saw yet another naval tall ship, this time the Nve Cisne Branco from Brazil, a full report can be seen here.
The Royal Docks was again busy with various activities this month. It started with a night-time move of Light Ship 93 from it’s normal mooring location in Royal Victoria Dock up to Tower Bridge as part of a PR stunt – seen here in the KGV Lock with two Livett’s Group tugs providing assistance.
The other big event was the biennial Defence exhibition held at ExCel which saw a number of warships and smaller craft moored in Royal Victoria Dock – a full report with more pictures and videos can been seen here.
Also in the Docks during the month was a mass hot air balloon event taking off from London City Airport’s runway as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations in partnership with the Lord Mayor of London’s charity appeal.
The month kicked off with an historic visit to London by a flotilla of three Chinese Naval vessels with two Destroyers visiting West India Dock and a Replenishment ship coming to the King George V Dock. A full report with photos and video can be seen here.
Later in the month Toploader, a multi-cat belonging to Topbond PLC, arrived in the KGV Dock to take up residence in support of the first phase of development works at London City Airport.
Towards the end of the month Royal Navy Type 23 Frigate HMS Sutherland came up river to spend a few days in West India Dock to celebrate her birthday.
Briggs Marine sent their multi-cat Forth Fighter to spend some time on the Thames undertaking diving operation around the two Woolwich Ferry pier in preparation for the enabling works in 2018 for the arrival of the two replacement ferries.
Two NATO Frigates also visited during the month although the replenishment ship that was due to join them had to stay in Bruges for some repairs but still nice to see the Portuguese and Norwegian ships.
The end of the month saw floating sheerleg crane Cormorant arrive on the Thames to undertake recovery of a sunken barge from the river at Gallions Reach.
Whilst the year had seen fewer visits by Luxury Yachts it was nice to see Sea Falcon II arrive on the river to spend the festive period moored in West India Dock.
Multraship sent their tug Multratug 17 to the Thames to help take Cormorant back to the Netherlands after the salvage operation.
The year once again came to a close with a number of luxury motor cruisers arriving in the Royal Docks on their way to the 2018 London Boat Show.
So that concludes a look back at some of the highlights from the year, lots more pictures from these events and others can be seen here.
It will be interesting to see what 2018 will bring in terms of new visitors and familiar vessels making a visit to London. The #dlr_blog “Lookout” page will attempt to provide notice of expected arrivals and watchout for blog reports about key events and visitors so stay tuned……
A few vessel statistics for 2017 (some vessels visited more than once):
Bulk cargo ships visiting Thames Refinery – 31 (21 Import / 10 Export)
Naval vessels – 45 (includes 8 to the Royal Docks)
Cruise ships – 16
Sailing ships – 35 (including 26 for RV2017)