Tag Archives: River Thames

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……

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.

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.

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.

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.