Last September after the Tall Ships regatta, one ship stayed in West India Dock to be given a final send off. That ship was the TS Royalist when a celebration took place to honour its service for the Sea Cadet organisation. Although it was a celebration , there was a tinge of sadness as the old ship was due to be decommissioned after over 40 years service. In her years of service it is estimated she had taken over 30,000 cadets to sea. The cadets generally join the ship for a week and learn the rudiments of sailing a large ship.
To build a replacement for the ship, the Sea Cadet organisation had to raise nearly 4 million pounds in two years , when the target was reached the organisation awarded the contract to a Spanish shipbuilder but sourced a considerable amount of the equipment from the UK.
Remarkably the new TS Royalist is now in West India Dock to await its commissioning on Friday, looking on the surface very similar to its predecessor, the ship has been fitted to better suit the modern sailor.
Another familiar sight on the Thames but a rare visitor to the West India Dock is the famous Havengore. For a small vessel she has carried a large number of distinguished visitors,
Havengore’s most famous moment came in 1965 when, watched live by a worldwide audience of 350 million, she took centre stage as she carried Sir Winston Churchill on his final journey by water along the Thames.
More recently Havengore was selected to carry members of the royal family as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in a flotilla of over a thousand vessels during the River Thames pageant on 3rd June 2012.
It is not known how long the Havengore or TS Royalist are in dock but they are both well worth a visit.