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With the warm weather, summer seems to have finally arrived and we welcome a regular visitor to West India Dock with the arrival of the British Tall Ship Stavros S Niarchos into dock .
The Stavros S Niarchos was last in the dock in September 2016 and is a regular visitor to the Thames and Tall Ship events.
The Stavros S Niarchos is a British brig-rigged tall ship owned and operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Built in 2000, she has been used to give young people the opportunity to develop skills and talents whilst undertaking voyages to various locations. She is also available for voyages and holidays which provide revenue to maintain the operation of the ship.
In the last couple of years, the Stavros S Niarchos has been put up for sale to enable the Trust to get a smaller ship, so if you have dreamed of owning your own tall ship here is your opportunity.
The ship has a length of 197ft , masts of 148ft and beam of 32ft, she usually operates a crew of 69 which include regular crew and volunteers. The Stavros S Niarchos is quite a bit larger than the TS Royalist which is still in the dock.
In the midst of all the building work around the dock, it is nice to see a couple of tall ships to remind us of the past.
After the departure of one training ship, the Lord Nelson, we see the arrival of another with the TS Royalist.
This is the new TS Royalist, the old TS Royalist was decommissioned in 2014 after 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.
The new ship which is the Sea Cadets flagship looks on the surface very similar to its predecessor but is fitted to better suit the modern sailor and is more economical to operate. The training brig takes twenty-four cadets to sea for six day voyages.
The new TS Royalist is beginning to build its own reputation appearing at the recent Tall Ships Festival 2017. It is one of a number of training tall ships that play an important role in providing training for young people to learn seamanship, sailing skills, leadership and teamwork.
Wandering around the West India Dock, it is nice to see the familiar masts of the STS Lord Nelson which arrived a few days ago.
The Lord Nelson was the first tall ship that was purpose-built with the aim of integrating disabled with able-bodied people. The ship was the fulfilment of the vision of JST’s founder, Christopher Rudd who believed that physically disabled people should be able to sail alongside able-bodied people as part of the crew.
The Lord Nelson sailed on her maiden voyage in 1986, Since that voyage, the STS Lord Nelson has sailed 461,943 Nautical Miles and taken nearly 29,000 people to sea. Of these, 10,500 people were physically disabled and more than 3,500 were wheelchair users.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the ship is that Lord Nelson’s has many facilities for disabled crew including flat wide decks, powered lifts, speaking compass, Braille signage and bright track radar for visually impaired crew members.
However, the whole purpose of these facilities is to enable the disabled crew to work side by side with the able-bodied crew.
Between 2012 and 2014, the Lord Nelson undertook its greatest challenge by completing a voyage around the world visiting 7 continents and 30 countries. Whilst in Australia and New Zealand she raced in tall ships races and also carried out an Antarctic Expedition.
The Lord Nelson and her sister ship, the Tenacious are regular visitors to West India Dock and both ships are a wonderful reminder of what can be achieved by fulfilling a vision of providing opportunities to people with a wide range of abilities.
Yesterday saw the arrival of the HMS Richmond, the ship is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy and was launched in 1993. HMS Richmond was last warship to be built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders.
Since her launch, the ship has been deployed all around the world. In 1997, the ship was the first Royal Navy vessel to visit the Russian port of Vladivostok in over 100 years.
The ship took part in 2003 Iraq War and provided support in the Caribbean in the aftermath of a series of devastating hurricanes.
The ship had a refit in 2004/2005 before returning to the fleet.
More recently, HMS Richmond and HMS Duncan ( another recent visitor to the dock) escorted a fleet of Russian Navy vessels, including their flagship Admiral Kuznetsov passing through the English Channel.
The ship has a length of 133 m (436 ft 4 in) and beam of 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in) and a crew complement of around 185.
Today, the 13th May 2017, HMS Richmond will be open to the public for free tours, the ship visit will be strictly for ticket holders only ( book on Eventbrite) and the visit will last approximately 60 minutes.
Yesterday we welcomed a rare visitor to the West India Dock with the arrival of the Indian Navy Ship Tarkash. INS Tarkash (F50) is the fifth Talwar-class frigate constructed for the Indian Navy. The ship was built at the Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad, Russia. She was commissioned to Navy service in 2012 and joined the Western Naval Command on 27 December 2012.
Tarkash belongs to the Talwar class of guided missile frigates which are modified Krivak III-class frigates built by Russia. Whilst much of the equipment on board is Russian made, a large number of the systems were made in India.
In March 2015, Tarkash was deployed with INS Mumbai and INS Sumitra as part of Operation Raahat to provide protection and support to Indian ships and aircraft involved in the evacuation of Indian citizens from Yemen.
The ship was open to the public yesterday and will stay in the dock till the 10th May 2017.
Most of the warships that visit the dock are European, therefore a visitor from India is unusual and offers a rare opportunity to view this particular kind of frigate.
Regular readers will know that regular contributor Eric Pemberton is a great collector of postcards and ephemera related to the Island and he often sends some of his latest acquisitions to share with our readers.
This week he has sent a fascinating glimpse into the ship building in Blackwall and especially the famous Thames Ironworks. The launching of ships was often great social occasions for the shipyards and attracted enormous crowds.
Eric managed to acquire an invitation to one such launch in 1863 of the Royal Navy iron clad steamship Minotaur at Thames Ironworks. The London Illustrated News were present and produced the following report.
The Launch of the Minotaur at Thames Ironworks
Her Majesty’s iron-clad screw steamship Minotaur launched on Saturday, December 19th, from the yard of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Blackwall, in the presence of an assemblage computed at 10,000. Admirable arrangements were made by the company for so large a gathering, and although probably not fewer than 3000 persons were conveyed by pontoon and small boats across the creek that divides the yard— the creek into which the ship was launched — not a single accident occurred.
The dimensions of the Minotaur exceed those or any other ship afloat; and when the Agincourt is launched from the yard of Messrs. Laird at Birkenhead, and the Northumberland from the yard of the Mlllwall Company, there will be three ships of the class. All three were ordered by the Admiralty on September 2nd, 1861, and should, according to contract, have been launched six or seven months ago; but many changes have been introduced into all the ships, and hence the delay.
The launching of the Minotaur was managed to perfection. When the last supports had been knocked away, the first effort of the hydraulic ram moved her. Mrs Romaine then dashed the bottle of wine against the iron bows, and the huge vessel glided majestically into the river, amid the cheers of thousands. The work of fitting the Minotaur with her five iron masts,and generally completing her for sea, will be effected in the Victoria Docks.
The length of the Minotaur between perpendiculars is 400 ft ,her breadth 59 ft, 4 in., and her depth 41 ft, 6 in. She is of 6814 tons burden, builders measurement, and is to be propelled by engines (in course of making by Messrs. Penn) of 1350 horsepower. Her armament is not yet fully decided upon,, but it is expected that she will carry fifty guns of the largest calibre.
The launching of the Minotaur was three years after the launch of the HMS Warrior which was at the time the world’s largest warship and the first iron-hulled armoured frigate. Following the success of HMS Warrior and HMS Minotaur, Thames Ironworks managed to get orders from navies all over the world which allowed the yard to survive the 1866 financial crisis which closed many shipyards.
Minotaur took nearly four years between her launching and commissioning because there was trials with armaments and different sailing rigs. The ship was not a great success and considered slow and sluggish with sails that could not be used in any efficient way. The ship spent the bulk of her active career as flagship of the Channel Squadron, including during the Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Fleet Review in 1887. She became a training ship in 1893 and part of a training school at Harwich. Minotaur was then renamed several times before being sold for scrap in 1922 and broken up the following year.
Many thanks to Eric for sending us a small reminder of the remarkable shipbuilding heritage of Blackwall and the Docklands area.
Whilst much of the recent ship attention has been on the tall ships, three NATO ships have arrived at West India Dock.
The arrival of the Estonian Navy Ship EML Wambola (A433) ,Norwegian Navy ship Hinnøy (M343) and the Dutch Navy Ship Schiedam (M860) came as a bit of a surprise, but for security reasons, the visits tend to be low key. The ships are part of the Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group ONE (SNMCMG1).
The Standing NATO Maritime Groups, are a multinational, integrated maritime force made up of vessels from various allied countries. These vessels are permanently available to NATO to perform a variety of tasks ranging from participating in exercises to intervening in operational missions.
These particular ships regularly take part in NATO exercises and the SNMCMG1 ships and crew have been engaged in port visits and mine clearance operations in order to contribute to NATO collective defence and regional security.
The Norwegian Navy ship Hinnøy (M343) and the Dutch Navy Ship Schiedam (M860), last visited West India Dock in November 2015.