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HMS Richmond in West India Dock

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.

Indian Navy Ship Tarkash in West India Dock

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.

The Launch of the Minotaur at Thames Ironworks in 1863

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.

The Launch

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.

 

NATO Ships, Wambola (A433), Hinnøy (M343) and Schiedam (M860) in West India Dock

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.

 

Super Yacht Justa Delia in West India Dock – March 2017

With all excitement with the St Albans visit, many people (including me) overlooked the arrival of the Justa Delia Super Yacht.

The 143.04ft /43.6m Justa Delia was built in 2008 by Benetti. the yacht was previously named Libra Star and was sold in 2016.

Built by the prestigious Benetti company, her luxurious interior is designed by Zuretti and her exterior design is by Stefano Righini.

The Justa Delia’s can accommodate up to 10 guests in 5 rooms, including a master suite, 3 double cabins, 1 twin cabin and 2 pullman beds. She can carry up to 9 or 10 crew onboard.

The Justa Delia’s leisure and entertainment facilities include Air Conditioning, WiFi connection on board, Deck Jacuzzi, Gym/exercise equipment and Stabilisers.

As usual in the secretive world of Super Yachts, it is not known who is the new owner or how long the yacht will be in dock

HMS Exploit, HMS Explorer and HMS Smiter  in West India Dock – 8th March 2017

 

After the arrival of the HMS St Albans in West India Dock yesterday, she has been quickly joined by three patrol boats, the HMS Exploit, HMS Explorer and HMS Smiter today.

The three boats are Archer-class patrol and training vessels of the British Royal Navy and are used to train students in a range of naval skills.

HMS Explorer (P164) was built by Vosper Thornycroft in 1986 and was reclassified in 1994. Its homeport is Kingston-upon-Hull and mainly operates on the East coast of the UK, particularly in and around the river Humber.

The ship is primarily assigned to the Yorkshire Universities Royal Naval Unit (URNU), serving the universities of York, Hull, Sheffield and Leeds.

HMS Smiter ( P272) was built by Watercraft Ltd in Shoreham and commissioned in 1986. Her primary mission is to support the Oxford URNU’s activities but the vessel also conducts other RN tasks.

Oxford University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) was formed in October 1994 to provide training to undergraduates from Oxford, Oxford Brookes and Reading Universities.

HMS Exploit (P167) was built by Vosper Thornycroft and commissioned in 1988, the ship is berthed in Penarth, near Cardiff.

HMS Exploit is the Birmingham University Royal Naval Unit’s Training Patrol vessel, although the unit covers a wide area, taking undergraduates from eight Universities in the region including Loughborough and Warwick.

Archer-class patrol vessels have a Length of  20.8 m and beam of  5.8 m and often carry a crew of 20 (training) and 12 (operational).

It is not known how long the patrol boats will be in the dock but the St Albans is on a four-day stay.

HMS St Albans ( F83) in West India Dock – 7th March 2017

 

After a relatively quiet period in West India Dock, we welcome the return of the HMS St Albans who last visited in July  2015.

HMS St Albans is the 16th and last of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates to be built and was launched on 6 May 2000. Constructed by BAE Systems at Scotstoun, she was delivered to the Royal Navy in November 2001. She is based in Portsmouth. The St Albans has a length of  133 m (436 ft 4 in) , Beam: 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in) , Draught: 7.3 m (23 ft 9 in) with a crew of  around 185 .

The ship has had an interesting history, in 2006, she picked up 243 evacuees from the dock in Beirut and safely transported them to Cyprus.

Like many Royal Navy ships she has been deployed around the world included supporting international efforts in tackling piracy, illegal trafficking, and smuggling.

In May 2013 she was handed over to BAe Systems for her refit in Portsmouth Harbour, where she remained until 2014. After intense trials she rejoined the fleet.

More recently, in January 2017 she  escorted the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov carrier task group through the Channel.

The St Albans is on a four day visit to West India Dock, last time the ship was open for the public to visit, however the ships plans are not known at this stage.