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It is that time of the year when people begin to review the past 12 months, carrying on the tradition from previous years, we are listing the ships that have visited West India Docks in the last year. No doubt we may have missed one or two ships but we have certainly had quite a number of fascinating visitors.
The development surrounding West India Dock and Canary Wharf seems to have had a considerable effect on the numbers visiting the dock. It has been generally a very quiet year for visitors in the dock compared with previous years.
Some old Tall Ships favourites returned with Tenacious, other tall ships included Marienborgh, ARA Libertad, Gulden Leeuw and Cuauhtémoc.
Superyachts included Reef Chief, Kismet, Bellami.com, Ocean Dreamwalker III and Bristolian.
Royal Navy ships included HMS Westminster and HMS Enterprise.
Dutch training ships Sittard and Rigel were unusual visitors.
Marine exploration was a bit of a theme this year with the arrival of DSSV Pressure Drop, Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior III and MV Esperanza.
The Marienborgh yacht seems to be permanently in the dock and Tenacious has been berthed for several weeks. The Massey Shaw, The Portwey and the Lord Amory which are permanently moored in the dock provide year round interest.
With all the development, it is unlikely that in the foreseeable future that numbers visiting will pick up quickly but we will keeping our eye on the many different ships that circle around the Isle of Dogs.
This year we spotted on the Thames, Dutch Tall Ship Stad Amsterdam, Polish Tall Ship Dar Mlodziezy, cruise liners Silver Spirit and Le Champlain.
May we wish all our readers a Happy New Year and we look forward to welcoming new visitors to the dock in the New Year.
It is that time of the year when people begin to review the past 12 months, carrying on the tradition from last year I am listing the ships that have visited West India Docks.
In a very eventful year, the highlight must be the Tall Ships Festival, the largest gathering of Tall Ships in London for 25 years was a spectacle few are likely to forget.
Some old Tall Ships favourites returned, the Stad Amsterdam, Stavros S Niarchos and STS Tenacious but sad to see the final appearance of the TS Royalist.
The Royal Navy and other nations ships visited quite regularly and there was plenty of excitement when a small German flotilla appeared and then later a NATO Flotilla came into the dock.
A number of Super Yachts docked, giving a glimpse of the world of the super rich. Often beautifully designed, they do seem well at home amongst the Canary Wharf skyscrapers.
At the other end of the scale, the Lord Amory and the restoration of the Massey Shaw and Portwey continues which add interest to the dock all year round.
HMS Montrose (F236)
Nato warships included Lithuanian Minelayer LNS Jotvingis, Belgian Navy’s BNS Crocus,
the German Navy’s FGS Datteln, the Polish Navy’s ORP Flaming, the Estonian Navy’s ENS Sakala,
the Latvian Navy’s LVNS Talialdis and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Zierlkzee.
French Navy Ship Pluvier
French Navy Ship Andromede
Italian Navy Luigi Durand de la Penne
The German Navy (M1093) Auerbach/Oberpfalz,(M1098) Siegburg and Seehund Drones
German Navy (A512) Mosel, (A1425) Ammersee and (M1092)Hameln
Super Yacht Kismet
Super Yacht Christopher
Super Yacht Z
Super Yacht Kalinga
Super Yacht Sovereign
Super Yacht Kamalaya
The Tall Ships Festival
Dutch Tall Ship, Stad Amsterdam
Stavros S Niarchos Tall Ship
STS Tenacious Tall Ship
Tall Ship Kaskelot
When the HMS Westminster came into West India Dock, I was offered a chance to go on board and meet the Captain and some of the crew . This seemed an opportunity too good to miss, so at the appropriate time I went on board and was escorted to the bridge.
Talking to some of the crew, it quickly became clear that the modern Royal Navy is expected to undertake a large number of tasks in an ever changing world from humanitarian rescues to seeing action in the many trouble spots.
HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer Captain Hugh Beard
Although the HMS Westminster is 20 years old, the technology on the bridge is being regularly updated to maintain maximum effectiveness. However the bridge is dominated by the captain’s chair from where he directs operations, the Captain after explaining some of the ships capabilities rested in his chair to be surprised by the appearance of a Tall Ship sailing past. It turned out be the Stavros S Niarchos and waves were exchanged between the two crews.
Leading seaman Dave Kelvin ( still feeling the effects of running from Portsmouth to London for charity)
I was keen to find out how many Londoners were on board and was surprised to find out there was only three, it appears that although that ships are linked with a particular place, recruitment can bring crew from all over the UK.
Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineer) Lewis Bird, from Carshalton
However chatting with the Londoners, it was obvious that the links with the City were the source of a great deal of pride.
Lieutenant Lloyd Cardy, from Croydon
Although I have been on many ships that have visited West India Docks, the visit is usually restricted to the deck and occasionally the bridge. Therefore when I was offered a full tour of the ship I was curious to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the modern warship.
With a complement of 180 to 200 crew and the array of modern equipment and weapons even a quite large warship like the HMS Westminster feels quite cramped under the decks.
One of the first lessons a new sailor or a landlubber visitor learns is climbing down the steps between decks requires you to keep your wits about you, if not bumps and bruises will follow or ‘hatch rash’ as its known to the crew.
What quickly becomes clear is that the ship has to be a self contained ‘mini- city’ because if you are at sea for weeks at a time, you obviously have to take everything with you.
Other than direct action with the enemy , the great dangers on board are fire or water getting into the ship. The large array of systems regulating all aspects of the ship are manned 24/7 and any incident is acted upon immediately.
There is also constant training at sea both in battle readiness but also endless safety routines to be carried out.
But the life of the modern sailor is not all work , the galley provides a wide range of meals by a team of chefs.
And there is even a small shop if you fancy a bar of chocolate .
The ship usually carries an helicopter unless in port, but I was not sure why there is a red telephone box on the deck ?
As someone who gets seasick on the Woolwich Ferry, I don’t think I would have been attracted to a life on the ocean but it was fascinating to see some of the workings of a modern warship.
If you are interested and would like to visit the ship and see some of the sights for yourself, there is an open day on Saturday, tickets are free but must be obtained from Eventbrite here.
Many thanks to the Captain and the crew of the HMS Westminster for the information and the guided tour.
After all the recent activity with Tall Ships , West India Dock welcomes a very different type of ship with the arrival of the HMS Westminster . The Type 23 frigate will be moored in London for six days and undertake a number of engagements .
Built in the famous Swan Hunter yard in Tyne and Wear and launched in 1992, the 133-metre ship, last visited London in March 2013, since then the ship has had a seven month deployment to the Arabian Gulf, then returned to the UK in February 2014 when she underwent a maintenance period .
As the Royal Navy’s primary Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Frigate, Westminster has undergone tactical development trials with HMS Illustrious ; this was followed by ASW operation activation due to Russian submarine activity.
More recently, HMS Westminster has undertaken a training exercise with the Royal Navy Reserves.
One of its high profile engagements whilst in dock will be a parade through Westminster, the Lord Mayor of Westminster will allow the ship to exercise its right to the Freedom of the City, with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed as they parade through the streets. The parade will be led by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and the procession will form up at Horse Guards Parade at 8.45am. The parade will then march onto Horse Guards Road and onto the Mall through the centre of Admiralty Arch and around Parliament Square before arriving at Westminster Abbey for the march past at 9.40am.
On Saturday September 27 , HMS Westminster will be open to members of the public so that local people have an opportunity to experience life on board a warship. Open from 9am until 5pm – with last entry to the ship at 4pm – tickets are available on the hour between these times. Tickets are free but must be obtained in advance from www.hmswestminstertickets.eventbrite.co.uk.
One recent events that the HMS Westminster attended this summer was the Bournemouth Air Show, by a coincidence I was staying in Bournemouth for a few days and caught the first day of the show. here are a couple of photographs of the HMS Westminster in Bournemouth.