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HMS Enterprise in West India Dock

It has been very quiet in West India Dock recently but today we welcome the HMS Enterprise which is one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced survey vessels and also acts as a floating base for mine countermeasures activities.

The ship is 90.6 m (297 ft 3 in) long, has a beam of 16.8 m (55 ft 1 in) and draught of 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in).

HMS Enterprise is the tenth ship to bear this name in the Royal Navy and is a multi-role survey vessel, she has a sister ship, HMS Echo, and together they make up the Echo class of survey vessels.

HMS Enterprise was built by Appledore Shipbuilders and was launched in 2002, and commissioned in 2003.

Photograph from Eric Pemberton

Enterprise’s crew consists of 72 personnel, with 48 on board at any one time. The ship is operationally available 330 days a year.

Photograph – Eric Pemberton

Over the past five years, she’s been involved in a range of activities, from detecting mines in the Arabian Gulf to surveying hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean floor.

The good news is that the ship is open to visitors on Saturday 22nd 2019, to have a visit you must get a ticket from the Eventbrite website.

Many thanks for the photographs from Eric Pemberton of the ship coming into the dock

For more information about tickets, visit the Eventbrite site here


HMS Severn in West India Dock


West India Dock welcomed the arrival of the HMS Severn, the HMS Severn is a River-class offshore patrol vessel of the Royal Navy and is the ninth ship in the Royal Navy to have this name.


She was built by Vosper Thornycroft in Southampton and launched in 2002, the main function of the ship is to serve as a fishery protection vessel within the United Kingdom’s waters along with her two sister ships Mersey and Tyne. All three were commissioned into service in 2003. HMS Severn has a length of 79.5 m (260 ft 10 in) , beam of 13.6 m (44 ft 7 in) and carries a crew that can range from 30 to 50.


Unusually for a River-class vessel, HMS Severn in 2014 was deployed overseas to patrol the North Atlantic. She patrolled the Caribbean region, visiting 29 ports in 20 different countries and islands including all of the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean – Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla and Grand Cayman.


More recently, the ship was involved in a joint operation involving UK and French law enforcement which involved seizure of around 2.4 tonnes of cocaine from a freighter a few miles off the UK’s south coast. It was estimated that the cocaine had a street value of £350m.


HMS Severn is here for a four-day visit  to be part of London Fire Brigade 150th anniversary celebrations,the ship was greeted by one of the Lambeth-based fire boats – Fire Dart – which saluted Severn with jets of water as she approached North Greenwich.


On Monday, the ship is hosting a capability demonstration on board in the evening for specially invited guests, including the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade. Two buglers from The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Collingwood, will perform during a ceremonial sunset.

HMS Montrose (F236) in West India Dock


West India Dock has been very busy recently and once again today we welcome an interesting visitor with the arrival of the HMS Montrose.


HMS Montrose is the Type 23 or ‘Duke’ class of frigates, of the Royal Navy, . She was laid down in November 1989 by Yarrow Shipbuilders (who famously had a shipyard in the Isle of Dogs before they moved north), and was launched on 31 July 1992 . She commissioned into service in June 1994.


The ship is 133 m (436 ft 4 in) long,  with a beam of  16.1 m (52 ft 10 in) and  a draught of 7.3 m (23 ft 9 in). It usually carries a helicopter either a Lynx or a Westland Merlin.
Montrose is now part of the Devonport Flotilla, based in Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth.


In the 1990s the ship was deployed in the  South Atlantic to protect the Falkland Islands, and in 2004, Montrose was one of the first ships to make contact with the damaged  Canadian submarine Chicoutimi and was able to give badly needed assistance.
Since then the ship has been deployed in the Middle East and Mediterranean on anti terrorist and anti smuggling patrols.

The ship saw action off the coast of Somalia sinking a Somali pirate ship before returning once again to the South Atlantic.

More recently in 2014, Montrose   joined other warships in guarding  Syrian chemical weapons stockpile being removed for disposal.

HMS Bulwark is moored in Greenwich at the moment to celebrate the Royal Marine 350th Anniversary and Montrose will be joining in these celebrations as well as other official functions. Although here till next week, there will no open day due to other commitments.

Eric Pemberton has sent some great pictures of HMS Bulwark being turned around near the O2.





West India Dock Visitors Review 2013

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One of our more unusual visitors, the futuristic  Turanor Planet Solar

We have been fortunate this year to have had a wide range of visitors to the West India Docks.

Let me remind you of some of our most notable visitors.


MS Stubnitz –  a East German made ex fishing vessel


HMS Lancaster – Royal Navy


HMCS Iroquois – Canadian Navy

The Gorch Fock – tall ship belonging to the German Navy



L’ Aigle –  Eridan Class Mine Warfare Vessel of the French Navy.


HMS Richmond – Royal Navy

STS Tenacious –  a wooden sail training ship

F.S. Cormoran  is a Flamant class patrol vessel in the French Navy

MV Arctic Sunrise an Icebreaker ship operated by Greenpeace


Currently held by the Russian Government for Trespass and Piracy

French Training Ships

A748 Léopard,  A749 Panthère,  A750 Jaguar , A751 Lynx , A752 Guépard , A753 , Chacal A754 , Tigre,  A755 Lion.



Montigne – Super Schooner


Turanor Planet Solar – Solar panel powered

Stad Amsterdam – Tall ship

Big Eagle – Super Yacht

Amerigo Vespucci – Italian Navy Tall Ship



Light Holic – Super Yacht

Stavros S Niarchos – British brig-rigged tall ship

HMS Northumberland F239 – Royal Navy


Odessa II – Super Yacht

Sea Owl – Super Yacht


FS Eridan  (M641) – French Navy Minesweeper

HMS Tyne (P281) – Royal Navy


Massey Shaw – Historical Fireboat


Other Highlights

City of Adelaide at Greenwich

Great River Race

Clipper around the World Race.

HMS Tyne in West India Dock



Today we welcome the HMS Tyne (P281) into the West India Dock, her arrival is timed to coincide with the run up  to Remembrance weekend.


HMS Tyne was part of the three ships that attended DSEI defence and security exhibition at Excel in September, when she berthed in the Royal Dock.


HMS Tyne is a  River-class patrol vessel  built by Vosper Thornycroft in Southampton in 2002 and is based in Portsmouth.
Her Length: is 79.9 m with a beam of 13.6 m.


The ships main task is to safeguard fishing stocks in the UK and her main role is to enforce national and EU fisheries laws. She also undertakes  environmental protection, search and rescue and maritime security.


As part of the Remembrance celebrations the crew will be selling poppies on Thursday at London’s train stations,

Some of the company will go to Twickenham for another collection at the England and Argentina match on Saturday.


On Sunday they will head to St Paul’s Cathedral and St Anne’s in Limehouse for Remembrance Sunday services.

An open day will be held on board the ship at Canary Wharf on Friday between 10am and 4 pm.

She will be leaving on Monday 11th November.

HMS Northumberland in West India Dock


Today we welcome the HMS Northumberland, F239, she is a type 23 Frigate of the Royal Navy .

The HMS Northumberland is a part of a  trio of naval vessels who will sail up the Thames  to take part in a number of events centred around the Royal Docks. HMS Sutherland and HMS Tyne will be berthed in the Royal Docks.


The ships visits coincide with the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) Future Maritime Operations conference which takes place at the ExCeL, held in association with the Royal Navy.The date and venue was chosen to coincide with the Defence Security Equipment International Exhibition, the London International Shipping Week, and the 150th anniversary of training on the River Dart .


As her name suggests the HMS Northumberland’s  ties with the North East are strong as the ship was built in the Swan Hunter yard and launched in 1992 and entered service in 1994.

She has recently returned from a 7 month deployment to the Middle East and East Coast of Africa where she was engaged in counter-piracy and counter-narcotic operations.


She was among the first ships to receive the most advanced sonar in the world to hunt down submarines and played a vital role in testing that new kit with HMS Torbay as her quarry at a special test range in the Bahamas.


She has a crew of 185 and her statistics  are Length 133 m (436 ft) Beam 16.1 m (52 ft) Draught 7.3 m (23 ft).


Aboard the HMS Richmond in West India Dock


As part of Armed Forces Day, the HMS Richmond welcomed  the general public on board.

Many took advantage of the opportunity to look around the Royal Navy Frigate on a warm summer’s day in West India Dock


The Flags were out amongst the skyscrapers.



The welcome party






HMS Richmond visits West India Dock


A new visitor in West India Dock is the HMS Richmond (F239), one of 13 Type 23 Duke Class frigates that form a major part of the naval fleet. She holds the distinction of being one of the last warships to be built by Swan Hunter shipyard, she was launched in 1993.


Since then she has been involved in many military and peace keeping campaigns most notably the Iraq war and helping with rescue efforts after Hurricane Frances and Ivan hit the Carribean in 2004.

For the technical minded:


Pennant                  F239
Displacement        4,000 tonnes
Complement         185 personnel
Length                    133 Metres
Beam                       16.1 metres
Draught                  7.3 metres
Top Speed              28 knots
Range (Nautical) 7,800 miles
Launch Date        06/04/93

Whilst  in London the crew will be involved in a number of functions. However the  highlight of her stay happens on Saturday (June 29) – Armed Forces Day – when the warship will be open to visit by the general public.

The ship will be open from 1pm until 3pm only and access is via Thames Quay at West India Dock. Please note access is not suitable for those with limited mobility as ship tours may require the use of gangways and ladders.


HMS Richmond is the seventh Royal Navy ship to proudly bear the name.






Rule Britannia – When Blackwall ruled the Waves


Cavalry Embarking at Blackwall, (probably Perry’s Dock ) 24 April 1793

by William Anderson 1793 (National Maritime Museum)

Anyone who walks along the river near  Blackwall and the Virginia Settlers Monument could be forgiven for believing it is a bit of a backwater, however for over 400 years this was the site of great importance for British Naval history for it was in this spot that hundreds of  Merchant and Royal Navy ships were built that helped to forge an Empire.

Blackwall’s  location just before the bend of the Isle of Dogs and its popularity as an anchorage from which travellers embarked and disembarked was important from as early as the fifteenth century.

However Blackwall also became known in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries for ship repairs, a number of royal ships were repaired most famously the Mary Rose who was repaired here in 1514.

Shipbuilding was rarely undertaken until 1614, when the East India Company decided to build a shipyard at Blackwall. The building of the dockyard was to cope with the demand in trade  in which the company quite often rented their ships out to rich merchants.

In 1652 the East India Company sold Blackwall Yard, to the  shipwright Henry Johnson  who extended the dockyard.

Samuel Pepys working for the Royal Navy commissioned a numbers of ships from Blackwall in the late 17th Century from one of the largest private shipyards in the country.


Launch of the ‘Venerable’, 74-guns, at Blackwall, Francis Holman 1784 (National Maritime Museum)

HMS ‘Venerable’ was launched in April 1784 at Perry’s yard in Blackwall.

In the 18th Century, Blackwall was taken over by the Perry family who continued to build and repair ships for the East India Company and for others.It was the Perry family that built the Brunswick dock that opened in 1790.


View of Mr Perry’s Yard, Blackwall by William Dixon 1796 (National Maritime Museum )

In 1803 the East India Dock company bought part of the site including the Brunswick dock to turn int0 the East India Export Dock.


The Mast House and Brunswick Dock at Blackwall by William Daniell 1803 (National Maritime Museum)

Eventually Perry’s was taken over by Wigram & Green  who in 1821 built their first steamship and the internationally famous Blackwall Frigates.

frig 1

The Blackwall Frigate ‘Maidstone’ at Sea by H.J. Callow 1869 (National Maritime Museum)

Blackwall Frigates was the common name for a type of three-masted full-rigged ship built between the late 1830s and the mid-1870s. The first Blackwall Frigates  were built by Wigram and Green at Blackwall to replace the East Indiaman ships that had been built on this site for centuries. Although not as quick as a “clipper” they were still used on the long voyages between England and Australia.

Wigram and Green eventually became just Greens who became famous for building Naval vessels including the first Iron ship the HMS Warrior built in 1866.

BlackWall London 1872 cHarles napier henry Museum of London

Blackwall, London 1872 by Charles Napier Henry ( Museum of London )

At the beginning at the 20th century the site became too small for the larger ships and although still shipbuilding and ship repairs were carried out they were in much smaller scale than the sites heyday. Nevertheless the site remained active under different management till 1989 when most of the docks were filled in and buildings built on the site.

Blackwall’s  illustrious past is generally  forgotten, however there is no doubt that Blackwall was for centuries one of the most  important maritime sites in Britain.