A Portsmouth Harbour tour reveals the state of the Royal Navy

In sunny Portsmouth last Saturday we decided on a tour of the harbour, along with many other sightseers. Less crowed on a weekday, but then it possibly wouldn’t have been such a lovely warm and sunny day.

The announcer, on the boat, said that we’d missed seeing th HMS Queen Elizabeth, which had recently sailed to America. I know it was a weekend, but there didn’t appear to be any activity in the Naval Dockyard that we could discern from our tour boat.

It’ll not need saying, but yours truly knows little about naval matters, these are my observations, that’s all. I’ve written about what I’ve seen in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, HERE, and HERE. Photos follow of Saturday’s visit.

  • The first nval vessel we encountered was M921 Lobelia, a minehunter of the Belgian Navy.
  • Next we saw HMS Medway P223.  She arrived in her home port of Portsmouth for the first time only a few days ago. She is the second of the new River class offshore patrol vessels.
  • Next we passed HMS Defender D36, one the six £1billion Daring class air defence destroyers, back in service having completed an almost 2 year refit.
  • Then we passed HMS Dragon D35, which had not long returned from a six month tour of duty in the Middle East.
  • Inside the dockyard we saw three Daring class destoyers in various stage of readiness, HMS Daring D32, HMS Dauntless D33, HMS Diamond D34. That’s five of the six destroyers not on patrol. Two of the six Dauntless and Diamond are not capable of deployment, Dauntless is classified as a training ship, and Diamond suffering from mechanical issues.
  • In various parts of the Naval Dockyard, were two redundant RFA Fleet Tankers, and survey vessel.

I appreciate that ships require replenishment, maintenance, and the crew home leave after an overseas deployment. My conclusion is that we need all of the Daring class destoyers to be operationable. With shortly to have two Elizabeth class aircraft carriers who will need to be accompanied by capable warships, not ageing frigates.

 

Fun visit to the submarine museum in Gosport

Last Sunday we decided a visit to Portsmouth was in order for a day by the sea.

On the outskirts of Portsmouth the road sign pointed one way to Gosport and the other to Portsmouth.  We’re always on the lookout for somewhere new to visit. And so the quick conversation went,

Me: Have you ever been to Gosport?

Dear wife: No,

Me: Nor have I. Shall we take a look.

Dear wife: Yes, no reason not to.

On route to Gosport the road signs mentioned a Submarine Museum. Similar conversation all over again. So we arrived at the The Royal Navy Submarine Museum.

In short, the museum is excellent, primarily for the opportunity to visit HMS Alliance, Britain’s only remaining World War 2 submarine, which acts as a memorial to the 5,300 British submariners who have lost their lives in service.

Guides are hugely knowledgeable, and make for an enjoyable visit. What surprises is that, though outwardly large, it was home to 5 officers and 60 men. The submarine is technically very complex, and a guide is vital to understanding it’s operation.

The Museum also hosts the Royal Navy’s first submarine, HMS Holland 1, and HMS X24, a World War 2 midget submarine. A splendid day out, ending with good pub meal in Lee-on-Solent. Here are my photo of the visit to HMS Alliance,

The Navy put on a show for HMS Queen Elizabeth

The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth to its home port of Portsmouth attracted thousands of spectators. I don’t know, is there another nation that celebrates in such numbers the arrival of a ship into port? Maybe it’s because we’re an island nation and naval power is important to our survival.

We stood by the Square Tower, on the historic fortifications, close by the Sally port where Nelson left to fight the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Royal Navy put on a show for today’s arrival. Sailors of HMS Queen Elizabeth lined the decks, and as the huge ship, majestically, arrived at Portsmouth it was accompanied by numerous helicopters, and also a couple of fighter jets. The throng of spectators were kept informed through a helpful public address system.

Spotting a business opportunity, a flag seller was doing good business with Union Jacks, as were Royal Navy staff. Being there, and witnessing the large ship ever built for the Royal Navy, gave a sense of pride, wonder, and not a little emotion. With the public address, helicopters and cheering crowds, it was a noisy event. I’ll write more about the day later. We’re now off to a reception. and will be completely at the end of this evening.

My report and video of HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving at Portsmouth will be posted here later today

We’ll be at Southsea, or wherever we can get a good position, to see HMS Queen Elizabeth arrive at Portsmouth at 0710 am. Should be quite a sight, as I image all the sailors on board will line the ship, if not I’ll be mega-disappointed.

When we get back home, I’ll work on my report and a video of the arrival, and post it here. It’s sure to be in the TV News.

Means getting up early to see supercarrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth

Thought we were going to miss the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new supercarrier – HMS Queen Elizabeth, at Portsmouth. It’s now confirmed to be arriving in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard at 0710 am approximately on Wednesday 16th August.

To see her arrive means getting up at 5 something – eurgh – though has to be one of those not to be missed events. Must hunt for our Union Jacks.

All six of the Royal Navy’s destroyers in Portsmouth naval harbour

When we caught the Condor ferry to Guernsey from Portsmouth just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote of being surprised at seeing three of the Navy’s Type 45 destroyers in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. Here’s my photo of two of them HMS Dauntless and Diamond in dock.

HMS Dauntless & Diamond -

The Daily Mail reports, in Who’s guarding the oceans, that all six of the Type 45 Destroyers are now in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard.

Surely, this is not what we have a Navy for. If they need to be in dock, why not send a few of them around the world. How about placing one in Gibraltar, another in either of Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia, and another on a courtesy visit to Japan. Isn’t this why we spend over £1 billion on each of them, to project British naval power.

Oh, and please can we have one patrolling our eastern sea borders and the channel. That’ll put off the people smugglers and the illegal fishing boats.

My photo evidence of Royal Navy ships in Portsmouth

My short article on the number of the Royal Navy ships in Portsmouth has gathered some interest. I thought, therefore, that it would be useful if I posted my photographic evidence of the ships in harbour, or just outside harbour. All the photos were taken in early morning of 7th July.

Think I saw a large part of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth harbour

Leaving on a Condor ferry to Guernsey from Portsmouth I reckoned I spotted a large number of the Royal Navy’s ships, either in port, or outside waiting to enter port. There were so many that I wondered the percentage of the Royal Navy fleet did I see?

I did take plenty of photos, which provided me with most of the evidence. A little bit of research is needed to find the total number of Royal Navy ships. They’re individually listed HERE, and of course Wikipedia helpful too. The total – excluding submarines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, and historic ships, is 64. I’m fairly sure that’s the correct number. I’m also fairly sure I saw 14 naval ships in Portsmouth.

Therefore, I make it over 20% of the Navy in Portsmouth, that’s not counting those in port in Devonport, and Clyde. So, it could be well over one quarter of the Navy in port.

HMS Dauntless & Diamond -Of the six £1 billion Type 45 Destroyers, there were three in harbour. See my photo of two of them – HMS Dauntless & Diamond. With their much lauded capabilities to track multiple threats, it would be good to see these ships protecting our waters, and beyond. There are reports , however, that they’re not suited to warmer waters, so I wonder if they’re in for an expensive repair.

My point here is that I’m surprised that so many of the Royal Navy’s ships not on active duty.

A cruise around the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard

This is the last of the reports on a thoroughly enjoyable day out last Saturday, visiting the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas with Camberley & District Probus Club.

We plumped for a harbour cruise as our first activity at the Festival, and an entertaining and knowledgeable captain was a big help in explaining the naval ships in port.

The Royal Navy has six hugely capable, and hugely expensive Type 45 Destroyers. There were 4 of them in port that we saw on our harbour cruise. They were HMS Daring, Dragon, Dauntless, and the newest one HMS Duncan. The cruise captain also explained the history of HMS Bristol – now a permanent home for Sea Cadets and training.

Thought you might enjoy a few images of our cruise and of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.