Thursday 19 August 2010

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

I mentioned my daughter and HMS Ark Royal arriving in Portsmouth dockyard, the historic dockyard is very interesting in it's own right and may not be familiar to non UK readers.

The current docks have been at the centre of British Naval operations for around 300 years. Portsmouth's importance as a natural harbour on the south coast of England and important role in the defense of the nation dates back well before Henry VIII's reign and the ill fated Tudor warship the Mary Rose.

Today much of the historic dockyard is given over to tourism and naval heritage, the site is home to HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship in the decisive Battle of Trafalgar, although permanently stored in dry dock, she is still in commission with the British Navy complete with a serving commanding officer and crew.

Built almost 100 years after Victory in 1860 was HMS Warrior the first iron clad in the British Navy and credited as the first modern battleship. Her armour consisted of 4 inches of iron backed by 18 inches of teak and she carried 68lb breech loading cannons, truly formidable in her day although she never saw battle.

We spotted these interesting old vessels alongside in the docks, the one at the back is HSL102, built for service with the RAF in 1937 as a flying boat tender. Following some extensive work, she was relaunched in 1996 and has been a regular site roaring up and down the Solent.

The boat in the foreground seems to be a dockyard pinnace, probably used around the port.

Although still a major naval base, with defence cuts in prospect there are local concerns over the future of the working docks.

While wandering around we saw this, which we were reliably informed is a new highly secret, experimental vessel being considered as part of the navy's defence review!!!


  1. What, that purple dumpster? I suppose it would float..... Look, the Emperor
    has no clothes!

  2. We had an excellent time at the Navy Days at Pompey a few weeks back. Saw round the new HMS Dauntless, made a plastic kit, watched Black Cats helicopter team.
    But the dumpster (skip in English) is a perfectly viable hull - Tom Cunliffe sailed a skip with an outboard on the back round Southampton in his series on boats recently. Give the crew an RPG and an AK47 and you have a potent warship for virtually no money!

  3. One man's rubbish skip is another's scow. And if you rammed one of those things in a catamaran going 15 knots you'd never again laugh at it!

  4. Chris - I note that Tom chose an outboard motor for propulsion rather than his usual choice of gaff cutter rig and topsail!!

  5. I suspect that Tom would have got better performance out of a gaff cutter rig than that pathetic outboard. As it was he nearly swamped it.
    ChrisP (ex officio)


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