FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Naval parade at the Thames Barrier

Posted in England, London by folkestonejack on May 11, 2015

A ridiculously early start to my morning commute saw me heading out of the house just before 5am to give me enough time to get to Woolwich for the anticipated sight of HMS Ocean leaving London at the end of a five day visit. HMS Ocean, currently the Royal Navy’s largest warship, had been in London as part of the events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

HMS Ocean approaches the Thames Barrier

HMS Ocean approaches the Thames Barrier

HMS Ocean left her mooring at Greenwich before most folk were up and about, but there were still a few early risers ready and waiting at the Thames Barrier. She passed through at 6.58am assisted by four Svitzer tugs (Bootle, Brunel, Cecilia and Mercia). Needless to say, it was incredibly impressive to see a ship of this size navigating through the narrow space between the barrier piers before heading on towards Woolwich in a short-lived burst of sunlight. The sound of her horn filled the air moments later, presumably in a farewell reply to the Woolwich Ferries.

Not long afterwards four Gepard-class fast attack craft of the German Navy appeared on the horizon and made their way through the barrier in single file. The four ships (S73 Hermelin, S76 Frettchen, S79 Wiesel and S80 Hyane) had been moored in West India Docks over the weekend with a couple of naval vessels that departed last night (S75 Zobel and A514 Werra).

S79 Wiesel heads away from the O2

S79 Wiesel heads away from the O2

The ten ships in this class were commissioned between December 1982 and November 1984, but four have already been decommissioned. All six remaining vessels are part of the 7. Schnellbootgeschwader based at Warnemünde. The class is earmarked for replacement by a new class of corvettes by 2021.

After this impromptu naval parade at the Thames Barrier I headed back into Woolwich, jumped on the DLR and still managed to be at work half an early!

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