Ineos is a name I hadn’t heard until recently. They took over the Sky cycling team and that was the first time I became aware of them. I guess that sporting achievements are something that their management are quite focused on because, while waiting to catch the ferry at Portsmouth, I got a look at the building in these photos. It is their America’s Cup challenger facility. The building looks pretty impressive and I hope that the boat that they come up with is similarly so. It would be good to see the cup make its way to the UK after all this time.
The Royal Navy destroyer fleet’s most recent additions have been the Type 45 Daring Class. These ships are an integral part of the groups that will support the new carriers. The Type 45s preceded the carriers in to service by a number of years. They have a superstructure that suggests more focus on radar reflectivity and the main mast is a larger structure than seen on previous ships. This example was sailing out of Portsmouth and towards the English Channel while I was at Seaview on the Isle of Wight. It was a bit distant but still worth a shot given how I haven’t seen one on open water before.
Having traveled on the car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight for all of my life, I have seen many generations of ferry come and go. The oldest ones I recall are Fishbourne and Camber Queen. These would amaze current travelers with their limited car capacity and very limited customer amenities. They were replaced by a bigger and better equipped fleet which were replaced in turn but the fleet of Saint named ferries. Their time has mainly come and gone and now most have been replaced again.
On this trip, I got to ride of two ferries from the newer generation. They have a significant increase in capacity that has required the introduction of two level loading to allow the schedule to be kept. While traveling on each, I got to see the other heading in the opposite direction along with one of the older Saint class. The latest ferry has again gone away from bi-directional operation and has also added a hybrid power drive of some sort. No idea how it works but the large logo on the side leaves you in no doubt that it is there.
The journey to Portsmouth on the ferry is one I have made more times than I can recall and one of the landmarks that is embedded in my mind is the Naval Memorial on the front at Southsea. This obelisk is a clear sign of either arriving or leaving but it is something that I have never actually looked at in any detail. After we departed the Island on our last trip, we stopped off on the seafront at Southsea and walked along to the monument to check it out.
The obelisk is all I had in mind previously, but the memorial is so much more. The original monument was created after the First World War for all the seaman that lost their lives. There are many panels around the column with names and ranks of seamen. Just looking at the different roles of sailors in that era of ships is interesting and to think of them all lost is sobering.
The memorial was expanded after the Second World War. The walls surrounding the tower and the columned end sections were added along with sculptures of sailors. The detail of them is impressive considering how long they have been exposed to the sea air and the Woolly sweaters, boots, beards and hats have a very authentic feel to them. I find it hard to believe I have passed by this memorial all my life and only now did I stop to look and appreciate it.
I have made countless trips between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight over the course of my life. Things change but most of the landmarks are remarkably consistent. I was therefore quite surprised to see some very large posts that had appeared in the approaches to Portsmouth Harbour. I knew that there had been dredging work undertaken to allow the new carriers (see this post) to enter the naval base. I suspected that these new large posts might be connected with the same project. Sure enough, some research after our returned confirmed that navigation lights have been installed to allow the carriers to navigate their way in. These light are mounted on top of large posts sunk into the seabed. They aren’t the most attractive things but I guess they do the job.
One leg of our trip to the UK included a ferry to the Isle of Wight. We took the ferry from Portsmouth and, as we drove in to town, I thought I could see the twin islands of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the pair of new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. Sure enough, when we pulled out of Gunwharf on the ferry, we could see the carrier moored in the naval base. A rear view doesn’t give to much impression of the ship but she is clearly pretty large. At about 65,000 tons, she is over three times the displacement of the previous RN carriers.
The Royal Navy’s submarine fleet is entirely nuclear powered. In the 80s, though, this was not the case. The Navy then still had a substantial fleet of diesel subs. The Oberon Class of subs was available in numbers along with the remaining Porpoise Class that preceded them and these were due to be replaced by the Upholders. Only four of those were built and they were sold to Canada when the decision was made to get rid of the diesel fleet despite their outstanding stealth qualities. When I went to Navy Days in Portsmouth in the 80s, you could see the subs on display. HMS Dolphin was just across the harbor and was the headquarters of the sub operations. One visit included the chance to see a sub in dry dock – something I suspect would not be left on view these days.
My mum’s birthday included a party on Spitbank Fort. This is one of Palmerston’s follies built out in the Solent not far from Portsmouth. The place has been restored in a great way and retains a lot of the character you would expect of a Victorian fort out on the water but with modern comforts as befits a hotel. I will spare you the family photos but here are a few shots to show you just what it is like out there. The service is great so, if you feel like spoiling yourself, check them out.
Pete and I continued our flying excursion with a trip to Portsmouth. We wanted to take a look at the forts out in the Solent since one of them would be part of our fun the following day. However, we were also interested in seeing the dockyards at Portsmouth. For those that don’t know Portsmouth, it is the home of the Royal Navy. The Navy has been based there for centuries and it is still home to a substantial portion of the fleet – even if that is a lot smaller than it used to be. There are also moorings for out of commission warships which is what we were actually interested in seeing.
We weren’t sure how open the airspace was to us. The charts did not show any issue but we checked in with the radar service to tell them what we had in mind and they said it was no problem so we headed across. Spinnaker Tower is a large structure that has been built as part of the redevelopment of the dock area. We flew past it and checked out the moored old warships. Then we did a loop around to see the docks themselves. This includes HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar. She looks great from above. Next to her is the building housing the recovered wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship. These are both worth visiting if you ever find yourself there.