If you are used to a modern shape of an anchor, particularly one for a large ship, the old style of anchors in the days of the early 1800s will be rather strange looking. They look like a giant version of the sort of anchor you would see on a small boat. This example sits on the seafront in Southsea and comes from a ship that fought in the battle of Trafalgar. It seems in pretty good shape. I wonder whether that is a feature of the materials used or the result of lots of bits of it being replaced over the years.
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.
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 USS Constellation is the last sail powered warship built for the US Navy. She is now preserved in the harbor in Baltimore. I saw her a few times from a distance while I was in Baltimore but I didn’t get a chance to take a shot until I was walking back from a reception. By that time it was dark and, since I only had my phone with me, that had to suffice. The phone on the camera has a wide angle lens so, even though we were quite close, the ship is a little small in the original shot. However, she still looks pretty impressive. I imagine she would have looked even better when under sail!
Walk around the headland from Sutro Baths and you come to a great view looking across towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Here is located the memorial to the USS San Francisco. The ship was engaged in a vicious battle during the Second World War at Guadalcanal in which her senior officers were killed. The ship survived albeit heavily damaged. When she was scrapped after the war, the wings from the bridge were kept and placed as part of the memorial. They still bear the scars of the rounds that hit the ship during the engagement with the steel holed and twisted in many places.
I have mentioned the LCS ship that was part of the Parade of Ships for Fleet Week. It was one of several warships to take part in the parade. Most were US Navy ships but there was also a Coast Guard ship and a visitor from the Royal Canadian Navy. They entered the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge before parading in front of the spectators arrayed along the shore and in the boats out on the water. The first ship was led by a fire boat that sprayed water from its cannons in greeting.
These pictures are a sample of the different ships that were on parade. Another warship was part of Fleet Week but it remained tied up during the parade which was a shame as I would liked to have seen it. You could tour it if you wanted but I had other plans that meant that wouldn’t work out.
As a small boy, my Gran would take me to Portsmouth each August for Navy Day. We would spend a day walking around the dockyard and getting on to various warships to see what they were like. This was a pretty big event and, in those days, the number of ships in port for those days is probably more than the Royal Navy has in total today. The result of this was an interest in an early day with warships. Growing up by the water meant that ships of all types were a regular feature of life.
Warship design underwent quite a transition. Traditionally, warships had been slender designs that achieved speed and supposedly provided the most stable ride. However, this was not an approach that was universally agreed and shorter broader designs started to gain favor. The Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates were one of the first signs that Navy’s were taking new configurations seriously.
The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program has gone a stage further with one of the builders. There are two LCS designs in production and one of them has a narrow center hull and two additional outboard hulls further aft. This trimaran configuration provides slender hulls but with a lot of stability and the space for a large deck. One of the LCS ships was in San Francisco for Fleet Week and took part in the Parade of Ships.
USS Coronado (LCS-4) was the ship on display. She is the second of the General Dynamics – Bath Iron Works ships to be commissioned and entered service in 2014. As she entered the bay under the bridge she turned towards to city and you could get a good view (albeit at some distance) of the unusual hull shape. As she got closer, the view was more abeam the ship but you could still see the layout of the armaments. As she headed away, a view of the stern hinted at the hull layout but really emphasized the width of the deck.
The US Navy is currently reconsidering its needs and is looking for a frigate that is more heavily armed than the LCS designs but makes as much use of the hull designs as possible. We shall see how that all works out. In the meantime, this is one of the more unusual shapes afloat. The Zumwalt destroyer is even more unusual so I shall have to try and see that at some point too.
Just upstream from Tower Bridge along the South Bank is a World War II cruiser, HMS Belfast. Part of the Imperial War Museum, the Belfast has been moored up in London as a museum for many years. I visited it as part of a school trip when I was quite young. It is a slightly incongruous thing to see against the other occupants of the river. A while back it was given a repaint in a splinter camouflage scheme as opposed to the plain gray it had before. The rest of the river traffic is bright in comparison.
The ship is impressive enough when viewed from river level but, when you look from above, you get to see just how large it is. A light cruiser from that era is a substantial thing. Occasionally a Royal navy ship may visit the city and they have previously moored up alongside the Belfast. The comparison between the old and the new is quite striking. The angular lines of older ships compared to the more sweeping hull shapes show the age of the design. Sadly, I don’t have any images of that to share.
Alongside the clipper on the waterfront in San Diego is an even old sailing ship. This had the look more of a frigate from the times of Nelson. The shape of the hull is broad to provide a platform for the men and weapons and the gun ports on the side allowed the cannons to fire at any enemy. The boat looked exactly as you would expect for that vintage and, in keeping with the fashion of the day, an intricately carved figurehead was mounted on the bow.
Having grown up on the south coast of the UK, ships of this type were not unknown. HMS Victory was a ship I visited on a number of occasions and it was a big ship compared to this one but the lines are unmistakably similar. The idea of traveling around the world in something like this is fascinating (and terrifying) to me. Doing that and then getting shot at by some pretty unpleasant weaponry with access to minimal medical help if you got hurt is even more scary!