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New High-tech vessel Thame named by Deputy Mayor for Transport

Heidi Alexander, the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, has named the latest addition to the Port of London Authority (PLA) fleet of vessels that survey the bed of the tidal River Thames.

Covering a patch that extends from Richmond in Surrey to Gravesend in Kent, Thame works to help ensure that the river – the UK’s busiest inland waterway and second biggest port – is safe for freight and passenger vessels, as well as recreational river users.

The vessel deploys state-of-the-art sonar, laser and photographic equipment to map the river’s ever-changing contours and identify potential artefacts and hazards, hidden in its bank, jetties and walls. She is also available for commercial work.

Named after the Thames tributary that rises in Buckinghamshire, Thame was christened this morning (8 November) in a ceremony at Tower Pier, which also included a blessing by the Reverend Sophia Acland of All Hallows by the Tower.

Heidi Alexander, who also chairs the London and Thames Waterways Forum, said: “I’m delighted to officially name Thame. Her projects so far have included crucial work to support Transport for London deliver the new Woolwich Ferry terminals and ensure they can accommodate our new low-emission ferries.

“Safety on the water is of paramount importance for everyone connected with the Thames, so it’s reassuring to know there is another vessel out there working to ensure risks to river users are kept as low as possible.”

Currently, Thame is providing survey support for Tideway, the company delivering London’s new “super sewer”, the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Other recent commissions include survey work for several Thames crossings and terminal operators, including the Port of Tilbury.

Robin Mortimer, PLA chief executive, said: “Thanks to vessels like Thame, the 2035 Thames Vision, which targets greater river use at the heart of our growing city, is becoming a reality.

“Making sure our expert hydrographers have access to the latest technology and highly capable boats, is an essential part of our work to ensure that people can make the most of the river, safely.

“The preparatory work Thame is undertaking to help deliver key projects, such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel and new river crossings, is a great example of her flexibility, sustaining the long-term health and prosperity of the river.”

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  • The PLA works to ensure navigational safety along the tidal Thames, sharing its marine, environmental, planning and other expertise to promote use of the river and safeguard its unique marine environment.
  • The tidal Thames is one of the UK’s busiest waterways and is home to the country’s second biggest port by tonnage of goods handled.
  • Developed by the Port of London Authority (PLA) and river stakeholders over the last 18 months, the Thames Vision sets out six goals for increased river use:
  • The busiest ever Port of London, handling 60 – 80 million tonnes of cargo a year.
  • More goods and materials routinely moved between wharves on the river – every year over four million tonnes carried by water – taking over 400,000 lorry trips off the region’s roads.
  • Double the number of people travelling by river – reaching 20 million commuter and tourist trips every year.
  • Greater participation in sport and recreation on and alongside the water.
  • The river the cleanest since the Industrial Revolution, with improved habitats and awareness of heritage.
  • A riverside which is a magnet for ramblers, historians, artists and others, whether living nearby, on the river or travelling from further afield.

Enquiries: Alistair Gale: 07711 440736 or Nick Tennant: 07784 208074