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Thames Olympic Update

Some of the 19 Olympics-bound vessels piloted into London by the PLA
Some of the 19 Olympics-bound vessels piloted into London by the PLA
(click on image to enlarge)
  • 19 vessels in for the Olympics
  • Supply line and passengers the focus

After two weeks of naval vessels, cruise ships, sailing boats and super yachts arriving in London in increasing numbers for the Olympics, the Thames is now set to play its traditional role: keeping the capital and the south east supplied with life’s essentials: food, fuel and clothing, says the Port of London Authority (PLA).

Vessels started arriving on 11 July and, by the evening of the Games opening ceremony, the PLA had piloted 19 Olympics-bound vessels into London including the helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean and cruise ships Gemini, Braemar, Deutschland and Caledonia Sky.  In the same two weeks 168 large commercial vessels, such as container ships and oil tankers, arrived in the port keeping families, tourists and competitors in London and the south east fed, cooled by air conditioning and with vehicles fuelled for journeys.

PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt said:

“Naval vessels, cruise ships, sailing boats and super yachts often come to London.  It has been unusual to handle so many in such a concentrated period of time. Throughout we’ve been doing our core job: keeping the second biggest port in the UK and the country’s busiest inland waterway running safely. 

“With the Games underway our immediate priorities are to keep this essential ‘supply line’ going, sustaining the Olympics with essential supplies and managing safety on a river which, in central London, is going to be much busier than normal.  To do this we’ve got additional launches on the river, all leave has been cancelled and we have staff working extra shifts to cover key patrol and port control duties.

“The Thames also has a key role in helping spectators get to riverside Games venues and in helping the same spectators and competitors relax on charter boats in the evenings.”

All large vessels coming on the river are overseen the PLA’s navigation centres at Gravesend and Woolwich, 24-hour a day harbour patrols and guided to their berths by PLA pilots.  The PLA controlled river traffic around the Thames legs of the torch relay on 27 July.  Earlier this week it established ‘gatekeeper’ patrols at Gravesend and Richmond to monitor and assist recreational vessels looking to travel into London through the Olympics in order to minimise congestion on the river in central London.   

“A job on this scale only happens with the help and understanding of river users and the wider community.  We want to extend our thanks to all of them, particularly the recreational boating community who have observed the ‘harbour full’ notice we had to put out some months ago to keep river congestion in central London to a minimum.  The forbearance and understanding of all has been invaluable.”