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Thames set for busy Olympics

HMS Ocean (click on image to enlarge)
HMS Ocean on an earlier visit to London
(click on image to enlarge)

Six weeks after the biggest ever pageant on the Thames, London’s river and docks are set to start welcoming vessels large and small as they arrive for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The ships coming to London range from the Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean and cruise ship Deutschland, to the historic ‘clipper’ sailing ship Stad Amsterdam. Also returning to the capital is the sailing ship Belem, which joined the Avenue of Sail over the Diamond Jubilee river pageant weekend. The vessels are coming to the capital to host tourists, spectators and security forces and will be taking berths in the river and the enclosed docks in Docklands and east London which were once part of the largest port in the world.

“In these three weeks running up to the Games we are going to see masses of activity on the river as people get vessels in place ahead of the opening ceremony,” says PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt. “If the pageant was a testament to what smaller vessels can do on the river, the Olympics is really going to showcase its capabilities for larger vessels, as a route for spectators travelling to the Games and moving freight.”

Vessels coming for the Olympics will start arriving on the Thames later this week, including HMS Ocean which will moor on the Thames at Greenwich ready for her role as a helicopter landing platform and logistics hub in support of maritime and air security operations.

Cruise ship Deutschland will lock into West India Dock early on 24 July, ready to accommodate guests of the German Olympic Sports Confederation during the Olympics. The ship, which had a trial run into West India Dock last July, is the largest vessel ever to enter the Dock. She will join the cruise ship, Caledonia Sky and the clipper, Stad Amsterdam will take their berths in West India Dock on 23 July.

Gareth Stephens of West India Docks’ owners, Canal & River Trust, added: “At the beginning of June we hosted around 300 vessels taking part in the river pageant. By 27 July you’ll see cruise ships, super yachts and large sailing ships here, on the doorstep of London’s new financial district, and close by the centre of London 2012 Games activity. What a place to be; this year the docks are truly coming back to life.”

On 26 July, fourteen Dutch sailing vessels of the ‘Sail Greenwich’ fleet will sail upriver as far as Blackwall Point (off the northern tip of Greenwich Peninsula), before heading for their moorings off Woolwich Arsenal Pier. The Port of Tilbury’s London Cruise Terminal will host the fleet the night before. The vessels will sail up river from their moorings daily over the Olympic period.

All large vessels coming on the river will be overseen the PLA’s navigation centres at Gravesend and Woolwich and guided to their berths by a PLA pilot. The PLA will be controlling river traffic around the final leg of the torch relay on the Thames on the morning of 27 July.

“This Games is about legacy,” concluded Richard Everitt. “With spectators in the Games’ river zone relying heavily on river transport for getting to and from events it underlines that we already have the busiest and most flexible inland waterway in the UK. That combined, with demonstrating what London has to offer people operating cruise vessels around the world, is a fitting legacy.”

Details of vessel arrivals are on this website.

For filming enquiries and interviews contact:

West India Dock and Canal & River Trust team
Fran Read, national press officer, Canal & River Trust
t 020 7985 7276 email

Port of London Authority
Martin Garside
m: 07736 362385 email
Alistair Gale
m: 07711 440736 email

Notes to Editors:

  • On 12 July 2012 the canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks cared for by British Waterways in England and Wales will transfer to the ownership of the Canal & River Trust. This represents the next exciting chapter in the 200-year history of the waterways. When launched the Trust will be one of the largest charities in the UK. It will give people a greater role in the running of their local waterways, secure investment in the historic network and open up new sources of income. www.waterscape.com/trust