Six weeks after the biggest ever pageant on the Thames, London’s river and docks are now welcoming vessels large and small once again as they arrive for the 2012 Olympic Games.
What a place to be. This year the docks are truly coming back to life.Gareth Stephens, Canal & River Trust
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. They 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.”
Cruise ship Deutschland arrived earlier today, 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.
Gareth Stephens of the 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.
“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.”