Our task was to man a lookout post at the end of the course, armed with a megaphone and multiple radios. Duties included regulating traffic, dealing with any vessels making unsafe maneuvers and reporting any overloaded or badly navigated vessels to EA control. Another job for the lookout is to report the end of each racing session to the radio network. Incidents dealt with included a traffic jam caused by vessels travelling slowly, and a vessel which collided with the finishing box! The lookout position has the advantage of being located right next to finish line, giving a good view of the racing, and also of the many interesting and unusual vessels passing by on the navigation channel. The included many heritage vessels, some steam powered vessels and even an amphibious car!For the 4th consecutive year, MVS City of London & Upper Thames were invited to assist the Environment Agency with their work at Henley Royal Regatta 2013, working alongside EA volunteers and full time staff. This prestigious rowing regatta has been held since 1839 and is attended by competitors from all over the world, not to mention several Olympic champions.
Sunday 23rd February saw the combined Units of Upper Thames and the City of London Maritime Volunteer Service assist the Poplar, Blackwell & District Rowing Club (PBDR) in the annual Greenwich Head Race. This event is an integral part of the annual events the MVS support, through the provision of trained volunteers and crews and Londinium 1, our 45ft Nelson Class River Launch. The event was at risk earlier in the month due to the excessive rainfall which had caused flooding on the non-tidal sections of the Thames. The crew and volunteers mustered at HMSP at 0730 on the morning of the event and got underway by 0800. Making way to PBDR, Londinium 1 was on station for 0830hrs, they were greeted by a workboat and given a PBDR radio with instructions to make their way to mark the finish and as marshal for the end of the race on a line between West India Dock on the north bank and the O2 Centre on the south bank. The race had been moved further downstream to avoid river hazards and to limit the effect of wind over tide. Although winds of 30kts were expected, the race passed uneventfully, finishing at about 1045hrs with all rowing crews making safe passage to their respective clubs. Skipper Phil Collins did an excellent job of holding position on an ebb tide with a stiff breeze. Having returned the radio, trainee crew aboard Londinium 1 were given an opportunity to helm and practice bumps and trots on the return trip to HMS President, and at midday, with all fast, enjoyed a well deserved glass of shandy in the Dickens Inn.
After departure from her berth, food and drinks supplied and prepared by Joli Riley with help from Kate Downer was enjoyed by all. 11.45 pm saw L1 in an excellent position by Westminster Bridge and all aboard joined the countdown clearly heard from the massive crowds and public address systems. On the stroke of midnight the fireworks display started along with music and ‘flavoured’ confetti and smoke. After the river closure was rescinded Londinium 1 started its return journey to its mooring at HMS President. As we approached London Bridge a mayday call from a private vessel was received reporting its immediate danger of sinking, the deck watch spotted the boat near the north bank by London Bridge and we immediately turned and started our approach. Deck Crew were positioned and instructed to prepare heaving lines, all guests were informed and directed to their seats to keep companionways clear and London VTS were radioed with information regarding our actions. We approached alongside on the port side , as a commercial rib was attending on the starboard side, The vessel which had been holed in a collision was taking on water rapidly and was already bow down. MVS crew took off the last two passengers and finally the skipper after checking vessel was indeed empty of occupants. All rescued personnel were in mild shock, but eventually were calmed, seated and questioned regarding total compliment. This information was pasted on to London VTS and we were requested to drop survivors off at St Katherine’s Pier where emergency services were waiting. Report by Don Downer, MVS City of London Head of Unit
On the weekend of the 7th September, a crew of 6 led by Skipper and National Fleet Manager David Lockwood took V104 on it's first Coastal passage since arriving at it's London Base. The destination was Shotley Marina in Harwich. The outbound trip took us from central london, down the Thames and through the estuary(Southend pier being a major landmark!). We then proceeded northwards through the mudflats of the Essex coast to arrive in the lock at Shotley Marina 12 hours after departure. Due to the tides the trip back on Sunday, following the same route took just 8 hours! The passage involved some exacting navigation through the mud flats of the Estuary, and all the crew had the opportunity to gain experience in navigation, helming and use of the radar(which is not normally used in Central London). It was also gave us as a unit a better understanding of our new vessel's capabilities and the practicalities of using it for overnight trips.
On request from an MOD representative the MVS City of London unit were engaged to collect a party of UK and USA Senior Naval Officers and Scientific advisors from Westminster and transport them to Greenwich for the Dreadnought Dinner. A welcome party meet the guests as planned and they were escorted aboard Londinium 1, to be offered a traditional tot of rum. The trip was extended on request of our guests to include some helm time and a passage passed the 02 and through the Prime Meridian, picked out by laser from Greenwich Observatory. Champagne (courtesy of MOD) and food (courtesy of MVS) was served and places of historical interest pointed out by our knowledgeable crew members. A lot of interest was shown regarding the M.V.S. and some valuable and informative dialogue took place. Our guests were disembarked exactly on time to a waiting escort and farewells made. All in all, a very enjoyable evening was had by all and the MVS crew were congratulated on a job well done.
The highlight of the event took place after the final race when the Royal Barge 'Gloriana' rowed down the course. She was escorted to the start by Environment Agency launches which then blocked the entrances to the course to prevent any obstructions. Our thanks go to the Environment Agency for sharing their amenities and providing warm welcome for the volunteers.Following successful involvement at last years event, MVS City of London & Upper Thames were invited to assist the Environment Agency with their work at Henley Royal Regatta 2013. This prestigious rowing regatta has been held since 1839 and is attended by competitors from all over the world, not to mention several Olympic champions. Our main task over the 5 day event was to man a lookout post at the end of the course, armed with a megaphone and multiple radios. Duties included regulating traffic, dealing with any vessels making unsafe manoeuvres and reporting any overloaded or badly navigated vessels to EA control. Volunteers also had the opportunity to assist as crew on-board EA launches including chances to take the helm. They were able to observe the enforcement team and operational control of a large event in action.