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Independent shipping news, photography and more from the Dover Strait.
Independent shipping news, photography and more from the Dover Strait.

Channel Shipping

This page looks a little further than the port and marina. With details of some of the more interesting ships that have made a transit of the Strait of Dover and what makes them notable.

When visibility permits, it is always possible to watch the passing vessels at this point in the English Channel where it narrows to just over twenty miles.

With a decent pair of binoculars or a telescope, a vhf radio receiver and an AIS app for a smart phone it's surprising what you can see and identify.

If you ever wondered what that ship was on the horizon, maybe you can find her here!

You never know what is out there!

Captured heading down channel during April 2014 is type 45 Daring class destroyer HMS Dragon (D35). She was shadowing a Russian destroyer, pictured in the background, as she made a transit of the Dover Strait on passage to Limassol to refuel before heading to her final destination, the Black Sea and Ukraine. A sign that the unrest in the area looks set to continue.

HMS Dragon was handed over to the Royal Navy in August of 2011 and subsequently commissioned on the 20th April 2012. She is the first of the batch two type 45 destroyers and is fitted with enhanced onboard systems at the cutting edge of the latest technological advancements. She is one of a class of six ships that was originally intended to number twelve in total. Successsive Strategic Defence Spending Reviews have ensured the continued depletion of the exisiting fleet and also future projects.


Making her way up channel in the Northeast lane heading for Rotterdam recently, is the Semi-submersible Heavy Lift ship Zhen Hua 8. She and similar fleetmates can quite often be seen transporting container handling cranes to ports in north eastern Europe. They frequently call at Rotterdam and have also visited the Thames delivering shoreside equipment to the new Thamesport Container Terminal. This type of ship is able to flood or "dock down" with seawater ballast to enable large floating barge equipment, oil or drilling rigs and even other ships to be floated on to the deck. Once the item is in position and secured, the vessel then pumps out the seawater, prior to sailing. Unmistakable in profile, they make an impressive sight! 


Of interest to ferry enthusiasts was the transit of the Dover Strait by the diminutive German inter island ferry Just Mariam. She was built in 1980 and her destination was Tripoli. Presumably for further service she is now registered in The Togolese Republic. She was formerly named Uthlande 4 and has been replaced by a newbuild of the same name for German domestic service. She appeared to be making heavy weather of her voyage in the unseemly conditions at the time.

The 2013 built Maltese flagged Lewek Inspector made a southbound transit during daylight on the 2nd February 2014. Completed in 2013 for owners Forland Shipping she has been chartered by EMAS AMC and is a state of the art inspection, maintenance and repair vessel. She is due to call at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria on the 9th of this month carrying a variety of submersible photographic survey equipment.

The German submarine U31 passed through the Straits recently on her way to Plymouth where she took part in exercises with other NATO vessels. She returned to Eckernforde, Germany, where all submarines in the German Navy are based, on Friday 7th February and was off the French coast in the Northeast lane near Calais in the early afternoon.

The baltic cruiseferry Silja Festival was off Dover on Saturday the 1st February 2014. She has been chartered by the company Rio Tinto Alcan as an accomodation vessel to be based at the British Columbian port of Kitimat for nine months as modernisation and development work is carried out to facilities there. During her period of charter she will be renamed Delta Spirit Lodge. It is not the first time this ship has been used in such a role. It's quite a voyage for her as she will be calling at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and then through the Panama Canal before making her way north off the western seaboard of the United States before finally arriving in Canada. A trip of approximately 13500 miles.

Berge Stahl, when constructed in 1986 was the largest dry bulk carrier in the world. She makes up to 10 round trips to Europe from Brazil each year and can be seen in the Deep Water Route as she heads for Europoort loaded with Iron Ore.
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