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


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HMS Kent (F78) alongside the Prince of Wales pier in 2012.


HMS Gleaner is the Royal Navy’s smallest commissioned vessel. The survey motor launch is an advanced survey vessel, using multi beam and sidescan sonar to collect data on the nature of the sea bed and the depth of water.

Gleaner – which carries the prefix Her Majesty’s Survey Motor Launch or HMSML – was built at Emsworth in Hampshire and launched on 18 October 1983.She was designed to carry out inshore survey work along the South Coast of England, but has since carried out surveys around the coast of the UK, as well as making visits to overseas ports. Gleaner is also believed to be the only Royal Navy ship to have paid a visit to Switzerland, having travelled up the Rhine for a visit to Basle in 1988.

She is currently using the port during her ongoing coastal survey work. 

August 1983 and one year on from the Falklands conflict, HMS Illustrious (R06) passes through the western entrance on a courtesy visit to Dover. Completed in 1982 she relieved HMS Invincible after the conflict ended. Offically classed as a Landing Platform Helicopter or LPH, otherwise known as a through deck cruiser, three Sea King and one Westland Wessex helicopter are ranged on the flight deck. She is escorted by an unidentified frigate as the tug Dominant or Diligent stands by. She called at the port again in 2001. HMS Illustrious is to be withdrawn in 2014 when HMS Ocean completes her refit. She faces an uncertain future as various ideas to convert her into a disaster relief ship, a visitor attraction at the port of Hull or even a commonwealth yacht have yet to come to fruition. Just as likely is a trip to Turkish breakers.


The writing on the photograph refers to an anti-clockwise circuit of the "UK flying the flag" promotional voyage she undertook in August 1983. 

How she might look if plans to convert her into a commonwealth yacht go ahead!

HMS Explorer (P164) arriving at speed, slows to enter the Eastern Entrance on the afternoon of the 14th April 2014, seen from the cliffs above the Eastern Docks. An example of the P2000 class training vessel that often call at the port, she left later the same day.

The type 23 Duke class frigate HMS Lancaster (F229) alongside the Cruise Terminal helping to promote the Holiday & Leisure Show 2014. Currently the only class of frigate in Royal Navy service. She was completed at Yarrow in 1991.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Rolfe.


Even the Army rolled into town in support!

HMS Puncher (P291) passes the cruise vessel Costa Voyager upon her arrival in 2010. This class of vessel is seen quite regularly here in Dover.

Puncher is assigned to the London URNU. For more information scroll down to HMS Trumpeter.

RFA Largs Bay (L3006) at Dover on the 30th May 2010. Cyclists on a fundraising ride for "Help for Heroes" were landed on the beach by landing craft from the vessel which then sailed later the same day. More pictures below.

Hitting the beach!

The Royal Marines Parachute Display Team

Largs Bay with Spitfire flypast.

MTB 102 in the Tidal Basin in the summer of 2012.

She is one of the very few remaining Motor Torpedo Boats that served with the Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy during the Second World War.She was constructed in 1936 and was the prototype vessel of her class.

HMS Kent (F78) preparing to come alongside the Prince of Wales Pier in September 2012. Fresh from her £24 million refit she honoured the airmen who took part in the Second World War "Channel Dash". She was alongside for four days and was open to the public for a limited time for tours of this modern warship and to meet her crew and Commander, Ben Ripley. The "Channel Dash" or Operation Fuller, took place in March 1941, when the German Pocket Battleships Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Prinz Eugen returned to Germany from Brest, France, supported by heavy aerial and surface units and despite valiant efforts by our Fleet Air Arm, safely made the passage home.


For more information visit the Fleet Air Arm Museum's website:

HMS Trumpeter lays over in the Tidal Basin 2012.

Trumpeter (P294) is one of fourteen in the P2000 class of Coastal Training Craft. They usually have on board elements of the University Royal Naval Units (URNU). Each of the vessels is assigned to a specific URNU, Trumpeter being attached to Cambridge.

Funnel detail of HMS Trumpeter (P294).

HMS Bulwark (L15).

Seen at anchor in the outer harbour in 2010. She is one of two Albion class vessels officially designated as Landing Platform Dock vessels or LPD's and was completed in 2004 by BAE Systems. 

HMS Smiter (P272) another of the P2000 class Coastal Training Class, she is assigned to the Oxford URNU and was constructed in 1986.

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