Medway and Swale Heritage Harbours update

A joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust (MHT) and National Historic Ships (NHS) Shipshape Network, with strong support from European Maritime Heritage (EMH), proposes that historic ports and harbours in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland become officially recognised as ‘Heritage Harbours’. The developing Heritage Harbours recognise the great value in sensitively developing their, often superb, historic buildings; waste land; mooring; and maintenance facilities for both local and visiting historic vessels and are identified within the NHS Shipshape Network regions.

MEDWAY HH1 – The proposal to designate Medway as the first British heritage harbour was presented to a meeting, of the local maritime heritage community and associated stakeholders at the Sun Pier House tea rooms on 10 December 2018. The meeting, at Sun Pier House, Chatham, was well attended by some forty enthusiastic representatives from the local historic vessels; the Medway Council; MHT Trustees; the Thames Sailing Barge community and representatives from Faversham. Medway Council have appointed a senior officer to represent the council on the Medway HH
forum group. We are in discussions with the directors of Sail Training International, with a view to Medway being a Tall Ships race port in 2025. This will be the main agenda item at the next Medway Heritage group meeting. The ‘Boat Shed’ and other historic buildings and wharves, which form part of the historic Sheerness naval dockyard, may lead to Sheerness becoming an integral part of Medway Heritage Harbour.

FAVERSHAM & OARE HH2 – Faversham & Oare Creeks Heritage (FOHHG)
have met regularly since early 2019 at Faversham Guildhall. Aims and objectives have been developed and considerable work in optimising balanced development and improvement of the creeks has already been carried out by group members. An exciting feature is that Kent County Council has continued the design work for the replacement Faversham upper creek bridge through the lockdown.

Briggs recruiting for marine services with Peel Ports

Briggs Marine have been chosen by Peel Ports as the preferred bidder to provide a range of marine services at the Port of Sheerness. After completing the contract agreements they hope to start the new services in July. These will include Mooring Services (i.e. handling the mooring lines for vessels berthing and unberthing), which will include the provision of new line handling vessels, River Patrols, to include debris collection, and Workboat Services, for which again they will be providing a new work boat.

Briggs are recruiting for Mooring Coxswains and Mooring Assistants. Details are on the Briggs Marine website at https://www.briggsmarine.com/careers/

Grain Edge buoy consultation, ends 8 July

What do we want, conical or cardinal?

Peel Ports London Medway is exploring the feasibility of altering the Grain Edge Unlit Buoy to a Lit East Cardinal Lightbuoy (exact light characteristic TBC). The proposal will be subject to a consultation period that will run until 8 July 2020. Comments and queries should be sent to: allmedwaymarinemanagers@peelports.com

Photo Wil Pretty

Following the consultation period all comments received will be assessed, the Port of Sheerness (as the Local Lighthouse Authority) will make its decision and any proposed change will be promulgated by a further Notice to Mariners.

Revenge wreck to be removed next week

Photo Peel Ports

Peel Ports have advised that, due to movement and deterioration, the steel framed remains of the vessel “Revenge” that was abandoned in Faversham Creek will be partially removed. The vessel “Liftmoor” will be on site from Monday 1st June 2020 and will be working for approximately 5 days to remove the bow section and parts of the superstructure that are causing a hazard to navigation. The operation will involve cutting/grinding of the steelwork and due to the nature of this “hotwork” passing craft are requested to navigate with caution. “Liftmoor” will maintain a listening watch on VHF Channel 74 at all times.

Monster rigs at Sheerness

From Peel Ports Notice to Mariners No 25 of 2020

Peel Ports have advised that two HUGE ‘jack-up’ drilling rigs, 547 ft high, are due to be towed to Sheerness where they will be laid up for approximately six months. The ‘Prospector 1’ arrived on 16 May and the ‘Prospector 5’ is currently due in August. The rigs will intrude into part of the navigable channel adjacent to the old Ro-Ro berth and will partially obscure vision around Garrison Point into Sheerness Harbour. The diagram shows the rigs’ orientation and approximate positions

Photo KentOnline

According to KentOnline, the rigs are expected to stay for six months while their owner Borr Drilling tries to find new work for them. Both of the Friede and Goldman JU2000E-type rigs were built in 2013 in China. They have been used in the North Sea for oil and gas exploration. They can operate in 400 feet of water in all weather and can drill to a depth of 35,000 feet. Each £123m rig boasts three cranes, six engines, a helicopter landing deck and accommodation for more than 140 workers.

It’s Official: Return to boating from today!

The UK government now allows unlimited outdoor activities, including all watersports, in England from 13 May. Also there is no limit on car travel to enjoy these activities.

However only members of one household can be together. Also we must continue to observe hygiene and social distancing rules and be very careful to mitigate any risk to the emergency services. Boating is the safest outdoor activity (or “sport” if you prefer) for social distancing and many of us rely on it for our mental and physical well-being. However incidents of irresponsible boating behaviour risk jeopardising our new found freedom, so let’s take care!

Unlike other harbour authorities, Peel Ports have resisted the temptation to add to the confusion by imposing restrictions on recreational boating on the Medway and Swale. However clubs and marinas have been advised to carry out risk assessments and document procedures, so we should not rush back to our boats until these measures are in place.

RYA updated Covid-19 guidance for affiliated clubs.

British Marine Coronavirus Hub

VE Day 75th Anniversary, Fri 8 May

Marking the end of the war in Europe and the Battle of the Atlantic, the VE Day 75 Anniversary celebrates the success of Allied Forces and reflects/remembers the sacrifice of those Naval Service and Merchant seafarers who lost their lives in the Second World War. Sheerness and Chatham Docks had a key role in the war effort so Peel Ports London Medway will be supporting the campaign by inviting all vessels alongside on 8th May 2020 to:
• Sound ship’s horn at 1500 (to last no longer than one minute)
• Shine search/spot lights into the night sky at 2130 until 2135 (time adjusted from the original King’s Speech in 1945 to achieve maximum effect in darker skies across the UK)

From Peel Ports Notice To Mariners 20/2020

Obstruction in Bridge Reach (Updated 28 May) – GONE

Peel Ports have issued a notice to mariners warning of an obstruction with only a foot of water over it, right in the middle of the river by the Russian submarine. The survey team and divers say it seems to be a sunken boat.

“During a recent hydrographic survey of the Port of Rochester an unknown obstruction, possibly a wreck, has been identified in Bridge Reach. The obstruction is marked with an unlit, yellow ‘can’ buoy denoted “Wreck”. The depth above the obstruction at chart datum is approx. 0.3m. Mariners transiting Bridge Reach should navigate with extreme caution. When available, divers will be deployed to ascertain the nature of the object which will assist with the Port Authority’s subsequent actions.”

Buoys marking the wreck

UPDATE: 7.5.2020 (Notice to Mariners 23/2020)

“Diving operations are due to take place in Bridge Reach, Port of Rochester to ascertain the nature of an unknown submerged obstruction. Dive works are planned for Wednesday 13th May 2020 will be carried out over the morning low water period. The dive team will be working from the Briggs Marine vessel “Forth Linesman”, who will be monitoring VHF Channel 74 at all times. All passing vessels are required to navigate with extreme caution and minimise their wash. Diving is expected to be concentrated around the following approximate position: 51 23’.72 N – 000 30’.34 E”

UPDATE 22.5.2020 (Notice to Mariners 23/2020)

Diving operations are due to take place in Bridge Reach, Port of Rochester to remove a submerged obstruction confirmed during previous dive ops. Dive works are planned for Thursday and Friday 28th / 29th May 2020 and will be carried out over the late morning low water periods. The dive team will be working from the Briggs Marine vessel “Forth Linesman”, who will be monitoring VHF Channel 74 at all times. All passing vessels are required to navigate with extreme caution and minimise their wash.

UPDATED 28.5.2020

Due to technical issues with salvage craft the planned diving operation detailed above is postponed until further notice. An update to this notice will be issued as soon as new dates are confirmed.

UPDATED 01.6.2020

The 7 metre powerboat with outboard still attached has now been lifted and the warning buoys removed.