The Ministry of Defence is offering £5 million to have the masts removed from the wreck of the Richard Montgomery, an American liberty ship that broke her back and sank off Sheerness in August 1944, with 1400 tons (net explosive quantity of TNT) of explosives still on board. Tim Bell from Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club said, “I can see the sense in cutting the masts down because they are starting to collapse and rust and could fall onto the deck below where there are still 2,000 cases of cluster bombs.” More at KentOnline. Also see Tim Bell’s reply to this article. And the BBC website…
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.
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
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.
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.
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
The RYA is developing a ‘Return to Boating’ strategic framework which aims to create consistency across the boating community whilst also providing the freedom and autonomy to make decisions based on your club’s unique set of considerations. In the meantime, the RYA encourages your club to start considering the following:
- How could your club facilitate activity which minimises the risk of transmitting infection? (including operating within any necessary social restrictions, adequate cleaning & hygiene measures and deciding which communal areas of the club will need to remain closed).
- How can your club reduce the likelihood of a callout to emergency services? (enhanced risk assessment/management, maintenance and safety)
The RYA will support your club through this process and is planning a series of interactive webinars through their #SailFromHome programme to address each point in turn. Keep up to date here…
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.”
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.
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.
The 7 metre powerboat with outboard still attached has now been lifted and the warning buoys removed.
The RYA has written to members after approaching the government on behalf of boaters who need to access their boats whilst respecting Covid-19 guidelines: “We believe there are measures that could be permitted within the existing Government guidance to allow access for essential maintenance – and this applies not just to marinas, but also to club dinghy parks and boats on moorings. … With all sports now beginning to consider recovery, our plans are now well advanced on our ‘return to boating strategy’ in collaboration with the Sport and Recreation Alliance and their representations to Cabinet Office, as well as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. We are looking forward to supporting a safe and appropriate return to the water and we will be getting the message over that there is a very strong case for boating to be one of the first activities that could be resumed safely within any necessary parameters for social distancing, once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions.”
Keep updated on the Coronavirus section of the RYA website…