Exclusive short course on China’s seaborne trade and maritime defence

Thursday 11th September 2014

This short course is organised with the support of the China Maritime Centre and will be led by the Centre’s Director Dr Minghua Zhao, international shipping analyst Richard Scott and naval defence specialist David Wilkinson.

The course will investigate China’s rapid growth in seaborne trade of all types and the impact upon global maritime business; it will also examine the recent history of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (the PLAN) in the light of American and Chinese concerns.


What will you study?

The key topics covered will be:•China’s Cargo Trade: attaining global giant status
•China’s Oil and Gas Trade
•The People’s Liberation Army [Navy] (PLAN): The rise of capability and ambition

china - banner

Location and Duration of the Course

This course will take place from 9.30am – 4.30pm on Thursday 11th September 2014 at
University of Greenwich, Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS.

How to Apply

The cost of the course is £90 per person and will include course materials, lunch, refreshments and a certificate of attendance.
All places must be booked in advance by Sunday 31st August 2014. Please use our booking website http://tinyurl.com/qebczo3

The art of teaching war – public lecture at the University of Greenwich

Chris Bellamy

How do you force someone to fight for you – to go to war? This and other questions will be addressed at a free public lecture by a military expert and University of Greenwich academic.

Professor Chris Bellamy is Director of the university’s Greenwich Maritime Institute, in the Faculty of Architecture, Construction & Humanities. An award-winning author and former defence correspondent at The Independent, Chris is also an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union. His views have been widely sought by media over the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Don’t try this at home…: Teaching War, 400 BC to the present takes place at the university’s Greenwich Campus on Tuesday 22 July 2014 at 6pm.

Chris says: “Warfare – the use of violence for political ends – is as old as recorded history and, some would argue, is the ‘dark side of civilisation’. Warfare requires communities organised on some scale and a measure of authority to force people to participate in an exhausting, terrifying, arduous and often tedious activity which runs against many of our natural instincts.

“From the beginnings of recorded civilisation the communities most successful in armed conflict triumphed through better organisation, equipment, training, tactics, and the conceptual component – an intellectual understanding of the nature and processes of warfare. To win in battle, and in warfare more generally, training and education are key.”

Technology, technique and science all feature strongly in the history of war. Examples developed and explored by Chris during his 13 years as a teacher at the Defence Academy of the UK at Shrivenham reveal that, until relatively recently, one combatant seldom had a decisive technological edge over another. It was discipline, training and technique– how they used it – that determined success.

Chris has taught these ideas to students, including many serving members of the armed forces, for many years. He will present a number of case studies, including analysis of the leap from mechanical energy – bows and arrows and catapults, to chemical energy – guns and rockets. Chris will also discuss the importance of indirect fire – artillery firing at targets which those manning the guns cannot see.

Without this development in technique the First World War, the start of which is being commemorated this year, could not have happened as it did. Yet very few historians understand what indirect fire is, or mention its decisive role in shaping the fighting on land, particularly on the Western front.

Don’t try this at home…: Teaching War, 400 BC to the present. University of Greenwich Maritime Institute, presented with the Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation. Tuesday 22 July 2014, 6pm until 7.30 pm. Room 080, Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, SE10, 9LS. To be followed by a wine reception.

All are welcome to this free lecture but to book a place for the wine reception, please contact the Greenwich Maritime Institute on gmi@gre.ac.uk.

This lecture precedes the 36th Annual Conference of the International Standing Committee for the History of Education, Education, War and Peace, to be held at the Institute of Education, University of London, 23–26 July 2014.

Mary Clare Martin, Ewa Sidorenko and Leticia Fernandez-Fontecha Rumeu, of the Department of Education and Community Studies, will be speaking on a panel at the ISCHE conference, entitled Survival, Pain and Memory: recovering experiences of war, peace and education in Spain, Poland, Gibraltar and Britain, 1902-1950.

FREE Conference Places – Food, Fisheries and Tourism: New Opportunities for Sustainable Development


The INTERREG 2 Seas Programme Authorities and the TourFish (Tourism for Food, Inshore Fishing and Sustainability) cluster partners have the pleasure of inviting you to:

Food, Fisheries and Tourism: New Opportunities for Sustainable Development

1724 shutterstock_58187899 tourists-and-boats-guilvenec

This two-day European event on 23rd and 24th June 2014 will focus on how agro-food, fisheries and responsible tourism can work together to deliver new opportunities for sustainable development along the coast and in the towns and countryside in the 2 Seas area.

Are you are a producer (farmer or fisher), tourism professional or provider, a planner or an educationalist? Would you like to learn more about new opportunities for sustainable development by bringing together food, fisheries and responsible tourism? Would you like to share your experiences and ideas with others who could work with you to develop a sustainable future for all three sectors?

If so, then do not miss this opportunity!


Day One: Monday 23rd June 2014, 10:00 – 17:30

Registration will be followed by the following activities:

  • Indoor and outdoor TourFish photographic exhibition
  • A guided tour of the working fishing beach
  • Fishmongery and Hawking educational session
  • Chef demonstrations

Welcome and Introduction to TourFish

The GIFS Project

The Fish & Chip Project

Keynote Address Responsible Tourism, Sense of Place and Local Economic Development, Professor Harold Goodwin, Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism

Session 1 Boosting your regional identity: Discover how regional branding can stimulate regional development, entrepreneurship and innovation – led by Vlaams Huis van de Voeding (Flanders House of Food)

Session 2 The Taste of Place: A curious journey to the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands – led by the Municipality of Middelburg with Dr Gerard van Keken

Day One will conclude with a networking reception.


Day Two: Tuesday 24th June 2014, 09:30 – 15:00

Keynote Address Clare Devereux, Food Matters

Session 3 Fish, Food and Festivals: Responsible tourism and fishing- led community regeneration – led by Sidmouth Trawlers, Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society and University of Brighton

Session 4 Education, fish and food: Raising awareness of food, sustainability and responsible tourism– led by University of Brighton, Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, Flanders House of Food and Nausicaa

Session 5 From Catch to Plate & Plough to Plate: Sustainable seafood and local land products for today and tomorrow– led by Nausicaa and Taste South East

Conclusion: Interactive conference summary


This conference will be translated into French and Dutch

Delegates are also invited to attend the Hastings Mid-Summer Fish-Fest on the weekend of 21st-22nd June and will also receive a FREE ticket to a folk concert on the evening of Sunday 22nd June at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings. Please see our website for more details.


General Information

Conference Venue

St Mary in the Castle

7 Pelham Crescent


East Sussex TN34 3AF




Free Registration at www.gre.ac.uk/gmi/tourfish


For more information please contact:

TourFish Communications Team

University of Greenwich


Tel: +44 (0)20 8331 7688

Public Seminar – The Challenge of Designing New Vessels for the 21st Century Tidal Thames

The next public research seminar of the 2013-14 programme will be taking place on Wednesday 12th February 2014. 

During this presentation Alan Cartwright of Warsash Maritime Academy will reflect upon the challenges and factors of designing vessels for the tidal Thames and how the Port of London Authority (PLA) has been leading the research and development of both technology and operations. 

After enjoying a rewarding career as a General List engineer officer in the Royal Navy, Alan Cartwright was appointed to head the Marine Engineering Department of the Port of London Authority in January 1998.  During his service with the PLA, Alan led a number of substantial projects, all focused on introducing more capable and environmentally efficient vessels for operations on the tidal Thames.  Under Alan’s direction and with the PLA’s support, pioneering research work was undertaken by Southampton University into minimising vessel wash and resistance for shallow water operations.  This led to the design and build of the PLA’s first class of low-wash, low-emissions patrol launches, Richmond and Chelsea, which operate in the upper reaches of the tidal Thames.  The innovative concept, research and vessel build was recognised by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and Lloyd’s Register, winning first prize at their international Ship Safety Award, 2008.

Development of the low-wash / low-emissions concept provided the opportunity to rationalise the PLA’s vessel fleet of patrol and pilotage vessels, in which further research work was undertaken by Newcastle University, leading to the build of four combined service catamarans by specialist boat builder Alnmaritec Limited, of Northumberland.  The Bridge Class of pilotage and patrol vessels (Lambeth, Southwark, Kew and Barnes) has now been in service for three years, demonstrating great operational flexibility and immense fuel and emissions savings.

Since 2011, Alan’s primary focus has been on the design and build of a new and very capable Moorings Maintenance Vessel, to replace the PLA’s old salvage ships Hookness and Crossness.  This complex and very capable vessel, to be named London Titan, is now at an advanced stage of build at Manor Marine, Portland, Dorset.  In December 2013, Alan moved on from the PLA, to start the third phase of his maritime career, as Commercial Manager of Warsash Maritime Academy, the world renowned provider of Merchant Navy education and training.

Location: Edinburgh Room (075), Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS

Time: The seminar will begin at 6pm with refreshments available from 5.30pm

Anyone is welcome to attend this free event and no booking is required. If you would like any further information however please telephone the GMI Office on 020 8331 7688 or email gmi@gre.ac.uk.

International Conference Announcement – Maritime and Naval Power in Two World Wars – 11/12th April 2014

On the centenary of the First World War this conference seeks to promote an international and interdisciplinary dialogue among naval and maritime historians. Drawing upon the latest scholarship the conference aims to highlight a wide array of topics such as naval and maritime communications, logistics, international relations, regional studies, economic issues, the role of ports
and internal transport, morale and grand strategy.

To visit the conference web page please click here: http://tinyurl.com/ovp3luu

Scholars from all over the world will be presenting at the conference on a range of themes and issues. Anyone interested is welcome to attend as a delegate, visit the conference website for details fo how to book your place. The registration fee is just £120 per person for two days and includes a conference pack, refreshments and lunches.

Please click here to view the Draft Programme

Date: 11 – 12 April 2014

Location: University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, UK

Organisers: Greenwich Maritime Institute AND Global War Studies

Courtesy of the US Navy
Courtesy of the US Navy

Final Fateful Voyage is Relived in GMI Public Seminar

A first-hand account of the sinking of the bulk-carrier RB Angus forms the subject of the latest seminar to be hosted by the Greenwich Maritime Institute.

The seminar by Robin Mallam, who was the ship’s Second Officer on its final voyage in 1967 took place on Wednesday 4 December 2013.

MV R B Angus was owned by Canadian Pacific Bermuda and operated on a run between British Columbia and Japan in the mid-1960s. She was carrying concentrates and lumber when she foundered in heavy weather in the North Pacific on 17 December 1967, without loss of life.

Robin Mallam gave his fascinating insider’s view of events leading up to the drama of the sinking and the final transfer of the crew to Japan. Robin started his career in the Merchant Navy, serving in cargo and passenger ships, before transferring to Canadian Pacific. He ended his career as Director of Operations of the company’s fleet of time-chartered bulk-carriers. Robin joined the Honourable Company of Master Mariners in 1991 and is a Liveryman.

The Loss of the RB Angus, was also the Institute of Seamanship Annual Lecture

For more details on the research seminar series, or to find out more about studying at the Greenwich Maritime Institute, see www.gre.ac.uk/gmi or call 020 8331 7688.

Veteran Scottish steamer recces vast new London Gateway port and deftly dodges 1.5 kilotons of High Explosive

On Sunday 29 September some of GMI’s staff and alumni  took the opportunity to explore the River Thames from the City to Southend and the mouth of the River Medway, including a unique close reconnaissance of the new London Gateway port which is due to open in November 2013, aboard the Glasgow-based steamer Waverley.

Waverley, completed in 1947,  spends her summers cruising on the Firth of Clyde into areas of spectacular natural beauty. She also spends spring and autumn sailing in other areas including  south-west England (Dorset and Devon),  the Bristol Channel, the south coast of England and the Thames estuary.  Since 1974 she has been owned by a registered charity (Waverley Steam Navigation Company) on behalf of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS), itself a charity, and operated by Waverley Excursions Ltd, a subsidiary of WSN. She is described as the ‘World’s last Sea-Going Paddle Steamer’, and sometimes cruises out of protected estuarine waters and across more open seas, including up the east coast to Harwich, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth and Southwold. She sailed across the Channel to commemorate the sinking of her predecessor, built in 1899, during the 1940  Dunkirk evacuation.  Being a paddle steamer she is extremely stable, but she only has one giant engine, which means she cannot turn very tightly by contra-rotating the paddles.  But she is manoeuvrable enough, even for the relatively constricted waters of the Pool of London.

The Paddle Steamer (PS) Waverley
The Paddle Steamer (PS) Waverley

And the engine is open for all to see, her immaculate, slightly greased metallic silver connecting rods, carrying the energy from the pistons, pumping rhythmically to turn the crankshaft in a stimulating display of raw power.

On that special Sunday she left Tower pier at 10.00 hrs sharp with about 200 passengers aboard.  She sailed west, towards London Bridge, swung round above the site of the old Roman  bridge, and headed out under Tower Bridge which opened for her. The Waverley cruise has become something of a GMI tradition over the last five years, but the prospect of a close encounter the new mega-port on the verge of completion made this year’s excursion particularly timely.  Aboard were Chris Bellamy, on his first Waverley trip accompanied by Jos McDiarmid, a friend specialising in antique prints and a qualified London tour guide, the usual suspect Dr David Hilling, a world expert on ports, Richard Scott, and graduates and continuing students from the Maritime History MA including John Allan,  John Mann and his son, Robert Milburn, Tim Carter, his partner Anne and friend, and Peter Jarrett, plus a representative of the new Maritime Security MSc, Leo Balk, who is a former Commander in the US Navy.

The weather was overcast and quite stormy, and on the wider river there was a strong wind which made using maps challenging, but blew any cobwebs away. After Tower Bridge, Brunel’s Thames Tunnel and Canary Wharf, Greenwich came into view.

Member of general public points out world-famous GMI offices
Member of general public points out world-famous GMI offices

Soon afterwards there was a good view of the Emirates AirLine cable car, which is a spectacular sight but might be more useful if it went somewhere, either to the

Excel Exhibition Centre, further east,  or directly to London City Airport.  But maybe that was just a ‘bridge’ too far.

‘Sail on, silver girl’.  Waverley passes under a bridge over troubled waters…
‘Sail on, silver girl’. Waverley passes under a bridge over troubled waters…

Then came the Thames Barrier, designed to defend the Capital against the power of the sea.  One of the barriers was obligingly raised in ‘defensive’  mode.  The Thames  Barrier,  which has been operational since 1982, has a finite life, and will need to be replaced at some point, but a March 2009 study suggested that it  would last decades longer than the date of 2030 when its designers thought it would have to be replaced. In part, this was because they had apparently overestimated the effects of climate change.  The barrier was designed with an allowance for sea level rise of 8mm per year until 2030, which has not been realised in the intervening years.  The Environment Agency have no plans to replace it before 2070 and a decision on its replacement, which might be further downstream, therefore needs to be made in the middle of the century.

Thames Barrier with one of the  flood gates raised in ‘defensive’ mode
Thames Barrier with one of the flood gates raised in ‘defensive’ mode

The route so far can be traced on the Google Earth photo, below. The next part of the trip was more revealing.  The Thames Barrier is not the only London flood defence by any means.  Two kilometres from the eastern end of London City Airport, ad Ordnance Survey grid 456817, on the left of the river (to Port), we saw the imposing and intimidating outline of the Barking Creek barrier, which can be dropped as a giant guillotine to seal Barking Creek against the same tidal surges from the North Sea that the Thames Barrier is designed to thwart.

First part of Waverley’s journey, 10.00-11.00 hrs. Google Earth, adapted and annotated by author
First part of Waverley’s journey, 10.00-11.00 hrs.
Google Earth, adapted and annotated by author
The Barking Creek Barrier (north side of the river Thames)
The Barking Creek Barrier (north side of the river Thames)

And then, further on, on the ‘right bank’ of the river (always seen from the direction of flow, remember…), the Dartford Creek (River Darent) tidal barrier. OS grid 541778:

Dartford (River Darent) Tidal Barrier (south side of the river Thames)
Dartford (River Darent) Tidal Barrier (south side of the river Thames)

Four kilometres beyond this point the Waverley passed under the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) bridge, which carries the southbound carriageway of the M25 orbital road southward.  The northbound carriageway passes through the Dartford tunnel a little before. The central point of the bridge is at OS grid 570764.

The best shot of the bridge is probably taken from further east, as shown below.  The traffic is therefore passing southward, to the left, with the south bank on the left and the north on the right of the picture.  The overall position of the bridge can be seen in the adapted Google Earth view, which follows.


QEII Bridge, seen from the east, with the south bank on the left,  Traffic passing from right to left.
QEII Bridge, seen from the east, with the south bank on the left, Traffic passing from right to left.
View of the QEII Bridge and the approaches to Tilbury. Google Earth, adapted and annotated by author
View of the QEII Bridge and the approaches to Tilbury.
Google Earth, adapted and annotated by author

After Tilbury docks, Waverley passed Tilbury Fort, skulking behind its earthworks, and very difficiult to see (OS grid .  After the Dutch raided the Medway in 1667, King Charles II ordered a fort built here to defend London.  It was designed  on the latest lines, following the schemes of the great French military Engineer Sebastian le Prestre de Vauban.  It was built by a Dutchman, Sir Bernard de Gomme, and its fearful pentagonal geometry incororated the latest ideas in 17th century fortification.  Originally the fort, designed to withstand a serious assult from the landward side, was combined with batteries along the northern shore of the river, as shown in the artist’s impression of it in the eighteenth century, below.

Tilbury  Fort as it would have looked in the 18th century (Alan Sorrell) http://www.englishheritageprints.com/tilbury_fort_j910014/print/674682.html
Tilbury Fort as it would have looked in the 18th century (Alan Sorrell)
Tilbury Fort today, with the high tide filling the moat http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/images/property-defaultimage/tibury_fort_lead_image.
Tilbury Fort today, with the high tide filling the moat

Beyond Tilbury Fort we rounded the bend in the river, heading north again into Lower Hope Reach.  The new Thames Gateway port, buyilt on the site of the former oil refinery at Shellhaven, which closed in 1999, came into view. As you can see from the air view, the new  port is vast.  Its shape is quite distinctive, and it is easy to reconcile the artist’s impression of the completed port with the air view.

London Gateway. Google Earth, adapted and annotated by author
London Gateway.
Google Earth, adapted and annotated by author
Approaching London gateway from the west.
Approaching London gateway from the west.

The Waverley moved close in to the north bank to give us a good view.  As we slipped past huge excavations were still underway. The technique used to construct the quay wall which will also support the tracks which carry the huge cranes is not  new but has not been much used in the UK previously. The shoreline was build out extensively, so that the quay wall could be installed below ‘dry land’ The fill behind the quay wall then becomes the fill under the quayside areas.

The start (west end) of the London Gateway  quay wall
The start (west end) of the London Gateway quay wall

The two lines of quay wall also double as the support for the enormous quayside container cranes so the capping beams have the necessary rails and infrastructure cast into them. Once the quay wall, anchor wall and tie bars are complete, the fill in front of the quay wall is dredged out leaving the quayside complete.  The cranes run on tracks that are 35 metres (115 feet!) apart, giving an idea of their enormous size.  The first phase of the quayside wall in 1,250 metres long.

First, fill it in… http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://constructionetc.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/quay-wall.jpg&imgrefurl=http://constructionetc.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/ice-essex-works-visit-london-gateway-port/&h=675&w=919&sz=59&tbnid=twKnRANsYhVwPM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=169&zoom=1&usg=__qVlbW1yIHBmhzycpr8zFUXJSvN8=&docid=JjFnTdjdYGr4yM&sa=X&ei=32NVUomBC6K-0QXY0YCADw&ved=0CDEQ9QEwAQ
First, fill it in…
Then, dig it out… As above, adapted by author.
Then, dig it out…
As above, adapted by author.

One ship was already moored at the port, although it does not formally open until November. And two weeks before, on 16 September, it was reported that THE 10,062-TEU Zim Rotterdam, had diverted from Felixstowe to DP World’s London Gateway port for repairs after a fire aboard had consumed 20 containers. Industry sources said Felixstowe would not accept Zim Rotterdam because the vessel would tie up berthing space for a prolonged period, but Felixstowe officials were not available for comment. Instead, it was offered a haven at  London Gateway, which will not open until later this year.  As a result of an unplanned delay, London Gateway port agreed to accommodate the vessel at short notice. Three weeks before, ago, the master had reported a fire in 20 of its containers while en route from Malaysia to Djibouti.  The AIS vessel monitoring system showed that Zim Rotterdam was located off Cherbourg when the new London Gateway destination was determined.

As we passed the new mega-port the size of the cranes on their 35-metre wide track could easily be appreciated.

London Gateway, 29 September 2013
London Gateway, 29 September 2013

London Gateway comprises a large new deep-water port, which will be able to handle the biggest container ships, as well as one of Europe’s largest logistics parks, providing effective access (by road and railways) to London and the rest of mainland UK.  The complex will make use of modern technology to increase productivity and reduce costs for shipping lines and the logistics industries. It will significantly increase the ability of the Port of London   to handle modern container shipping, and help meet the growing demand for container handling at Britain’s ports.

The Red Ensign flies over London Gateway, which will make the Port of London a world-leading terminal for container shipping
The Red Ensign flies over London Gateway, which will make the Port of London a world-leading terminal for container shipping

DP World, a Dubai-based company,  received Government approval in May 2007 for the development of London Gateway. The proposals were identified by former prime Minister Gordon Brown  as one of the four economic hubs essential for the regeneration of the Thames Gateway.  The 2007-10 financial crisis created problems for DP World’s owners Dubai World.   However, in January 2010, DP World was given the go-ahead for construction of the port

London Gateway port will include a 2,700-metre-long container quay, with a fully developed capacity of 3.5 million TEU a year.  It is close to  the major shipping lanes serving north west Europe and will increase national deep-sea port capacity for the UK.  At present, the ports of Felixstowe and Southampton are  the first- and second-largest ports by container traffic in the UK, respectively, with the Port of London third.  There are a number of other smaller container terminals nearby, but the development will dramatically increase the capabilities of the Port of London in handling modern container shipping.    DP World has said that high-quality architecture, sustainability, and high levels of security and management will be key features of the park and will create an attractive environment for occupiers

DP World is planning to invest over £1.5bn to develop the project over a ten to 15-  year development period. It says (well, it would, wouldn’t it?) that London Gateway will deliver about 12,000 new direct jobs, benefit the local and regional economy, and assist the government’s regeneration initiative. In addition, there will be over 30,000 indirect and induced jobs.

Our intelligence mission complete, and by this time very windblown, we repaired below.  The Waverley served an excellent Sunday roast, and  the stability of the ship was noticeable as  she ploughed through a very choppy Thames Estuary towards Southend.  Some of the passengers disembarked there, but the Captain warned that he could not guarantee to get back at 17.00 hrs to pick them up.  At sea, no plan always survives contact with the elements.  We then headed  south, into the estuary of the Medway.

Google Earth, adapted and annotated by the author
Google Earth, adapted and annotated by the author

I was still below when we passed by the wreck of the Richard Montgomery,  a US Liberty ship that had gone down in 1944 with several thousand tonnes of ordnance on board. On 20 August 1944, it dragged anchor and ran aground on a sandbank around 250 metres from the Medway approach Channel, in a depth of 24 feet (7.3 m) of water. Liberty ships of this type – ‘general dry cargo’ –  had an average draught of 28 ft (8.5 m).  However,  the Montgomery was trimmed to a draught of 31 ft (9.4 m). As the tide went down, the ship broke its back on sand banks near the Isle of Sheppey 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Sheerness and 5 miles (8 km) from Southend. The salvage operation  began on 23 August 1944, using the ship’s own cargo handling equipment. But the next day the ship’s hull had cracked open, causing the bow end to flood. Attemp[ts to salvage the lethal cargo continued until 25 September, when the ship was finally abandoned. Subsequently, the ship broke into two separate parts, roughly in the middle.  Some 1500 ‘short tons’ (the standard US measure for weight of  ordnance), or 1400 tonnes, were left on board.

The Richard Montgomery is a potential hazard to developments in the Thames Estuary.  The map below shows the position of the wreck vis-à-vis some planned developments – the various estuary airports beloved of, among others, London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Map showing position of the Richard Montgomery wreck and suggested airport developments:  1. Cliffe; 2. Grain (Thames Hub); 3. Foulness; 4. Off the Isle of Sheppey; 5. Shivering Sands (‘Boris Island’).
Map showing position of the Richard Montgomery wreck and suggested airport developments: 1. Cliffe; 2. Grain (Thames Hub); 3. Foulness; 4. Off the Isle of Sheppey; 5. Shivering Sands (‘Boris Island’).

In 1970 the BBC reported that the 1500 short tons – 1.5 kilotons – of explosives could, if detonated produce a 3,000-metre high column of water and a five metre tidal wave that would engulf Sheerness (population then 20,000).  By 2012 estimates of its possible effect were less sensational, but a one metre tidal wave might still result.  However, in 1998 The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) had said that as the fuzes would probably have been flooded for many years and the sensitive compounds were all soluble in water,‘ this is no longer considered to be a significant hazard.’

At least the wreck is clearly visible.  Given the weather conditions, Waverley did not pass very far down the Medway, just past the Swale, the stretch of water which separates the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland.  She got as s far as  Saltpan reach, south of the jetties and power station in OS grid square  8674, before turning round.

On the way back the Waverley passed east of the wreck site, before turning west.  The Richard Montgomery’s three masts are clearly visible.

Passing the Richard Montgomery, with Southend visible behind
Passing the Richard Montgomery, with Southend visible behind

The light was now beginning to fade and we repaired below for a while longer.  The Waverley did make it back to Southend, picked up some passengers, and then  headed back into London.  As darkness fell around 19.00 we headed back on deck and  the lights came on.  The imaginative use of lighting can utterly transform a landscape.  The Thames Barrier and to O2 were cleverly illuminated.  Beyond the O2, from the Royal Observatory, the Greenwich Meridian, the centre of the world, dividing east from west, was marked by a green laser pointing slightly upwards into the sky.  Unfortunately it would have needed a long exposure to capture this beam of light, and I missed the shot.  But an idea of the effects can be obtained from the kaleidoscope of colour bathing the O2, below.

O2, or alien spacecraft?
O2, or alien spacecraft?

The Waverley passed on, under Tower Bridge, and docked at 20.45.  It was a great day, and a marvellous opportunity to behold  London’s new great port.

I could not help wondering what would really happen if what remained of the Richard Montgomery’s cargo were detonated all in one go.  I am sure that Maybe a future Mayor of London, inaugurating an estuarine airport, might have the opportunity to find out.  Mind you, I am puzzled by the need to build vast concrete runways.  Why do we not go back to sea planes and flying boats, which could land and take off in this vast area with far less infrastructure investment.  And bring back more civilised travel into the bargain. But a future Mayor might still want to press the button, just for fun.

Hey!  That gives me an idea…

Chris Bellamy



Unless otherwise stated, all photographs by the author.
























Programme of Free Evening Seminars in Maritime Policy, Security and History

Greenwich Maritime Institute holds a range of events, seminars and conferences including the popular Public Research Seminar Series which are held in Greenwich at monthly intervals.

Experts are invited to give a presentation on areas that relate to the three broad themes that the GMI specialises in: Maritime History, Maritime Policy and Maritime Security. Presentations are then followed by questions from the audience. Anyone is welcome to attend these free seminars although advance booking is required via Eventbrite.co.uk.

This year we are pleased to announce a variety of topics such as:

  • Licensing Private Maritime Security Companies
  • Navy, Identity & Leisure in 20th Century Britain
  • Loss of the RB Angus
  • 1412 – The Year China Discovered the World
  • Designing New Vessels for 21st Century Tidal Thames
  • Human Rights Considerations in the Maritime Industry
  • China’s Ship Recycling


GMI Research Seminar Series 2013-14 – Download the brochure in PDF format

China’s Maritime Growth and Global Sustainability

In the early part of the 21st Century, the global community has gained enormous advantages from the expansion of China’s trade and maritime activities. Numerous countries have greatly benefited from China’s much closer integration into the world economy and maritime scene. Yet the huge demand for foreign resources, to assist China in maintaining its robust economic growth, has focused attention upon sustainability aspects, specifically the challenges and opportunities.

Many questions arise in a sustainability context. How are China’s shipping and trade evolving, and what is the impact? What are the social and human implications for China as a major supplier of maritime labour to the world market? How are environmental issues being handled in China, for instance those involving marine protected areas, ship recycling and maritime pollution? These elements have global as well as national impacts and ramifications.

A forthcoming Greenwich Maritime Institute (University of Greenwich) conference arranged by the GMI’s China Maritime Centre, on 10th September 2013 within the London International Shipping Week, will examine a wide range of topics. The conference is entitled ‘China’s Growth as a Maritime Power: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Sustainability’. Speakers from industry and academia have been invited to present their ideas. A prominent feature is new knowledge gained from cutting-edge academic research projects on China’s maritime issues, making the conference particularly informative. Discussion and debate will follow.

The Greenwich conference framework for China topics is maritime business and economics, social and human issues, and environmental aspects. The title echoes the theme adopted by the International Maritime Organization for World Maritime Day 2013. A theme of ‘Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20’ was adopted for that occasion. In his speech to launch the theme, the IMO secretary-general clarified a crucial point. What does sustainable development actually mean? Reference was made to an earlier UN report where a clear definition was given: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This event at Greenwich takes place, arguably, at a significant juncture. The Chinese economy appears to have reached a transitional period, between near or actual double-digit GDP growth rates until relatively recently, and a ‘more sustainable’ era of rather less rapid but still vigorous expansion. Maritime activities and their sustainability will be affected by the changing pace.

China’s role as a major player and, in some maritime activities, the largest and dominant player inevitably places its global involvement and implications under a spotlight. A few achievements are particularly noteworthy. China has become the leading influence shaping world seaborne trade and is by far the largest importer of dry bulk commodities. The merchant ship fleet controlled by Chinese companies is now one of the biggest. As well as being the largest shipbuilding country (by deadweight volume and contract value), China is a major ship recycler. It is also a prominent supplier of maritime labour to the global market. Much or most of these gains have been made within the past decade, a relatively short period for such a performance. The combined impact is hard to exaggerate.

As a result of this large-scale activity, steps which China is taking to tackle sustainability issues are viewed with great interest by the international community. On many maritime and related issues, it is noticeable that significant advances to correct any deficiencies are being made, and signs of likely further progress over the years ahead are visible.

Richard Scott
GMI visiting lecturer and MD, Bulk Shipping Analysis

Michael Everard CBE Receives Honorary Doctorate from University of Greenwich

We are pleased to announce that Michael Everard CBE, a senior figure in the UK and international shipping communities, received an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration from the University of Greenwich on Wednesday 24 July 2013.

Within his career Michael served as Chairman of F.T.Everard & Sons between 1988 and 2006, a family firm which during the twentieth century became leading owners of coastal vessels and small short-sea tankers. It was unique in remaining in private ownership and management for over a century. At the time of the company’s sale to James Fisher plc, in 2006, it owned eleven tankers.

Michael has also served as President of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers; as Chairman of the UK Chamber of Shipping; as Vice-Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping; and as Vice-Chairman of Council and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Mission to Seafarers.

Michael has been actively involved with the University of Greenwich through his membership of the Greenwich Maritime Institute Advisory Committee, where he acts as a ‘critical friend’, providing advice and assistance and facilitating industry contacts. He also sits on the Greenwich Forum an independent body established in 1973 formed to promote Britain’s awareness of the sea which is administered by the Greenwich Maritime Institute.

Alev Adil, the University’s Orator, says: “Michael Everard has always set the highest industry standards in terms of safety, quality and innovation in the shipping business. Today we’re celebrating his long and distinguished career and his involvement with the Greenwich Maritime Institute, where he regularly shares his extensive knowledge of shipping policy issues with our postgraduate students.”

Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals of distinction who have made a major contribution to the work of the university, or who have earned prominence for activities associated more widely with education, business, culture, creative work and public service and the Greenwich Maritime Institute are delighted that Michael was able to accept this prestigious award last week.

Michael Everard Pic