Busy times in Portsmouth Naval Base

HMS Gloucester (D96) photographed leaving Port...

HMS Gloucester (Image via Wikipedia)

It’s a busy time coming up for naval movements in Portsmouth.

All sources suggest that the American Aircraft Carrier USS George HW Bush WILL be visiting Portsmouth next weekend. She will be accompanied by the Arleigh Burke class Destroyer USS Truxtun and the Spanish Alvaro de Bazan class Frigate Almirante Juan de Borbon. the Spanish Frigate has been in the US with the Bush Strike Group for the past few months taking part in work-up exercises. I’m enquiring with tour boat companies to see if any offer trips out into the Solent to look round the Bush, although I might not be able to make it due to a moving girlfriend that weekend!…. If not I’m sure I’ll get some pics from the shore at Stokes Bay. The shops and bars in Portsmouth will be rubbing their hands waiting for 6,000+ thirsty and hungry yanks!

In other news, on Monday HMS Gloucester makes her final entry into Portsmouth before decomissioning later this year. The Type 42 Batch 3 Destroyer has served with the Royal Navy for over 20 years. My Grandad actually worked on her when she was built, when he was a painter at Vosper Thorneycroft‘s yard in Woolston. We looked round her at Navy Days a few years ago, and I can confirm that he didn’t miss any bits 😉

HMS Quorn left Portsmouth last Sunday for a 2+ years stint in the Gulf. Royal Navy minesweepers spend a few years at a time in the Gulf, saving on time travelling there and back. The crews rotate for 6 months at a time. Quorn is a Hunt Class minesweeper, with a GRP – glass reinforced plastic – hull.

In amongst all of the Royal Navy ships decommisioning, the RFA’s going out of service have been all but forgotten. But the Landing Ship Largs Bay left Portsmouth weeks prior to a refit before making her way to the Australian Navy. RFA Bayleaf has been dumped into 3 Basin pending scrapping, and RAF Fort Austin – a Falklands veteran – looks to be on her way to the scrapyard. A smaller Navy means a smaller RFA.

In other scrapping matters, Exeter, Nottingham and Southampton are in the trot of Fareham Creek awaiting the scrapyard, and Manchester and Gloucester are soon to replace them. The four Type 22 Frigates recently decomissioned will probably make their way to Portsmouth soon too.

And we’re expecting PolarBjorn – the new HMS Protector – to arrive in Portsmouth sometime in the early summer too.

All in all a busy period. I’ll try and get out with my camera as much as I can. And one of the bonuses of having a girlfriend from the West Country is that a few trips to Plymouth might be in order 😉



Filed under Navy, News, out and about

39 responses to “Busy times in Portsmouth Naval Base

  1. John Erickson

    There’s one more DDG and two CGs with the Bush, so keep your eyes peeled – they gotta dock somewhere! (Not for you, James, more for your faithful readers.)
    I did get a full list of “assets” involved in the South American Operation UNITAS, if anybody’s interested. Straight from the … horse’s? … mouth (the USN itself). Amazingly, they wrote back to my Email. Sometimes miracles DO happen! 😀

  2. James Daly

    They could be calling in at Plymouth, but then again the USN doesn’t tend to stop over there for some reason. Perhaps because its often got its hands full with FOST ships?

    I must try and find out more about Ex Saxon Warrior. I’ve seen pics on flickr of US Navy jets screaming around Snowdonia! According to reports there are French, Spanish and other units involved. There have been Dutch, German and Swedish ships in Guz over the past week or so, could be a clue…

  3. James Daly


    Appears that Fort Austin is off to Birkenhead for a refit, not the scrapyard. Bizarre when you consider that shes over 30 years old, yet one of the Fort Victoria class is being retired at less than 20 years of age…

    (RAF Assocation Newsletter is pretty interesting too by the way)

  4. It is very odd, as FORT GEORGE (getting the axe) is not only newer but potentially more useful – with the dual ability to provide fuel as well as dry stores, and a better aviation capability…

    • James Daly

      I would have thought that Austin would have gone, as she has been laid up in 3 Basin for a few years and presumably needs an extensive refit. And the trend in recent years has been to axe whatever is due for an extensive refit, rather than shell out. Hence why Grafton, the newest T23, was sold off after less than 10 years service.

  5. Cynthia Adkins

    I wanted to let you know that as a US Navy Mom. It’s a double edged sword you have provided. It is nice to learn where my son is now and what he is doing but not much of a secret when you post it for all to read…Please be a little more cautious about printing schedules and locations. Please?

    • James Daly

      Hi Cynthia. I certainly appreciate operational security, Portsmouth is a naval base just like Norfolk and I have had relatives in the military. The visit has been publicised in the local media in recent days, and the US Navy now has too. I have seen shipping sites that have published specific locations for where ships are (ie GPS co-ordinates), but I don’t think any of us need to know that. If I hear about a visit and it isn’t already well-known I definitely do not publicise it.

      • Cynthia Adkins

        Thanks James – its just I found out more on your site than my son said he was allowed to tell me so I became a little worried. but then that is what mom’s do even when they are over 25… 🙂

        • James Daly

          No problem Cynthia, my mum is the same! It is a strange situation with the US Military, I gather operational security is drummed into everyone yet a lot of information has a way of getting out anyway. When she has gone I will post up some pics and links to coverage in the local media if you are interested.


          • Cynthia Adkins

            Most definetly! Thanks James and if you get a tour of the ship make sure you get to see as much of the operational rooms they allow. Very cool.

            • James Daly

              They won’t let anyone onto the ship, in fact she won’t actually fit into Portsmouth Harbour so she will be anchored a mile off Portsmouth. I am hoping to take a boat trip out, but there is a pretty big exclusion zone around her so not sure how much I’ll get to see!

  6. John Erickson

    Cynthia, if you are interested, there are some online sites for the USS Bush. http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/ is the USN official site. There is also a Facebook page for the carrier, though you probably know about that one. You can also check http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/where.htm
    This site lists where the carriers are at any time. Not in real time, for security reasons, of course. And this site pulls info from the Navy, so no worries about it being unofficial or not secure.
    Hope these help you! 🙂

  7. John Erickson

    Sorry, James, USN has announced USS Anzio transiting Gibraltar. So you’re short one CG. ‘Course, doesn’t that mean that the GHW Bush Battle Group is still more powerful than the current RN? 😉
    (Sorry, guys, I just HAD to take that shot. I apologise. Friends again? :D)

  8. John Erickson

    Also, from the USN Daily Email: “The guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and USS Truxtun (DDG 103) participated in a strait transit exercise with ships from the British and Spanish navies, May 21. The exercise is designed to test the ability of a group of ships to maneuver through a narrow body of water. “The purpose of this exercise is to practice bringing coalition ships together to transit restrictive waters, defend the force and be able to clearly communicate with whatever other traffic is out there, whether they be merchant vessels, small craft or combatants,” said Cmdr. Brian Sorenson, Mitscher’s commanding officer. British destroyer HMS Gloucester (D96) and British frigate HMS Westminster (F237) played the part of potentially hostile vessels, also transiting the strait.”
    The RN is playing nicely with our boys. Thank you. 😉

  9. Cynthia Adkins

    I would like to apologize to all of the UK for the actions our US President has shown your countries as of late. As a great man once said (editing slightly) “Please forgive him for he knows not what he does.” All I can say is that I never voted for him but I will apologize for his lack of knowledge in customs and etiquette. As they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.”

    • John Erickson

      No worries, Cynthia. As the token Yank here, they’ve gotten used to the idiocies … er … idiosyncrasies of the current Administration. Don’t worry, these guys won’t hold it against us! 🙂

      • James Daly

        The funny thing is, in the UK Obama is the most popular US President in my lifetime.

        I’m not sure what Obama is supposed to have done? According to royal insiders he and the First Lady have a genuinely warm relationship with the Queen and the Duke.

        Dubya really was not liked over here. He came across to most people as a narrow-minded redneck, he didn’t show much intelligence or much of a regard for the rest of the world in general.

        The only anxiety people may have about Obama is the way in which he seems to show more interest in emerging countries rather than traditional allies, but this week has probably gone a long way to assuaging that.

        But then again, I’m sure many Americans will find it hard to understand just how disliked Tony Blair is in this country. Never did a PM promise so much but deliver so little…

        • John Erickson

          Some of the US press have shown a number of “bonehead” moments of Obama during his tour. He’s a bit too “touchy-feely” for us old farts who hold the Queen in high regard, and his public speaking style drives me nuts! MEMORISE SOMETHING! Enough with the cue cards and teleprompters!
          OK, I’m better now. 😀 And there’s lots of similar stupidity in our Defence Dept. as you folk are seeing in the MOD. Typical politicians who don’t know diddly making decisions for the war fighters. Then again, “Dubya” made some silly decisions regarding appropriations as well. Guess we “hawks” will never be happy with the politicians, eh? 😉

  10. Cynthia Adkins

    Thank you all for being understanding. Soemtiems it is hard to truely judge a person and their actions when the media is manipulating what we hear and see. Truth has no agenda, but lies and manipulation do. Funny I thought you all liked Tony Blair.
    Well back to the main topic I understand the boys and girls are taking liberty enjoying a brew at the local pub and seeing the sites. I hope they behave themselves and you all enjoy their visit. If they get out of hand tell ’em you’ll tell their mum! ha ha ha.

    • James Daly

      They are indeed Cynthia, I went out at lunch time and Portsmouth is alive with Americans! Most of the pubs have ordered in extra beer, one of the big bars has doubled its usual order of beer and decorated all over with the stars and stripes!

  11. cynthia I agree with you in 1966 I spent 9 mos in portsmouth navel hospital loose lips sink ships thats what I was taught

    • James Daly

      Isure understand the concern with operational security, ie not wanting un-necessary harm to come to anyone. But we live in a very different world nowadays – with mass media and the internet it only takes a few minutes to find out where a ship is. Take QHM shipping movements for example – even if they didn’t publicise the names of ships, you can easily see them from the Round Tower, and within 5 minutes there are pictures online.

      No matter the rights or wrongs of that, its how the world is, and we do live in a very different world. Navies should really hone their PR machines a bit better and embrace it, its something the RN is guilty of, in the face of slick RAF publicity (read creativity with the truth).

  12. Ahhhh PR. We do live in an odd age, don’t we?

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