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Posted on Jul 16, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

International Festival of the Sea 2005

Armchair General


The highlight of the show was of course the large number of military vessels on display at the Festival, almost all of which could be boarded for "inspection" (although I observed crewmembers of a French vessel refusing access to those who had cameras with them).

Since the entire base had been set aside for the Festival, many ships based at Portsmouth for rest, refit or repair had, where possible, been moved out of their docking basins and could be seen at the other end of the harbour in nearby Fareham creek.

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Sitting outside of the base, this large auxiliary vessel was anchored on the Gosport side of the harbour. She’s the PNS Moawin (A20) from Pakistan with a displacement of 16,000 tonnes. Since she’s merely an auxiliary, her weapons are restricted to two 20mm close range guns, but she does also have hangar facilities for up to three helicopters. The next picture again shows the ship I was stood in front of holding my copy of ACG. Look at those sharp angular lines – I thought this vessel looked lovely. She’s the Esbern Snare (L17) from Denmark and very mean-looking.


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From Latvia, the Versaitis (A53) is a Vidar Class coastal minelayer used as a staff and support ship. Originally built in Norway in 1978, she was transferred to the Latvian Navy in 2003. The next picture shows four vessels, the most interesting of which is HMS Endurance (A171) to the extreme right. HMS Endurance was the ship used by Her Majesty during the Fleet review, but she is more commonly tasked with acting as a survey vessel in Antarctic waters.

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One ship that constantly caught my eye was the brooding, almost black, form of the Destroyer Admiral Levchenko (605). Maybe it was because I had never seen a Russian ship up close before that I kept taking so many pictures of it!

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A seems to be the case with most Russian Naval vessels, she was bristling with weapons of all types.

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Here’s the Eithne (P31) from Ireland.

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The Hydra (F452) from Greece was in attendance with her quad Harpoon missile launchers and in the next picture – we have a Royal Navy ship that managed to keep a place in the dockyard! Having said this, HMS Marlborough (F233) was apparently due to be decommissioned imminently, despite being one of the most modern ships in the fleet. I’ll make no comment there and move on…

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1 Comment

  1. The uniforms were all made by Keith Levett, livery tailor of Savile Row, who is standing the other side of Captain Hardy, and portraying Captain Thomas Troubridge, and beyond he, and also in your second photo, Captain James de Saumarez!
    Wonderful to see those photos.
    Yours aye,
    Alex Naylor (aka Nelson!) Keith also made the Full Dress uniform which is now on board HMS Victory and also the undress one in the Nelson Museum in Monmouth. They are precise replicas of the originals.