The Fleet visits the River Thames en-masse

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During my naval career I was fortunate to belong to a navy which enjoyed staging fleet reviews and regatta's and would show-off our ships and ships companies at hundreds of navy days, and port visit open to the public, mostly at home, but regularly while stationed at or visiting a foreign country/port.  At home, the events were hyped because more often than  not we were showing-off not only to civilians [chiefly] but to warship crews of different nations invited to share in one of our national events, who no doubt were snapping away with their cameras.

To be fair, the chief reasons for this is the loss of a high profile naval vessel namely the Royal Yacht Britannia, the reduction in warships, the almost total reduction in foreign ports and fleets, and perhaps the worst of all, the sheer workload on what remains of our seagoing navy, coupled with the morale level juxtaposed with ours, where the fun we had has all but left the navy today. The saying 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy' is never truer, although in this case, a fleet review is very hard work particularly for commissioned officers, warrant officers and senior ratings. Thus, some would argue that they have enough to do without being saddled with such extraneous activities. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the navy proper, and it too is disappointed for the demonstrative reduction in staging the theatrics necessary for a perfect fleet review.  Given half the chance, the admirals would be outlining materiel support necessary; the staff captains and commanders would be busy writing operation orders [OP ORDS]; the fleet captains and commanders would be busy with the interpretation for those plans, ready to be passed to the wardroom officers and warrant officers in ships detailed to exectute the final version of the Op Order.  All others provide the all important spit and polish and demonstrate the eager willingness to show the public that 'their sailors' are still endearing, warm-hearted, professionals and willing hosts. 

As I am lamenting the passing of these events, for example no comparable reviews for either the Queens Golden or Diamond Jubilees when compared with the wonderful spectacular fleet review for Her Silver Jubilee, I happened to comne across a story which few must be aware of. It took place many years ago, 106 years in fact, in 1909 involving at least 113 ship and submarines many of them large vessels.

The event?  The visit to the River Thames by the Home and Channel Fleets. It was a spectacular of unique proportions measured world wide and never since repeated unfortunately.

Read the story first, or go straight to the last page to see and count the ships and submarines berthed in various configuraions between the Houses of Parliament, east out to  beyond Southend  on the North Bank and Sheerness on the South bank of the Thames, and beyond there  into the Nore and hence into the start of the North sea, or as it was called in those days, 'The German Sea'. This list included the new Black Prince as well as the new Warrior {supplanting the first two original ironclads of those names} lost at Jutland. Just image taking a boat trip with all found [food and beverages] toilets etc from Westminster Pier, and return with music and commentary. What a wonderful vista/panorama!