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TS Queen Mary on tow out of London on 9th November 2009 undertaken by the tug Aicirtron assisted by Unico and Horton.

Numerous photographers came to the Thames riverbank to record Queen Mary's departure from the berth at the Embankment - where she had been since late 1988


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Fortunately, Queen Mary's tow attracted the interest of many photographers so an excellent record of the day is available on this website.

Many thanks to those who made their photo series available for use on this website :

Click on the links below to see the full set of photographs by each contributor

John Jones
Ben Mason

John May
Ben Mann
Michael Anderson
Mike Jackson
Nigel Dobinson 
Phil English

Scroll down for report of the procedure by the Port of London Authority Bridge Pilot John Reid


THE VIEW FROM THE SHIP'S BRIDGE

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Richard Lane of Capital Marine Services, the handling agent for the tow and the parent company of Capital Boats which negotiated the sale on behalf of Mitchells & Butlers was aboard Queen Mary and took this photo as she prepared to pass through Tower Bridge.

Richard also captured some of London's other landmarks as Queen Mary passed downstream - and by late afternoon entered Tilbury dock. See Photos

Many thanks to Richard and Capital Marine Services for allowing us to use his photos on this website.

THE PILOT'S VIEW : REPORT BY PORT OF LONDON BRIDGE PILOT JOHN REID


John Reid was the Port of London Authority bridge pilot who conducted the tow with his colleague John Freestone and the tug Aicirtron (skippered by Ron Livett) assisted by Horton and Unico (skippered by Allan and Paul Gotham). The report illustrates the difficulties encountered in getting such a large vessel under the London bridges at or as close as possible to low tide. It took a magnificent show of skill and teamwork between skipper and crews on the tug and pilots to ensure that Queen Mary arrived safely under the bridges and even through potential problems entering Tilbury dock. Many thanks to John for this detailed report of what happened.

The airdraft ended up at 10.6 metres, and was critical factor. Aicirtron (forrard tug) was the draft restriction at just over 3 metres. When planning the job, we knew that there would not be enough water at Waterloo shoal to leave at Low water or soon after. We would then be too late to get the air draft clearance at Blackfriars and above all Cannon St / Southwark - or it would have been too tight.!!!

My plan was to leave (as we did) on the ebb about 0930, back down giving us UKC over Waterloo shoal, and about 1m airdraft at Waterloo bridge. We would then stem the tide where there was more water at the "President", swinging on the slack. There is shallow water in the bridge arches at Blackfriars, and I wanted 1.3 m on tower tide to move through the centre of the bridge

Tugs Unico and Horton were strapped on on each quarter to "drive " the vessel like a twin screw vessel.
All went according to plan, except that the tide cut nearly 40 centimetres below prediction. Low water at Tower Bridge was about 1220 that day, with 1.1 on tide. At 1300 we actually had .75 at tower, and "Aicirtron" was touching bottom for about 40 mins across low water. In fact using the Horton and Unico with alternative stern movements we kept her in position very well in spite of Aicirtron falling across the last of the ebb a couple of times.

We therefore swung late, with 1.1 on tide, and those watching will have noted Aicirtron getting caught up on QM's anchor with the towrope. I was concerned at using forrard tug and getting her aground during swing- potentially disastrous. In fact I turned her using astern and ahead on aft tugs.

By the time we swung we had 1.3 on tide and moved off very soon after swing. In fact we made it through Tower Bridge about 1405. We did have a bridge lift for 1415, and got a half lift (though it was not necessary). Tower Bridge air draft on CD is 15.3, Cannon Street / Southwark 14.1 /14, so clear of the latter, means clear of London Bridge and Tower Bridge. There is a shoal area just below London Bridge, 1.8 the old LB workings, so we needed 1.8 on tide, giving about 40 cm UKC

The next problem was to try to get into Tilbury before the ebb came away. Ebb tide into the dock can mean landing on lower arm. QM still had her "gangway" attached on starboard side. An ebb tide would therefore have meant a stern first approach, so landing if at all on port side. In fact High Water at Tilbury was about 1740, and that’s when we made it into the lock for a normal approach. She is now all fast at the cold store berth 37 / 38 berth..This was a very smooth job,

Footnote : Ron Livett was also the skipper of the tug "Warrior" which delivered Queen Mary to her berth in London on 29th July 1988


Richard Lane of Capital Marine Services, the handling agent for the tow and the parent company of Capital Boats which negotiated the sale on behalf of Mitchells & Butlers was aboard Queen Mary and took this photo as she prepared to pass through Tower Bridge.

Richard also captured some of London's other landmarks as Queen Mary passed downstream - and by late afternoon entered Tilbury dock.
See Photos

Many thanks to Richard and Capital Marine Services for allowing us to use his photos on this website.

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Pilots keeping a watchful eye over proceedings (above) and help free the snagged tow-rope from QM's anchor (above)
Photos by Ben Mann

TOW VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

M. Franck Robert  advised me that his video taken of Queen Mary passing through Tower Bridge and onwards towards Tilbury is  available on YouTube. M Robert took his film from the north bank just upstream of Tower Bridge, then passed the steamer aboard a Thames Clipper. M Robert has also added a brief history of the vessel in French and mixed in a musical background. Many thanks M. Robert for this magnificent record.
Here is the link :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXgVWbFSHcg 


AS REPORTED IN THE MEDIA :


Pictures from the BBC Website : http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/london/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8350000/8350164.stm
Video report broadcast on BBC London regional news on 9th November : http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/london/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8346000/8346835.stm


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