Robert Hampton

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27th May 2013

Atlantic Fantastic
Posted by at 11.49pm | No responses | Liverpool

Ship Tied UpBlogging has been rather light this past month, for which I apologise. I have been studying an Open University maths module which draws to a close on 3rd June with the final exam. Studying for that, and finishing my final assignment, has taken up most of my time. Hopefully, this time next week I will be free to spout nonsense as usual.

I did make time yesterday afternoon, however, to go into Liverpool city centre for the Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary commemorations. The Battle of the Atlantic was crucial to the Allies during the Second World War, as Merchant Navy ships carrying essential supplies attempted to outmanoeuvre the German U-Boats which were determined to sink them. Liverpool was very much at the forefront of the campaign – the city’s docks handled much of the cargo, and the command centre responsible for co-ordinating the shipping movements was located in an underground bunker just round the corner from Liverpool Town Hall. It suffered for its strategic importance, being bombed more heavily than any British city outside London.

It has been agreed by all concerned that the 70th anniversary will be the last large-scale commemoration, and tens of thousands of visitors poured into Liverpool over the bank holiday weekend to see the events, which included visiting ships from the countries involved, military displays on the waterfront and a service of remembrance at Liverpool Cathedral.

I arrived at the Albert Dock on Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, which had certainly brought out the crowds. Even getting around the dock was slow, due to the sheer number of people.

Crowds at the Albert Dock

Finding a good vantage point proved difficult, but here’s what I managed to see of the Lynx helicopter demonstration:

Lynx Helicopter Demo

The Merseyside Maritime Museum’s preserved steam tug, Brocklebank, was also out and about on the Mersey:

Brocklebank tug

It was clear that getting on board any of the ships would be problematic, with big queues for all of them. So I settled for observing most of them from a distance. I wandered over to the Cruise Liner Terminal, where I found Russian destroyer, the Kulakov, looking very intimidating even festooned in flags.


Back at the Albert Dock, German minesweeper Grömitz was tied up. I wanted to look around at least one ship, and the queue didn’t look too terrible, so I joined it for a brief tour.

Grömitz tied up in Albert Dock

I should probably inform you now (if you weren’t already aware) that I am not a great expert on matters of shipping. My knowledge of naval terms doesn’t extend much beyond phrases like “seamen” and “poop deck”. I couldn’t tell you which side is port and which is starboard. So you will have to enjoy these pictures from the deck of Grömitz and work out for yourself what they are. I also hope I’m not breaching any military secrets by posting these (although the ship’s crew were dotted around and seemed perfectly happy with photos being taken).

It was a great atmosphere and everyone seemed to be having a great time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Liverpool has become really good at doing these big events. I’m not particularly interested in military history, but World War II – a truly just battle against tyranny and fascism – is worth commemorating and remembering, as the numerous memorials dotted around the Pier Head demonstrate.

Polish Navy memorial plague

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