Solent non shipping

Please post here things happening in the Solent area other than shipping.  It might be aviation, hovercrafts, weather, coastal construction projects, coastal wildlife, odd sightings, displays exhibitions events etc.  I’m sure someone will be interested in it.


  1. Last nights BBC South today had an interesting article about Fawley. The railway into Fawley refinery has just ceased taking traffic as the facilities are too old at the refinery. So fuel will only be delivered by sea in future. No other trains use the track to Fawley. No decision has been made about tne railway yet. Many of the old railway stations still exist although no passengers have used them for decades. Some would like to see the line brought back for passenger use but it is estimated that there would not be enough income. However part of the line also links to Marchwood which has recently been run by a new company.

  2. The two LARCS LIGHTER( AMPHIBIOUS RESUPPLY CARGO) they were close to the east side M275 Motorway into Portsmouth. They had been parked there for many years , on what used to be Harry Pounds scrap yard ,they were then moved by the Army in 2013 further east closer to Alexander Park . During last week the were broken up and loaded onto trucks and taken away for scrap the only things that are left are the wheels and tyres. They will be gone soon .The two LARCS became a landmark and could always be seen when entering Portsmouth. :sad:


    The LARC-LX was used to transport wheeled and tracked vehicles, including beach preparation equipment and general cargo from ship to shore or to supply points inland. It was also capable of transporting 40-foot shipping containers that could be landed from the LARC either by crane, straddle carriers or rollers. Because it was so big, it was the only amphibious vehicle in the U.S. Army service capable of landing on a beach through surf.

    As big as it was, the LARC-LX was carried as deck cargo on a commercial vessel or heavy lift ship to where it was needed overseas. The LARC is a welded steel-hulled amphibious cargo vehicle. It could carry up to 100 tons of cargo or 200 people, but a more typical load was 60 tons of cargo or 120 people.

    The vehicle was powered by four 265 hp GMC diesel engines positioned in the sides of the hull, each of which drove one wheel on land. Pairs of engines were coupled to drive each of the two 1.2 meter diameter propellers, which propelled the vehicles in the water. Its top speed was 20 mph on land or 7.5 mph when it was afloat.

    The operator drove from a small cab on the port (left side—for us land-lubbers) on the rear of the vehicle. Size wise, the LARC is more than 62 feet long. Its width is more than 26 feet and its height is 19 feet.

    The first LARC-type vehicle had its maiden voyage in 1952 in Washington State. The first action they saw was in 1967 when they were sent to Vietnam to support the 101st Airborne and the 1st Cav Div in 1968.

    The last amphibious LARC company in the U.S. Army was deactivated in 2001, so they had a service life of 49 years. I don’t know how many LARC’s were built but to my personal knowledge, only two remain, the one in Green Cove Springs and another in the Marshall Museum in Overloon, Netherlands. Army Cars of Holland had purchased several many years ago, so those may still exist in private hands.

    Earl Salmons, a retired USMC sergeant major who explained what happened to about 40 of the old war vehicles in Vietnam. When they were no longer needed, they were piloted out into the Pacific Ocean and sunk.

  3. SR.N4 “The Princess Anne” saved for the Nation. Aug 15, 2016 The Hovercraft Museum Trust is delighted to announce that they have been successful in securing the future of SRN4 “The Princess Anne”. They are also absolutely delighted to announce they will partially open the craft to the public at the Hovershow next weekend!!! They have worked very closely with the landlord, the Homes & Communities Agency to land an initial 3 year lease (at peppercorn rent).

  4. Whilst browsing Red Funnels’ fares tariffs recently, I was rather disappointed (but not altogether surprised) to note that during Cowes week, no reduced fares, eg, off peak day returns, family tickets etc. are being offered. This means that a day return on the ferry for two is £33.60 or on the Red Jet £48.20. A bit steep I think!! :sad:

      • I was born and bred in East Cowes. I loved the place in the past. Now when I get to the Island I look at the collapsed seafront and groan. But I supposse the town area does need regeneration. However the seafront has ruined it for me! I am over again for a week from tomorrow but will probably spend most time in West Cowes.

        • Well, I was born & bred in W. Cowes 70+ years ago & educated in E Cowes. Inevitably, both places have changed dramatically over the years, not necessarily for the better. One notices it more when living elsewhere & only returing to the Island occasionally. (I will be back in a couple of weeks). most of the changes seem to have been made to accomodate second home owners & visiting “sailors”. Cowes High Street on a cold Tuesday in February is an altogether different place than it is in the Summer. Most of the doors will be shut!!

  5. On Saturday 4 June 2016 the most spectacular event will take place at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, Hampshire when the establishment opens it gates for the annual Open Day. The Field Gun competition will feature crews from across the UK and as far afield as Gibraltar competing for the coveted Brickwoods Trophy. During the Open Day there will be attractions, entertainment and displays designed to capture the imagination of everyone from 8 to 80. Attractions will include the Tigers Motorcycle Display Team, plus extensive recruitment zone with interactive activities and much more.

  6. Re helicopter G-OLCP, it is a twin squirrel operated by GB helicopters; In recent days, it has operating out of Farnborough, and Brighton Airport,( Shoreham to you and me)!. not sure about the surveying gear, but it has been filming the America’s cup trials, which are based in Portsmouth.
    Coincidence or not, Sir Ben flew into Bembridge on Sunday, all be it, in a fixed wing aircraft.

  7. Helicopter G-OLCP seen here a couple of days ago. It has been flying along the coast – and possibly elsewhere – with a large survey pod underneath. Does any aircraft geek out there know what it was doing??

    • I watched it pass through Romsey, where there were large crowds waiting in the pouring rain.

      As a steam train aficionado, I do wonder that with a massive load and a diesel on the rear, whether this service was “really” steam hauled. In old steam days, the load was rarely more than 7 or 8 coaches, but these current excursions regularly load up to 10 fully occupied cars, plus a service coach.

      I only like to ride on trips were there is a steam engine on the front and a tail light on the last coach.

  8. Plans to fully reopen South Parade Pier have taken a step forward after a court ruling. Magistrates yesterday lifted an order banning the public from going on to part of the structure after hearing sufficient remedial works had been carried out to the floor.

    • Definately a strange day yesterday. I came down at 4 pm from Newbury to Southampton. Dry but had been wet at Newbury, torrential rain at Winchester, bone dry at Southampton! And VTS doing its fog procedures where all the Portsmouth ferries have to use VTS as well as the normal stuff.

      • Pluto was not one but two pipelines. The first smaller , first one was Bambi from the IOW (Reading , Hamble, IOW) to Cherbourg and the larger one, Dumbo from Dungeness to Boulogne (fueled by Isle of Grain) in Kent.

      • I’m not too au fait with the IOW but a pump-station was built at Whippance Farm on the Isle of Wight and the pipeline was laid across it from Thorness to a camouflaged 2,250 ton capacity tank built in woodland on high ground overlooking Shanklin. Gravity fed drop down lines then ran to pump-stations at Shanklin and at Sandown, about three miles apart. The intention was to ensure that if one pump-station was hit by enemy bombing then the other would still be operational.

        • Yes there are the remains of the Pluto Pipeline coming ashore at Whippance Farm. They are on the beach just below their lower field. I see them every year when I go there with our radio club. The photo shows them on 27th July last year.

    • I think this is the correct decision.

      Any ship, particularly one which will venture into dangerous Ant/Arctic seas, represents a serious lump of hardware investment and bears the responsibility of the safety of the lives of all those on board.

      It needs to be officered, crewed and managed professionally and it deserves an appropriately significant name.

  9. Talking of seals (at least I think it is a seal but I am not very good at identidying sealions or seals – dredgers yes – animals no) the one I saw the other month appeared at Calshot again yesterday whilst the Angeles went by. This time it did not appear shy and stayed on the surface a while.

    • Richard, it most certainly is a seal. Sealions are resident in warmer climates, although when I was young (1960s, honest) there was a sealion living on a buoy in the western docks. I think it had escaped from a circus in Mayflower Park, I don’t know if it was ever recaptured. Some locals said it had escaped from Southampton Zoo on the common but that would of been far too far for it to waddle. Mind you the AIS has shown the Hythe Ferry up there at times……

  10. TRANSFORMING Cowes into a safe, sheltered harbour is the top priority for the newly appointed Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) chairman David Riley. Mr Riley, 63, has spoken out in favour of retaining marine employment sites with waterfront access in the Medina Valley and of the need for a long term vision for economic development of the area. He said CHC’s own Kingston Marine Services site should be promoted to help in further marine development along the river. “I’m keen to receive ideas from stakeholders for further development. It’s quite clear there is still a lot we could do,” said Mr Riley. “One of the things a healthy harbour will do is bring more people into the town. It’s extremely important we make Cowes attractive as we know a healthy high street helps a healthy port and a healthy port helps a healthy high street.” As previously reported, critics have attacked the schemes to make Cowes a ‘sheltered harbour’ raising concerns over silting and tidal flows, as well as concerns about possible damage to wildlife. CHC is due to reveal the results of an independent study into the concerns at a public meeting which is set to take place on May 19.

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