Author Topic: Chatham Dockyard  (Read 2776 times)

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Offline Man of Kent1

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #165 on: September 02, 2015, 23:02:48 pm »
Again, with kind permission of Keith Richards, a one-time Whitstable lad but now living in Glasgow, I'm posting a couple of pictures relating to Navy Week held at the Chatham Dockyard before the war.
The diver photo is dated 1930 and the second, a souvenir card dated 1937:

Offline cliveh

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #166 on: October 20, 2015, 13:48:21 pm »
No.2 Slip c.1914 with the hulk of the floating battery HMS 'Thunderbolt' in the foreground which became known as 'Thunderbolt Pier'

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Offline cliveh

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #167 on: October 27, 2015, 08:35:38 am »
Riverside views of the Covered Building Slips:

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Offline cliveh

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #168 on: December 01, 2015, 10:26:43 am »
The recently uncovered lock of the underground canal that connects the South Mast Pond (now a car park) to Brunel's Saw Mill in the Dockyard. Built 1812-1814.

 'Green' logs were stored in the mast pond to season and then fed through the canal to the Saw Mill where they were emptied into an 'elliptical basin' to be then hoisted up by a mechanical lift When it reached the surface it was grabbed by the arms of a moveable crane on rails. This crane descended an incline and then deposited the log onto a 'drying bed' where it would be surveyed. The same crane would then move the dried logs into the saw mill for sawing.

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Offline Pete

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #169 on: March 05, 2017, 12:09:18 pm »
Thanks Clive, once again I was thinking laterally instead of directly - I pictured 'steam reserve' as being reserve boilers  ::)

The Steam reserves as of June 2 1888
Division of the Medway Steam Reserve are complete, and crews have been allotted for a most powerful fleet, comprising two first-class battle-ships, two first-class cruisers, three second-class cruisers, two third-class cruisers, and two gun-vessels, together with a large flotilla of torpedo boats. The following is a list of the ships of war in the Medway ready to hoist the pennant as soon as the order is given for the mobilisation scheme to be carried out: The Benbow (12 guns), first-class battleship, 10,000 tons, 11,500 horse-power, speed attained 161 knots; the Rodney (10), first-class armour-plated battleship, 9700 tons, 11,500 horse power, speed attained 17 knots; the Warspite (10), first-class armour- plated cruiser, 8500 tons, 10,000 horse-power; the Northampton (12), first-class armour-plated cruiser, 763U tons, 6010 horse-power; -the, Mersey (12), second-class protected cruiser, 3550 tons, 6000 horse- power; the Severn (12), second-class protected cruiser, 3550 tons, 6000 horse-power; the Arethusa (10), second-class protected cruiser, 3750 tons, 5500 horse-power; the Mohawk (6), third-class torpedo cruiser, 1630 tons, 3500 horse-power; the Tartar (6), third-class torpedo cruiser, 1630 tons, 3500 horse- power the Grasshopper (1), first-class torpedo gun- vessel, 450 tons, 3000 horse-power; and the Slaney (3), iron gunboat, 363 tons, 370 horse-power. All these vessels, with the exception of the Northampton and Slaney, are of recent construction, and have never been out of English waters. Two of them, the Rodney and Benbow are among the most formidable warships afloat, the Rodney carrying four 69-ton breech loading guns  in her barbettes and the Benbow two 110-ton breech loading guns. These vessels are plated with armour 18in. in thickness. The Grasshopper has a record of 19 knots per hour . The cruisers Mersey and Severn have attained a speed of 18 knots per hour at their steam trials; and the Arethusa, Warsplte, Mohawk, and Tartar, are capable of steaming 17 knots per hour. The Northampton and Slaney are much slower, having speeds of only 13-2 and 91 knots respectively. The total number of guns carried by these vessels is 94, ranging in calibre from the 110-ton guns of the Benbow to the 64- pounder guns of the Slaney. The aggregate tonnage of the fleet is 52,75j3 and horse-power 66,940. All the ships are armed with breech loading guns excepting the Northampton and Slaney, which are mounted with muzzle-loaders. The fleet is also equipped with three-pounder and six-pounder quick firing guns (of which 77 are carried), and Nordenfelt and Gardner machine guns, and the Slaney is the only ship not fitted with a torpedo armament. The cost of these vessels is about four millions sterling, and it is unquestionably the most formidable reserve fleet that has ever existed in the Medway.

Cardigan Observer 2/6/1888
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Offline John

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #170 on: March 30, 2017, 08:38:32 am »
An enlargement from this photo appears in the topic Kind old Mother Nature.. storms, ice, erosion etc, but I thought it would be worth reproducing the complete pic here.
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Offline cliveh

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #171 on: May 16, 2017, 15:46:08 pm »
As close a view as I have to match from 2010.

In the original photo you can just see on the right the wall of No.2 Slip which was destroyed by fire in the 1960's.

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Offline Longpockets

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #172 on: January 06, 2021, 16:16:28 pm »
Thunderbolt pier Following on from reply 170 above, it shows an image of HMS Thunderbolt in front of Covered slip No. 2

HMS Thunderbolt, along with HMS Terror (1856) and HMS Erebus (1856) was one of the three iron-hulled armoured floating batteries ordered during the Crimean War to follow the slightly earlier wooden-hulled Aetna Class Ironclad Floating Battery.

Thunderbolt iron floating battery was built by Messrs. Samuda, of Millwall, Poplar. Between 1860 to its closure in 1865, Samudas was one of the top dockyards in London.

She was launched 16th April 1856, construction having commenced on the 8th. January. Carrying sixteen 68-pounders, each weighing 95 cwt, she was 186 feet long, 48½ broad, and 18½ deep with 200 horsepower engines. Construction was teak planks 6 inches thick with 4-inch iron plates securely bolted to it. Being designed and built to withstand shot or shell fired at 400 yds to have no effect.

From an entry alongside a photograph of a model of her on the Royal Museum Greenwich web site it states……” It has 15 smooth-bore muzzle-loading guns mounted on either side of the hull, of which only one side would be rigged for firing during a bombardment of another vessel or targets ashore. The vessel also had a telescopic funnel ” which differs from other sources quoted above.

In 1863 the floating batteries Thunderbolt and Aetna were stationed in the Thames to protect the river during the dismantling and reconstruction of the forts, on the Kent and Essex shores, at Shornemead and Coalhouse point. They were moved to the Medway, where they will be in future, to protect the entrance of the Thames and Medway.

Thunderbolt was attached to the steam reserve squadron in the Medway and was antifouled in 1865 and had all her guns and her stores on board ready for undocking on the spring tides. She was used as a floating pier head at Chatham in 1873 and replaced Thunder as a floating workshop in Chatham dockyard in 1874. After having repairs in 1878 she was moved out of dock. Refitted in 1915 to become HMS Deadalus as a nominal depot ship for the Royal Navy Air Service she remained so until 1919 and later reverted to a hulk under her original name. In 1948, was rammed and sunk by a tug. She was eventually raised and broken a year later.

Some additional information –

HMS Daedalus

RNAS Central Training School Cranwell... it is also, I believe, a common myth that Cranwell was named HMS Daedalus. It was common practice then that naval personnel assigned to shore stations would be put on the books of a ship for administration purposes (and to render them subject to the Naval Discipline Act. HMS Daedalus served that purpose for most RNAS personnel... the confusion came when the draft was put on services records as HMS Daedalus (Cranwell)... indicating where they would be employed, but leading people to think Cranwell had a ship's name. Daedalus covered several other RNAS training bases incl. Kingsnorth, Eastchurch, Grain, Port Victoria, Manston, Cateswater, Mullion, Tresco and Newlyn.

The source of the above paragraph.  

A subsequent HMS Thunderbolt 1940 A ship and a boat, which both sank, the boat sank twice.

The submarine HMS Thunderbolt was lost in combat on March 14, 1943, after a short but successful World War II career that saw it sink multiple Italian vessels, which might have been surprising to some since the submarine had actually sank three years prior in 1940 with a loss of nearly all hands.

The submarine scheduled to become HMS Thetis in 1939. It would later sink but was raised and served in World War II as the HMS Thunderbolt.

That’s because the HMS Thunderbolt was once the HMS Thetis, or, more properly, it was almost the HMS Thetis. It was a submarine launched in 1938 as part of the interwar buildup of arms. The submarine was scheduled to become the HMS Thetis when it was commissioned.

But the planned commissioning didn’t happen. As the submarine went through its sea trials, a tragic accident occurred.

Details on HMS Thetis is covered in topics on this forum.

PLEASE NOTE - There are conflicting dates from the sources I have used to compile the above so there needs to be a little wiggle room here.

      
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Offline Longpockets

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #173 on: April 01, 2021, 19:59:04 pm »
On the 31st March 1984 Chatham Dockyard closed, ending the Royal Navy's presence in Chatham and the surrounding area.
At its height, the Dockyard employed more than 10,000 workers from more than 26 different trades, and was renowned for its high class of work. The closure on 31 March 1984 brought to an end more than 400 years of shipbuilding and naval tradition.
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Offline Kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #174 on: July 21, 2021, 14:14:31 pm »
Notes of a Meeting held on 14 October 1974 to consider Chatham Dockyard's Shipwork Programme/Labour Run Down

Present:
Rear Admiral M H Griffin - DPSD (Chairman)
Mr. F. P. Skinner - AD (Ships)
Mr. J. C. Allen - AD (SD)
Captain G. M. Cornish RN - AD (N)
Mr. P. O. E. Trubshawe - CC/AD (Ships)
Mr. N. C. March - SO to DPSD (as Secretary)

DPSD said that the meeting had been called in order that an appraisal could be made of the situation prevailing at Chatham; to examine in detail the different proposals which had been put forward, viz the new wages structure paper prepared by AD(SD); GM Chatham's letter dated 3 October, on the programme of shipwork for the years 1974-1977 inclusive and additionally GM Chatham's views on AD(SD)'s paper on the new wages structure.  The GM's views on the later paper were that two actions were required.  The first action was an instruction to him that the completion dates of the SSNs take second place to the actions needed to reduce the labour wastage and that from now on policy would be to overload the Yard to whatever degree is necessary to sustain a fully workload for the three major trades M and L fitters and shipwrights.  A second action would be to reduce the work content of the SSN refits at Chatham to the absolute minimum with SSBN priority of support and supply, eg no As and As with possibly a longer refit slot so as to reduce the percentage of available labour employed on SSNs to a minimum, thereby making room for more alternative and consistent work.  This action should be applied to CONQUERER forthwith.

CFS was interested in the Chatham manpower/submarine programme and DPSD suggested that a proper paper should be drafted in order to provide both CFS and CED of the up to date position at the Yard.  The paper could be updated from time to time and a continuous situation report rendered,  AD(Ships) referred to a previous brief (dated 17 July 1974) in which CFS had been provided with a brief outlining the programme of work at Chatham.  This could be revised and updated.  DPSD agreed with the proposal put forward by AD (Ships) and added that the new wages structure paper by AD(SD) was the main hope in solving the manpower wastage problem which prevailed at Chatham.  Be did not accept unreservedly that the recent problems at Chatham, eg QA fasteners and defective No-A1 bronze castings, necessitated a major change in SSN refitting policy eg a change in priority and reduction of the refitting task by excluding As and As.  AD(Ships) considered that GM was concerned about the disruptive effect on the manning of SSN refits when unforeseen problems arise resulting in an increase in waiting time due to an inability to absorb surplus labour thrown up in the way.  Cleary, GM wished to be in a better position to cope with such disruptive problems in the future.  The present manning difficulties at Chatham, with 2-stream SSN refitting were due to the reduced size of the industrial labour force, now about 4600 men compared with the 5400 men previously considered essential for a viable refitting programme.  Mr. Trubshawe considered that the GM wished to have a smaller percentage of the labour force allocated to SSN refits in order to achieve a viable refitting programme, more flexibility, and thereby minimising waiting time.

AD (Ships) said that the assumption of the new wage structure was that it would stimulate recruitment and retention of labour and further achieve significant productivity gains thus allowing a bigger programme of work to be allocated to Chatham.  AD(N) said that the problem of the Ni=A1 bronze castings had produced a hiccup and a "staff on/staff off" problem.  An unforeseen unprogrammed task of this nature was bound to affect scheduled work and cause increased waiting time if it proved impracticable to absorb labour displaced.  Mr. Trubshawe said that this was not conductive to job satisfaction.  DPSD suggested that Chatham's difficulties would be eased if additional work in the form of an undated low priority project were to be added to the present programme.  If this were to be adopted there would be ample work for all.  Albeit that it would require the work-force to accept a higher degree of mobility.  This possible solution would need to be put to the local Trade Unions for their agreement.  Mr. Trubshawe said that there were two other factors which warranted consideration, namely, the wastage rate of each trade was unequal and different trade groups had varying views on what constituted job satisfaction.

AD(SD) said that there were three basic propositions.

1.   The new wages structure which it was hoped would bring the work-force back to the 5,400 men required;

2.   To increase the supporting load so permitting labour to be used more fully.  This was a helpful rather than a perfect solution; and

3.   To reduce the SSN work load.

It was his opinion that any reduction in the SSN work load would be highly dangerous as it was the main task of Chatham and once it became known to the work-force it could well accelerate the run-down.

DPSD said that it was highly unlikely that the Naval Staff would agree to a reduction in the SSN programme.  AD(N) added that there were other factors to be considered, eg the weapon development programme for which a large financial expenditure had been committed.  Mr. Trubshawe queried whether the new wages structure proposals on their own provided the only effective solution to Chatham's difficulties, and suggested that other measures would be needed in addition.  DPSD said that AD(SD)'s paper showed quite clearly what penalties would result, and when, through losses in manpower.  He did not agree with GM Chatham's proposition to exclude all As & As from SSN refits but felt that the Dockyard should have authority to determine what As & As could be accepted.  AD(Ships) said GM Chatham's proposal was to deal with the immediate short-term situation, whereas the new wage structure was long-term.  AD(SD) said that if the new wages proposal was accepted the effect would be quickly apparent.  DPSD said that the reduction of As & As should be regarded as a possible solution only if all else failed.  The provision of a 'hospital' ship would be more acceptable to be Naval Staff and would provide alternative work to absorb any spare capacity and therefore a higher degree of job satisfaction.  He considered that the best solution was to seek approval for the new wages structure and to recommend the need for a 'hospital' ship.  AD(N) said that it was clear to him, from discussions he had had with workmen in a previous appointment that they often regarded themselves as pawns in an employment game.  The workmen were often shifted from task to task at very short notice and there appeared to them to be satisfactory management plan.  SPSD agreed with the views expressed by AD(N) but added that the GM Chatham considered waiting time to be the major factor in job dissatisfaction.  The SSN programme would have to remain the priority task for Chatham but an increase in the overall work load by the provision of a 'hospital' ship would reduce waiting time.  The local TU representatives would need to be consulted.  AD(SD) said that the views of GM Chatham would need to be sought initially.  AD(Ships) suggested that Minerva might be withdrawn from Chatham and replaced by more 'hospital' ships.  This would provide an undated low priority task of a long refit nature and would reduce the imbalance of electrical trades.

ADSD said that the new wage structure would assist the problem of the imbalance of trades.  DPSD said that the new wages structure was aimed at halting the work-force run out.  Once this had been stabilised it would be possible to better balance the work programme.  The action now required was to:-

a.   inform GM Chatham that his proposal to reduce the priority accorded to the SSN programme was unlikely to be acceptable not was GM's proposition to reduce the SSN refit work package by excluding all As & As.

b.   to inform the GM Chatham that the new wages structure was viewed as the best solution to Chatham's manpower problems;

c.   consider the addition of a low priority task to the Chatham programme to improve scope for absorbing any surplus labour; and

d.   ask GM Chatham in preparing the further report mentioned in paragraph 15 of his letter reference GM 859 of 3 October, 1974 to take into account the foregoing comments.   

Offline Kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #175 on: July 22, 2021, 14:16:19 pm »
CONFIDENTIAL

The General Manager
HM Dockyard
Chatham

4th November 1974

PROGRAMME OF SHIPWORK 1974/75, 1975/76, 1976/77.

1.   Chatham's difficulties in coping with the approved programme of work and the importance of maintaining a programme overload situation are fully appreciated and all possible assistance will be rendered in support of the Dockyard.

2.   The Dockyard conclusion "that it will be necessary to continue with a programme based upon proposal 2 but enhanced by SSK D&EDs, RFA refits and other short term work" is noted and agreed.  However, no action will be taken  to adjust the length of MINERVA's major refit pending further developments.  Action has been taken to include the refits of RFAs BACCHUS, SIR GALAHAD and SIR BEDIVERE in Chatham's 1975/76 programme of work.

3.   The proposal to introduce frigate normal refits into the Chatham programme in lieu of Leander major refits has been examined with the Naval Staff and found to be unacceptable from Ship Availability and Base Port considerations at the present time.

4.   SSN refitting is Chatham Dockyard's most important programme commitment and thus the Naval staff is unlikely to agree to any policy changes which would prejudice the Yard's ability to meet the SSN refitting programme or would reduce the scope of such refits.  Chatham must face up to the problems created by the unforeseen disruptions to the nuclear submarine refitting task and take all possible actions to minimise the consequential effects on the surface ship programme.

5.   To ease Chatham's problems it is under consideration to increase the shipwork load by adding to it a major refitting task which would be undated and of low priority.  Financial provision for such a project would have to account of the anticipated effects of inefficient manning.  This measure, if implemented, should reduce the amount of waiting time.

6.   Strenuous efforts are being made to obtain approval for the early implementation of a new wages structure at Chatham which it is hoped will stimulate recruitment and retention of industrial manpower and this facilitate the build up of the labour force at Chatham to that needed to support a fully viable programme of shipwork including two stream SSN refits.  A change in current refitting policy at this stage would be untimely.  Dockyard must continue to plan for success in their efforts to meet the SSN refitting programme.

7.   The further proposals for improving the Chatham programme of work, referred to in paragraph 15 of former a., are to take into account the foregoing remarks.

8.   A copy of the notes of a recent CED meeting on the Chatham shipwork programme is enclosed for information and guidance.

Offline Kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #176 on: August 09, 2021, 17:34:18 pm »
Kent Evening Post

Monday, 16th August 1976

Sailmaker John Breezes to a New Port

The last Navy sailmaker in Chatham Dockyard has sailed away to Gosport.
Chief sailmaker John Amiel, of Hever Croft, Strood, left Chatham sail loft on Friday to work on seaman duties at Gosport submarine headquarters.
John, 37, worked at his trade, which is as old as the Navy itself, on board ships on the Dockyard before joining HMS Triumph in 1971 in Singapore, where he can claim to be the last uniformed sailmaker in the Far east.

Badge

The sailmakers branch in the Navy was closed in the early sixties, when the last course qualified at Portsmouth.
Now there are only about eight men left who are entitled to wear the exclusive lapel badge of a needle, thread and marlin spike, and John is one of them. 
Recently, he has been teaching in the Leadership School at HMS Pembroke.

Offline Kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #177 on: August 10, 2021, 20:43:45 pm »
Medway Command
PRESS RELEASE
19th February 1976

the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Roy Mason, has replied as follows to an open letter from Mrs Peggy Fenner asking about defence cuts in general and about the future of Chatham Dockyard in particular.

"Thank you for your letter of 5th February.
You asked for an absolute assurance that the defence budget will remain unchanged at its current level.  In deciding the level of defence expenditure the Government is determined to safeguard the essential security interests of Britain and her Allies.  Military, political, economic and industrial factors must all be taken into account; but the relative strengths of these factors change from time to time and the defence programme cannot be immune from changing circumstances.  For this reason I do not believe that a responsible Defence Secretary of whichever Party could give a categorical assurance of the kind you are seeking.  What I can say, and have already said many times, is that we shall maintain unimpaired the effectiveness of our essential contribution to NATO.
In the naval area, in which you of course take a special interest, such measures as the continuation of the anti-submarine warfare cruiser and nuclear-powered fleet submarines programmes; and our plans to order the sea Harrier, Sea Skua and Sub Harpoon will ensure the effectiveness of the Navy's contribution to NATO's common defence.  At sea Britain provides the major contribution - some 70% of NATO's immediately available maritime forces - to the defence of the Eastern Atlantic and Channel areas and to the security of the sea-borne supply and reinforcements routes from North America to Europe.  I think therefore that we can be said to be playing a vital role in the Alliance's naval strategy.
You asked for a categorical assurance tat the Dockyard will continue to service naval vessels without contraction.  I understand your concern; but for the reasons I have outlined above no Government could give the sort of absolute undertaking you are seeking.  You will, however, remember that more than once we have said that all four home Dockyards are to be retained.  This remains the case; so far ahead as we can see the Dockyards will have a continuing heavy load of naval refitting and repair work.
In view of the fact that your letter to me was an open letter, I am publishing this reply".

Offline Kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #178 on: December 09, 2021, 20:00:46 pm »
Three flak towers positioned in Chatham Dockyard during WWII.  In Google Earth you can find their location by looking for the longer shadows.  Unfortunately I have never seen a photo of these. 

The towers are marked by a X in a box.

Offline Kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #179 on: January 21, 2022, 21:20:46 pm »
09 July , 1699 , Navy Board to Resident Commissioner; no shipwrights or others to be entered in HM Dockyard who are not Protestants. Strict enquiry to be made to find Papists and cause them to be discharged.