The Thames played a leading role in the spectacular opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics.

From the first film sequence featuring the source at Thames Head and various locations along the river to the arrival of the torch aboard a high-speed boat driven by David Beckham the river was featured heavily in the ceremony watched by billions.

PLA West India

Superyachts, sailing vessels and cruise ships crowd into West India Dock

Meanwhile security vessels, cruise ships and superyachts all arrived on the river as London 2012 started.

There is the most activity in West India Dock since the decline of commercial traffic in the Pool.

And the PLA has thanked recreational boat users for observing the river restrictions imposed to prevent congestion on the Thames.

Vessels started arriving on July 11th and, by the Games opening , the PLA had piloted 19 Olympics-bound vessels into London including the helicopter carrier  HMS Ocean and cruise ships Gemini, Braemar, Deutschland and Caledonia Sky. 

Later 14 tall ships sailed up ther river to Woolwich as part of the Sail Royal Greenwich event.

PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt said: “Naval vessels, cruise ships, sailing boats and super yachts often come to London.  It has been unusual to handle so many in such a concentrated period of time. Throughout we’ve been doing our core job: keeping the second biggest port in the UK and the country’s busiest inland waterway running safely. 

“With the Games underway our immediate priorities are to keep this essential ‘supply line’ going, sustaining the Olympics with essential supplies and managing safety on a river which, in central London, is going to be much busier than normal.  To do this we’ve got additional launches on the river, all leave has been cancelled and we have staff working extra shifts to cover key patrol and port control duties.

“The Thames also has a key role in helping spectators get to riverside Games venues and in helping the same spectators and competitors relax on charter boats in the evenings.”

PLA pilot launch heading out to meet cruise ship, Braemar, bound for the Royal Docks

All large vessels coming on the river are overseen the PLA’s navigation centres at Gravesend and Woolwich, 24-hour a day harbour patrols and guided to their berths by PLA pilots. 

As reported by River Thames News  it has established ‘gatekeeper’ patrols at Gravesend and Richmond to monitor and assist recreational vessels looking to travel into London through the Olympics in order to minimise congestion on the river in central London.   

Link to RTN Gatekeeper story

Mr Everitt said;;: “A job on this scale only happens with the help and understanding of river users and the wider community.

" We want to extend our thanks to all of them, particularly the recreational boating community who have observed the ‘harbour full’ notice we had to put out some months ago to keep river congestion in central London to a minimum.  The forbearance and understanding of all has been invaluable.”


Story dated July 30th 2012

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