I well remember HMY Britannia visiting the River Dart in about 1954 and what an impessivesight she made, of course, when Her Majesty named her when launched the RN College at Dartmouth was known as Britannai Royal Naval College, which incidently is celkebratimg being 100 years old this year and replaced the floating ex RN wooded walled vessels Hindoustan and Britannia. It would have been wonderful if she had been moored in the River Thames next to HMS Belfast. HMY was designed as a 2 purpose vessel, 1/. as HM's Royal Yacht and 2/. as a Hospital ship. One of the problems with the vessel was the main electrical system on board was 110 volts Dc and many other non standard for he 1950s equipment which made maintenance very expensive and the obtaining of replacement parts - mechanical and electrical was non exsisitent and had to be made to order, although when built Britannia was the pride of British engineering, shipbuilding, fitting out with furniture, etc., and was during her service life an ambassador for Great Britain's industrial capability which sadly really no longer exsists.
my dad spent 13 years working on the yacht. I remember doing a father and son trip on it from Aberdeen to Pompey. I spent the whole time working watches in the boiler room and engine room, that was what made me sure I wanted to be an engineer on ships! Although the official line was she would be a hospital ship, it was never going to happen. The only available space for wards would be the royal apartments, hence the reason merchant ships were requisitioned for the Falklands conflict.
Moaf ! you lucky man. I would have given anything to have worked in "the Royal" engine room. I have so often stood staring in awe at the Britania when unloading at twyford wharf in Pompey. (early 60's). I salute you Chief.
I was on the middle watch in the boiler room and the chargehand came down with some spuds, chucked them in a bucket of water, disconnected a steam gauge line and put it in the bucket. Hey presto an hour later, lovely warm spuds! Genius!!
The next day, we drifted for a while and the gangway was lowered and we all went swimming. The water was freezing! There was this old bloke struggling to get out of the water, who I thought must have been one of the Dads. I grabbed his hand saying "alright mate!" and helped him up the ladder. When we got to the top, he was handed an Admirals reefer jacket - Doh! It sunk in a few moments later!!
When I was US Naval Port Operations Officer Naples early '80s she came in; Queen was flying in to join her and then sail/depart. At the Anglican church we went to we met the shipboard (RN) head chef in relation to the head chef ashore in England and he took us on a tour of the ship. All I can say is WOW. Even the Bentley garage on board was amazing. He said the Queen wasn't exactly a sailor (although her mother was) and she, the Queen, used to sit at the bottom of the staircase and just stare in higher seas, pointing to the place where she sat/sits. A very memorable event. Alan Hll Bridgeport, Pa. USA
The "Royal Yacht Britannia" should be on the "River Clyde", where she was born, not in Leith, it is a disgrace that we have no "Clyde Built" ships on the Clyde when we have such a history of building the best ships that sailed and served the trade routes and formed the back bone of "The Royal Navy" throughout the years.
Another wee bit of Britannia lore. While I was taking my tour on board I noted crewmen walking the open decks hunched over at times. I learned from our guide, the Chief Chef, that because the seaward windows in for example the dining room were about waist high whenever a crewman passed the window(s) outside he would hunch over and pass under the window so that the Queen didn't see them passing by on the weather deck and marring the view. Interesting. Alan Hill Bridgeport, Pa. USA
She is my favorite of the private yachts. Even though she is now moored in Edinburgh, I still believe that she is one of the most amazing and opulent yachts that ever sailed the seas. Extremely fine workmanship on the builder's behalf.
I toured the Britannia in Leith some years ago, but the crew's accommodation was not open to visitors. There was a mock-up POs' two-berth cabin on the quay which was so spartan that it made me wonder how the crew lived.
Edinburgh, Leith, what does it matter - there was serious consideration being given to scuttling her, so although she ended up in the wrong city, better that fate than Davey Jones !
Many of the features that made her the iconic example of the shipbuilder's skills, some of which were unique in shipbuilding practice, were personally driven and supervised on his many visits by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and were certainly not included, nor allowed for, in the original specifications, with attendant significant impact on the final cost in materials, manhours and rework.
Similar thing happened with the construction of the fast clipper Cutty Sark, which was largely responsible for the financial collapse of her Dumbarton shipbuilder, Messrs Scott & Linton, due to her Owner and his Representative demanding improvements and modifications, all to the highest, and most costly, standard available.
On the official Britania website there are links to significant do***ents which detail her engineering specs and go into a good deal of explanation as to why certain systems were specified (i.e. the DC electrical system which was chosen in the interest of speeding construction and cost control). Interesting reading.