Continuing my trip down London’s River Thames on board the HURRICANE CLIPPER, (Thames Clippers operates a fleet of twelve luxury high speed catamarans) the next ship that caught my eye, a short distance astern the WELLINGTON, and right before Blackfrairs Bridge is a dark hulled ship, clearly an older vessel with a tall silver funnel and a banner with the website www.hmspresident.com. Like the WELLINGTON, this ship has also spent a very long time moored on the Thames.
HMS PRESIDENT, listed on the www.hmspresident.com website as a floating jewel in the heart of the capital, and perfect for any style of event or conference. HMS PRESIDENT is available for hire, to host all kinds of events. The ship was built at the shipyard of Lobnitz & Company, Renfrew, Scotland and launched January 29, 1918 as HMS SAXIFRAGE. An Anchusa-class Royal Navy sloop HMS SAXIFRAGE was a Q-Ship, (also known as Q-boats, Decoy Vessels), a ship that would appear to be an easy target for a submarine, but in fact was a heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry. The class of ships were designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks where upon the Q-ship would open fire.
HMS SAXIFRAGE appears to be the sole WWI Q-ship surviving. Possibly, due to her commissioning so close to the end of WWI. HMS SAXIFRAGE measured 1250 tons with an overall length of 265 feet. I searched for more information as to her activities during that period but cannot yet locate any. In 1921 HMS SAXIFRAGE became HMS PRESIDENT, a R.N.V.R. drillship, the headquarters ship for the Royal Navy Reserves arriving on the Thames in June 1922. In 1988 HMS PRESIDENT and her sister HMS CHRYSANTHEMUM, also moored at an adjacent berth on the Embankment, were both sold. HMS CHRYSANTHEMUM was scrapped in 1995 while HMS PRESIDENT remained on the Thames and in 2006 was bought by the serviced office company, MLS Group Plc.
In October 2010 HMS PRESIDENT underwent a refit and today is active as a event space: www.hmspresident.com
HMS PRESIDENT and is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels.
As I traveled down the river and under Blackfriars Bridge I looked back at the two older ships moored on Victoria Embankment, WELLINGTON visible ahead of HMS PRESIDENT, in the distance Waterloo Bridge.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.