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After a very calm and quick return home from London Waverley prepared for her final four days of public sailings for 2009 (16th to 19th Oct) plus a very special private charter to naval shipbuilder BVT Surface Fleet Solutions on Trafalgar Day for the launch of the fifth and penultimate Type 45 destroyer, HMS Defender.
The weather over the final weekend varied from bright sunshine and crystal clear visibility to dreich misty rain.
Waverley, back at her base at Plantation Quay, Glasgow after her 7 week absense in the South Coast and the Thames, preparing for her final sailings of 2009.
A good view of HMS Illustrious passing off Dunoon on Saturday 17th Oct. She had taken part in international naval exercises off the Scottish coast in past weeks and had come to the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane on the Gareloch a few days earlier for re-storing.
HMS Illustrious is the only one of the three current UK 'aircraft carriers' currently in service - HMS Ark Royal is currently undergoing refit and HMS Invincible has been decommissioned and is unlikely to sail again under the white ensign. The three ships will be replaced by the new carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales in 2014-16. Fabrication of main hull sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth has already begun at BVT's Govan shipyard - in the last few days the yard has taken delivery of two of Queen Elizabeth's four, 50 tonne stabiliser units from the makers, Rolls Royce Marine at Dunfermline in Fife. RR Marine includes the former Edinburgh-based Brown Brothers which developed the famous Denny-Brown stabisation systems in partnership with the renowned shipbuilder William Denny & Brothers of Dumbarton. Brown Brothers also supply marine steering gear and the steam catapult for past and curret aircraft carriers (including the US Nimitz class).
On Monday 19th October the Cunard Line flagship Queen Mary 2 visited the Clyde for the first time - celebrating the 5th anniversary of her entry into service. Although Cunard is now US-owned, they seem keen to maintain their historic link with the Clyde. The Company's first transatlantic liners were designed to the specification of pioneering Clyde shipbuilder Robert Napier. One of the prime investors in the new Line (in 1840) was Glasgow shipowner George Burns and his son, Lord Inverclyde, was Cunard Chairman for many years. The Clyde shipyards built 122 ocean liners for the Cunard fleet.
Although Queen Mary 2's superstructure is similar to many modern cruise ships, her hull sets her apart from them and she is likely to be the last ocean passenger liner to be built. She is designed to cope with the Atlantic Ocean in tempest with her finer entry (slim bow shape) and sturdy hull. Unlike QM2, her new Cunard fleetmates, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, are built in the style typical of modern cruise ships and are not ocean passenger liners. QM2's stern is certainly unusual - less elegant than her predecessors, Queen Mary (1936), Queen Elizabeth (1940) and Queen Elizabeth 2 (1969), but it is also intended to give her increased stability.
Unlike many of her Cunard ancestors QM2 is not a Clyde-built vessel although the shipyard at St Nazaire in France, in which she was built, was designed and brought into service by John Scott of the Greenock firm Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, which was the oldest shipbuilding company in the world until the nationalisation of British shipbuilding in 1977.
After a very impressive fireworks display to celebrate her first visit to the Clyde, Waverley escorted her until the liner reached Cloch Point; this sailing brought Waverley's 2009 public sailings to and end.
At 150,000 tonnes QM2 is the largest passenger ship ever seen on the Clyde - perhaps she will return some day.
After her last public sailing Waverley had a day off to prepare for a special private charter to te shipbuilders BVT - this entailed her first call in 27 years at Stobcross Quay which had been her base from 1977 to 1981.