Portsmouth Harbour

Portsmouth Harbour

Portsmouth Harbour is a large natural harbour in Hampshire, England. Geographically it is a ria.

The city of Portsmouth lies to the east on Portsea Island, and Gosport to the west on the mainland. At its north end is Portchester Castle, of Roman origin and the first fortress built to protect the harbour.

The mouth of the harbour provides access to the Solent. It is best known as the home of the Royal Navy, HMNB Portsmouth. Because of its strategic location on the south coast of England, protected by the natural defence of the Isle of Wight, it has since the Middle Ages been the home to England's (and later Britain's) navy. The narrow entrance, and the forts surrounding it gave it a considerable advantage of being virtually impregnable to attack from the sea—however, by use of subterfuge, the French sacked Portsmouth in the 14th century, decimating its populationFact|date=February 2007.

In modern times, the harbour has become a major commercial ferry port, with regular services to Le Havre, France; Cherbourg, France; St Malo, France; The Channel Islands and the Isle of Wight. There is a passenger ferry to Gosport. It is also a major area for leisure sailing. Recently, a large area of the former naval dockyard has been redeveloped into the Gunwharf Quays development, including the Spinnaker Tower, and has added further dimension to the harbour.

Portsmouth Ferry-portPortsmouth investigated three locations for a ferry port at the end of the 1960's and the current location was chosen. The choice was based on cost and the likely benefit of cross channel ferries. The site was actually well located at the end of the newly constructed m275. Originally built with 2 berths (with potential to grow) the site opened in 1976 with the Earl William ("Sealink") running to the Channel Islands and the newly named Viking Victory ("Townsend Thoresen") running to Cherbourg and the Brittany Prince ("Brittany Ferries") running to St Malo.

All three operators increased their usage of the port during the mid-eighties, which led to expansion. An additional 2 berths were to be built, both twin tier. Berth 2 was filled and a new berth 2 built, which was mainly used by the Earl Granville ("Sealink") running to both the Channel Islands and Cherbourg, Berth 1 become more tight to use and the newly Ro-Ro orientated "Commodore shipping" used it for their Channel Island freight services. Berth 3 was left uncompleted for some time while berth 4 was finished. This was generally considered the "Brittany Ferries" berth. When berth 3 was finished "Townsend Thoresen" moved their passenger operation entirely from Southampton to Portsmouth. This was the final nail in the coffin of Southampton's ferry port. Shortly afterwards, "Townsend Thoresen" bought "P&O" (Normandy Ferries) and relocated them to Portsmouth. The old Southampton Ferry port was then converted to a marina and most of the vestiges were removed (although if you know where to look you can still see some)

The continued use of Portsmouth saw the creation of a berth 5 and what was the final stage of development. Portsmouth had seen additional ferry companies "Channel Island Ferries" (later "British Channel Island Ferries"), "Hoverspeed" and "Truckline" and new routes to Caen, Santander and Bilbao. With the advent of the Channel tunnel and the abolition of Duty Free most of the companies disappeared. Sealink merged their Channel Island operations with the newly created "Channel Island Ferries" to create "British Channel Island Ferries". They then later relocated operations to Poole before merging into "Condor Ferries". "Sealink" operated to Cherbourg with the Earl Granville for several further years until the Earl Granville violently ran aground off Cherbourg. This effectively led to Sealink´s withdrawal. "Hoverspeed" ran the HOVERSPEED GB from Portsmouth to Cherbourg intermittently one summer - often the "new ferry of the future" was out of action and the now repaired but ageing Earl Granville would step into the breach - much to passenger annoyance.

At the turn of the century Portsmouth only had ferries from "Brittany Ferries", "Condor" and "P&O". "P&O" replaced the ageing Super Vikings with a Ro-pax ship and a Sea-cat on the Portsmouth Cherbourg route. But by 2006 "P&O" had all but closed and the Spain route to Bilbao and suddenly Portsmouth would become a quiet port again. "LD lines" run one sailing a day to Le Harve and "Aznar Lineas" tried briefly to compete in the northern Spain route, but it lasted 3 months before closure.

Today, Brittany Ferries operates a 3x daily service to Caen, daily to St Malo & offers high speed service seasonal service to Cherbourg which runs twice daily except on Friday, Saturday & Sunday when it is reduced to daily & an extra morning service to Caen is scheduled. LD Lines offers a daily link to Le Harvre & Condor offers freight-only sailings to the Channel Islands twice daily. The sole remaining P&O service to Bilbao cycles through every 3 days.

ee also

*Portsmouth Harbour railway station
*Whale Island, the home of HMS "Excellent"

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