Britannia at pierhead on the River Mersey, Liverpool
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Owner:||Her Majesty's Government|
John Brown & Company|
|Launched:||16 April 1953|
|Commissioned:||11 January 1954|
|Decommissioned:||11 December 1997|
|Status:||Museum ship open to the public, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland|
|Tonnage:||5769 GT (gross tonnage)|
|Length:||412 ft (126 m)|
|Beam:||55 ft (17 m)|
|Height:||139 ft (42 m) to top of mainmast|
|Draught:||15 ft (4.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbine, 12,000 hp|
|Speed:||21.5 knots (39.8 km/h) maximum speed|
|Range:||2,400 nautical miles (4,400 km)|
|Troops:||1 platoon of Royal Marines|
217 Royal Yachtsmen
Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of the British royal family, the 83rd such vessel since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. She is the second Royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the famous racing cutter built for The Prince of Wales in 1893. She is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.
HMY Britannia was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, UK, being launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953 and commissioned on 11 January 1954.
The ship was designed with three masts, a 133-foot (41 m) foremast, a 139-foot (42 m) mainmast, and a 118-foot (36 m) mizzenmast. The top 20 feet (6.1 m) of the foremast and mainmast were hinged, to allow the ship to pass under bridges.
During her career as Royal Yacht she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. In this time Britannia steamed 1,087,623 nautical miles (2,014,278 km).
On 20 July 1959, Britannia sailed the newly-opened Saint Lawrence Seaway en route to Chicago where she docked, making the Queen the first Canadian monarch to visit the city. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was aboard Britannia for part of this cruise; Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan also were later welcomed aboard the Yacht. Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, took their honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia in 1981. The ship also evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986.
In 1997, John Major's Conservative government committed itself to replacing the Royal Yacht if re-elected, while the Labour Party declined to disclose its plans for the vessel. Following Labour's victory on 1 May 1997 it was announced that the vessel would be retired and no replacement would be built. The Conservative government argued that the cost of the vessel was justified by its role in foreign policy and promoting British interests abroad, particularly through conferences held by British Invisibles. When cancelling the replacement of the vessel, the new Labour government argued that the expenditure could not be justified given the other pressures on the defence budget (from which it would be funded and maintained). Proposals for the construction of a new royal yacht, perhaps financed through a loan or by the Sovereign's own funds, have since made little headway.
The Royal Yacht's last foreign mission was to convey the last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten (now the The Lord Patten of Barnes) and the Prince of Wales, away from Hong Kong after the handover of the British colony to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. Britannia was decommissioned on 11 December 1997.
There was some controversy over the siting of the ship, with some arguing that she would be better moored on the Clyde, where she was built, than in Edinburgh, with which the yacht had few links. However, her positioning in Leith coincided with a redevelopment of the harbour area, and the advent of Scottish Devolution.
Her Majesty the Queen attended the decommissioning, along with most of the senior members of the Royal Family, and the normally impassive monarch famously shed a tear publicly after disembarking for the last time.
Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, Britannia is now permanently moored as a five-star visitor attraction in the historic Port of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, and is cared for by a Charitable Trust. Entrance to the yacht is via the Ocean Terminal development. She is also one of the UK's top corporate events venues. On 18 May 2006, the Swiss-born Hollywood star and legendary first Bond girl, Ursula Andress, celebrated her 70th birthday on board the Royal Yacht.
A retired Rolls-Royce Phantom V state car, in use by the royal family until 2002, is on display in the purpose-built garage aboard Britannia. Other sights on the five decks that are open to the public include the Queen's Bedroom (behind a glass wall), and the State Dining Room, where a lock of Horatio Nelson's hair is displayed.
Bow of HMY Britannia
- HMY-Britannia Moored in Leith.JPG
HMY Britannia at Ocean Terminal Leith
Ship's launch, "The Royal Barge"
Flag Officers Royal Yachts
- Vice-Admiral Sir Connolly Abel-Smith 1954-1958
- Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Dawnay 1958-1962
- Rear-Admiral Sir Joseph Henley 1962-1965
- Rear-Admiral Sir Patrick Morgan 1965-1970
- Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Trowbridge 1970-1975
- Rear-Admiral Sir Hugh Janion 1975-1981
- Rear-Admiral Sir Paul Greening, GCVO 1981-1985
- Rear-Admiral Sir John Garnier 1985-1990
- Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Woodard 1990-1995
Commodore Royal Yacht
- Commodore Anthony Morrow 1995-1997
Previous Royal Yachts
- HMY Osborne (1880s)
- HMY Fairy (1840s)
- HMY Victoria and Albert (1842-1855, scrapped 1868)
- HMY Victoria and Albert II (1855-1900)
- HMY Victoria and Albert III (1901-1937)
- List of Royal Yachts of the United Kingdom
- Royal Train
- Air transport of the Royal Family and government of the United Kingdom