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Simulated Boat Collision on the Thames

Simulated Boat Collision on the Thames

Wapping noticed noisy helicopters and searchlights last Thursday evening, but this wasn’t just a simple exercise and unlike previous simulations it’s the first night exercise involving all the major emergency services.

The Wapping View

Many thanks to Wapping resident Mark Baynes who shares his pictures and account of the dramatic collision that took place on the evening of Thursday 30 September 2010:

Operation Orange Tree

Last Thursday night I went down to St Katharines Dock to see the emergency services simulating a collision between a broken down commercial vessel and a passenger boat.

The operation involved the Metropolitan Police, the Marine Unit based at Wapping, the London Ambulance Service, the London Fire Brigade, Tower and Gravesend RNLI and the Coast Guard. Overall coordination was by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Fortunately for all involved the weather was very mild compared to the torrential rain of the previous day.

At around 8.30pm the operation started and the first thing the police had to do as they erected a cordon was to explain to two large groups of Spanish tourists that it was not for real. The passenger vessel was stationed opposite Butlers Wharf (see photo) while the commercial vessel – complete with simulated smoke – was just next to HMS President.

The road outside HMS President was full of various emergency service control vehicles, which reflected what seemed to be the main purpose of the operation, ensuring that all the different services involved could communicate and co-ordinate with each other.

The use of the latest high tech devices was evident as a panel on the side of a fire brigade control vehicle opened to reveal a real time display of the area around the incident. Two helicopters used thermal imaging to search for survivors in the water as well as powerful searchlights.

Divers from the police Marine Unit were first in the water, then the Marine Unit launches started ferrying passengers from the commercial vessel to the dock. Volunteers acting as survivors were brought ashore then processed according to their injuries. Most seemed remarkably healthy….

RNLI Lifeboat

Overall the exercise was a very calm affair. But then with the amount of real life large scale incidents the emergency services deal with that should come as no surprise.

I am sure some residents were a little disconcerted by the two helicopters flying over Wapping for an hour or so, but if the day ever comes that any of us ever need rescuing we will be only too grateful that they practiced beforehand.

Many thanks to the various members of the emergency services for providing me access to the dock.

Mark Baynes

London SE1 reported on the collision and shared an RNLI video of the operation.

What did you see or hear Operation Orange Tree from Wapping?

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  • Neil

    Nicely taken photos, particularly the the one by HMS President. Shot in RAW I presume?

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  • http://www.baynes.co.uk Mark Baynes

    Glad you liked the photos – to be honest i think I might have made it sound a lot more exciting than it was! :)

  • Adrian

    Ah, so that was what all the noise was about!
    Great photos and write up Mark, thank you for sharing, a very interesting read too and nice change from the local politics :)

  • http://www.paulbrockphotography.co.uk Brock

    Thanks for the report and photos Mark. Was going to take a peek but too lazy on the night!