Britannia (II) Arrival
P&O Cruises brand new 141,000 tonne Britannia arrived in Southampton on the 6th March 2015.  She is the second ship in their history to bear the name.  The original was in service between 1887-1909, weighing a mere 6061grt, which was considered large at the time, and part of the Jubilee class which included Victoria, the original Oceana and second Arcadia.  She was handed over on the 21st February, sailing from Monfalcone at just before 4pm on the 27th and stopping off in Gibraltar on the 3rd March.  It was a beautiful day for a change, sunny and bright for their first afternoon arrival since Aurora in 2000.  I thought back to the last three new build arrivals.  Arcadia in 2005 was in gales and rain, Ventura three years later in snow while Azura in 2010 was also rain and wind but slightly marred by my late mother falling at home, cutting her head open, resulting in my dad dashing off and her going to A&E.  Azura was the last new ship she saw as she was bedridden by the time Queen Elizabeth arrived for Cunard six months later.  I wished she were here today giving her thoughts on the new P&O flagship.  As we were heading across to Town Quay before she docked, we decided to skip the marina and go to Hythe pier instead.  She picked up the pilot around 10am and my first view was of her in the Solent.  It was pretty windy and the sun was in my eyes so I'm glad I managed to get her at all.  Uriah Heep, the ferry replacing Hotspur IV, was being worked on while Calypso, of Isle of Wight Pirate Tours, was sailing around.  The Americas Cup yacht for Ben Ainslie Racing, sailed out of Southampton.  One couple had come just to see the ship, having never seen an arrival before so asked lots of questions.  Britannia began to come into view around 11.55am.  Ferriby, Sarah and Alma were her escort and they headed up towards Netley to wait for her.  Ferriby was on the stern, Sarah starboard with Alma leading.  Red Falcon and Britannia had a horn battle then they hit it again as she neared the pier as well as the other side.  Like Azura when she arrived, Britannia is registered in Southampton.  With the Union Jack bow, it would be nice if she kept that and the others reflagged to the UK but she'll probably join them as Hamilton within a year.  Red Jet 4 was around too.  She went to the Middle Swinging Ground to turn at 12.55pm and very slowly edged forward as there was a couple of parachutists who would be landing in Mayflower Park.  We went to wait for the ferry then they dropped the parachutists as we crossed.  We joined Tony Weaver, his dad and Ian Grove on Town Quay to watch Britannia dock, which she had by 2pm.  Lomax was still in 104, now sporting a replacement mast.  We caught the 2.30pm ferry back.
To see the photos of Britannia with Oceana on the 9th March, click here or her sailing on the maiden voyage, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 6th March 2015
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