Deutschland squeezes through West India ship lock for Olympics test run

Canary Wharf welcomed the largest ever ship to berth in South Quay last Thursday.

The MS Deutschland cruise liner squeezed its way through the West India ship lock in the early hours of the morning and into the quay for a 36-hour visit.

It was a practice run to get the 175 metre long vessel into the Docklands, ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games when it will return to be used by Germany’s Olympic confederation.

An impressive display of piloting did the trick as Billy Smith, British Waterways’ dockmaster and tidal locks supervisor, oversaw the operation.

There was little room for manoeuvring as the 175.3 by 23 metre wide ship was guided into the 178 by 24.4 metre lock.


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Mr Smith said: “I have worked on the River Thames and in the Docks since 1962, and have lived on the Isle of Dogs for most of my life. This is the largest ship that I have ever seen navigate through the lock.

“To fit her in we use the high tides and insist she’s brought in stern first, an unusual and interesting operation for the river pilots and the captain.

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“I’m quite pleased the tides meant this was a night time operation, as the addition of a crowd would have been extra pressure during such a technical manoeuvre.”

The Museum of Docklands in West India Quay will also be redubbed Germany House next summer as the confederation uses it as a base.

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