SHOPS and bars reported a huge boost over the weekend after hundreds of German sailors arrived in Portsmouth.
The companies of three warships came ashore on Friday and quickly set about taking advantage of the city’s sights, shops and pubs.
Local businesses reported an increase in trade and said the well-behaved German visitors had acted like ‘absolute gentlemen’.
The Royal Navy even raised the German flag at Semaphore Tower on Friday to signal the arrival of new German frigate, FGS Hessen, at Portsmouth Naval Base.
It was followed by large tanker ship FGS Frankfurt Am Main and another frigate, FGS Emden.
The 700 sailors will depart this morning for the task group’s next destination after leaving Wilhelmshaven base last month.
Seaman Christoph Schnaithmann, 20, from Stutgart, said: ‘This was my first time in England and I had a great time.
‘I love to travel outside of Germany, it’s one of the reasons I joined the navy. Portsmouth’s naval history is very impressive, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior are brilliant.’
Officer in training Elias Fischer, 19, added: ‘There is a real mix of buildings, all the old and new ones are side-by-side and mixed together, like the Spinnaker Tower next to the old dockyard.
‘We went to see a football game because we wanted to watch English fans. We heard they like to do a lot of singing, whereas German supporters usually just cheer and shout.’
Seaman Tobias Kleinig, 19, from Cologne, said: ‘We had a look round the shops and the city, Gunwharf Quays is great. Everyone has been friendly.’
The sailors are on a seven-month deployment where they will train with allies in Western Europe, the US and Canada.
Gunwharf Quays centre director Peter Emery said he had been delighted to see German sailors flooding into his centre’s shops and bars.
He said: ‘The spend per head is very high because they are coming into a port and want to spend a bit of money on designer gear.
‘They’ve also been down on the waterfront enjoying the bars and restaurants and, just like when the Americans came over, it has really been a huge boost for us.
‘And they are absolute gentlemen and we have had no trouble of any kind at all. They have really represented their country well.’
General manager of the Customs House pub in Gunwharf, David Hughes, said: ‘There have been lots in and we’ve really noticed the difference.
‘They’ve been great and the visit has been great for business – as I’m sure it must have been for businesses throughout the city.’
Barmaid at the Ship Anson on The Hard Rachel Treverton said: ‘They’ve been absolutely lovely. They were no trouble at all and I don’t have a bad word to say about them. They can come back any time.’