Portsmouth’s floating beast that could lift a battleship

Admiralty Floating Dock 5 in Portsmouth Dockyard carrying HMS Monarch
Admiralty Floating Dock 5 in Portsmouth Dockyard carrying HMS Monarch

Boys who became men when HMS Havant rescued thousands from Dunkirk

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Yesterday I published a photo of a floating dock entering Portsmouth Harbour in 1912 and here we see it after it came into use.

Admiralty Floating Dock AFD5 was built at Birkenhead and was known as the Portsmouth Dock. She had a capacity to lift 31,500 tons.

Admiralty Floating Dock 5 in Portsmouth Dockyard carrying HMS Monarch

Admiralty Floating Dock 5 in Portsmouth Dockyard carrying HMS Monarch

The dock spent the next two years in Portsmouth before transferring to Invergordon, Scotland, in 1914. In 1919/20 she was back in Portsmouth Dockyard, but with the imminent outbreak of the Second World War she was towed to Alexandria, Egypt.

After the war she was towed to Bermuda and stayed there until its dockyard closed in 1951. She was then towed back to Falmouth where she remained until 1966. AFC5 was then sold to Maryland Shipbuilding, Baltimore, USA, and left Britain for the last time on April 30, 1966.

On May 6 she broke in two when 400 miles off the Isles of Scilly with one half sinking. On reaching Maryland a new 231ft stern section was built onto her.

In this photo we see AFD5 lifting the 25,000-ton Orion class battleship HMS Monarch. Launched in 1910 and costing £1,888,736, Monarch had a short life because of the restrictions imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty.

A veteran of the Battle of Jutland, she was taken out of service in 1925. After being stripped of essentials in Portsmouth she was towed to a point 50 miles off the Isles of Scilly and used for target practice. Her final death roll came from the 15in guns of the battleship HMS Revenge.

Meanwhile, we take to the air for this view of the Tricorn, Market Way, Portsmouth, in 1969. It was taken by a News photographer from 1,000 feet.

I must admit, I had forgotten that Market Way used to pass to the right hand side (going out of the city) of St Agatha’s Church. At that time there seems to be a very dangerous exit from Charlotte Street into Market Way opposite the church.

At this time The Tricorn was in its element having recently been opened by Radio One DJ Jimmy Young.

Lake Road roundabout can be seen in the top left with Commercial Road running towards the right hand side.