IT WILL be the largest flotilla of modern times.
And when 1,000 boats gather on the River Thames to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee this year, armed forces personnel from Gosport will be in the thick of it.
The Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC), based at Haslar, has been invited to send one of its biggest yachts to join in the floating celebration.
Staff at the centre are planning to take members of the navy, army and RAF to the Thames in June.
They hope to have two disabled servicemen or women on board from the rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey.
Projects officer Julian Yeardley said: ‘It’s a unique event – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
‘Something like this isn’t going to happen again.
‘We have had a lot of people who want to go coming forward.
‘We’ve got enough applicants to fill the boat four times over at this rate.
‘What we will do is have a tri-service crew of army, navy and RAF.
‘We hope to have some cadets on board as well and we’re hoping to get some people from Headley Court to join us.’
Sailors on board the centre’s Challenge 67 training yacht Endeavour will sail to St Katharine Docks near the Tower of London.
They will then join the 12-mile flotilla along with rowing boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes sailing to mark 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.
The JSASTC has taken thousands of servicemen and women sailing all over the world since its creation in 1972.
The training centre lets people gain offshore sailing qualifications. A number of vessels from Portsmouth have been chosen to take part in the flotilla.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s 32ft yacht Suhaili, which was the first boat to sail non-stop around the world, will also be there.
They will be joined by legendary sailor Alan Priddy’s futuristic boat Accomplish More, which has been specially built for a record-breaking attempt for the fastest round-the-world trip.
Also in the pageant is Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Motor Torpedo Boat 102, the British powerboat HSL 102 which was used by the RAF to rescue pilots during the Second World War, the Medusa which marked an approach to Omaha Beach on D-Day, the Spirit of Avalon yacht, tall ship TS Royalist and historic Steam Cutter 438.