Portland Harbour

Portland Harbour

Portland Harbour is located beside the Isle of Portland, off Dorset, on the south coast of England. It is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. Grid reference: mmukscaled|SY685765|100|SY 685 765.

The original harbour was formed by the protection offered by the south coast of England, Chesil Beach and the Isle of Portland. This gave protection from the weather to ships from all directions except the east. King Henry VIII built Portland Castle and Sandsfoot Castle to defend this anchorage.

Construction of the modern harbour began in 1849 when the Royal Navy created a breakwater to the south of the anchorage, made of blocks from local quarries on the Isle of Portland. This was completed in 1872 and created a much larger harbour providing protection from south-easterly winds. The Verne Citadel fort, Nothe Fort, East Wear Battery, High Angle Battery and two forts on the breakwaters were also built.

In 1906, with the threat of torpedo attack from the eastern side of the anchorage, two more breakwaters were added. A further barrier against submarine attack from the south came in 1914 when HMS "Hood" was scuttled across the southern entrance to the 1848 breakwater.

The harbour is a popular location for wind surfing, diving and sailing, as Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy which will host sailing events in the 2012 Olympic Games, is located on the south-western shore of the harbour.

In addition to "Hood", there are other wrecks around the harbour:
* on the inside of the harbour, against a breakwater:
** "Countess of Erme" - barge 30 metres north of the Eastern Ship Channel
** the Spaniard - barge 50 metres south-west of the Chequered Fort
** a World War II landing craft and a Bombardon Unit, a harbour device intended for the D-Day beaches in Normandy, 50 metres north east of the curve of the south break water
* in "open" water inside the harbour:
** a Sea Vixen Royal Navy aircraft - a diver training carcass between Ferrybridge and the helicopter base
** "Himalaya" - a coal or fuel barge in the centre of the harbour

Only the second Victoria Cross ever awarded for action in the United Kingdom was posthumously bestowed on Jack Foreman Mantle who died at his post on HMS "Foylebank" during a 1940 air raid on Portland Harbour. Mantle's grave can be found in the Portland Naval Cemetery.

See also

*Bincleaves Groyne


External links

* [http://www.portland-port.co.uk/ Portland Port]
* [http://www.weymouth-pictures.co.uk/dor/por/har/pic_harbour.htm Pictures of Portland Harbour]
* [http://www.naval-history.net/WW2Memoir%20-%20Foyle%20Bank1%20-%20Palmer%20BEM.htm Coxswain Edward Palmer, awarded BEM for rescue work following the sinking of HMS Foylebank in Portland Harbour, July 1940]

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