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The Invergordon Archive

Dry Dock (Floating Dock) Casting Off
The Invergordon Archive
Dry Dock (Floating Dock) Casting Off

Tugs manoeuvring the Dry Dock just outside the harbour. The picture is dated 27th May 1920. Another view of the Dry Dock can be seen in picture #369 and the accomodation ships seen in that picture can also be seen here on the far right.
Picture added on 19 September 2004
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Floating Docks
On the 5th August 1919, an explosion occurred on board the ex-German battleship Baden whilst in dry dock at Invergordon and Lieut Edmund Geoffrey Abbott was awarded the Albert Medal - later George Cross for his action at the time.
I am researching this incident - please contact if you have any ideas.
Added by Marion Hebblethwaite on 22 April 2005
Precisely when Invergordon lost its floating dock I don't know, but I suppose this pic might show the floating dock departing Invergordon for the last time, bound I think for Portsmouth after the war.

The floating dock at Invergordon was part of a belated response to the Dreadnought maintenance problem in the north, pending completion of Rosyth dockyard (which I think only came fully on-line circa mid-to-late 1916, at least for the heavy ships). It seems that until Rosyth was up and running there was no docking facility in the north capable of taking the dreadnoughts. Moorings for the floating dock at Invergordon were apparently put down sometime after Sep 1913, after the govt had been pestered in Parliament on this subject for the best part of what must have been seven long years...

It seems likely that Invergordon's floating dock was sourced from Portsmouth, where it would be returned in the 1920s, as part of the process of "demobilising" Invergordon after the war, but there are also other pre-war references to a floating dock for "Cromarty" being sourced from the Medway... Both Portsmouth and the Medway had received "dreadnought-capable" floating docks in the late 1900s (at about £140k each, about £40k more than a large destroyer), and continued questions in Parliament regarding the need for a floating dock at Invergordon/Cromarty had been a thorn in the (Lib) govt's side since 1908 - within two years of HMS Dreadnought entering service. Rosyth dockyard was already under development by then, though at a fairly leisurely pace, and work at Rosyth was subsequently "accelerated" by the govt - no doubt in part due to the constant stream of questions they were receiving in Parliament on this subject.

According to an annotated chart of the area in Jane's Fighting Ships (1919), the floating dock at Invergordon had a capacity of 33, 000 tons, and the dock itself required 36 feet of water in which to float. HMS Erin's (picture #369) measurements were (wl) 553', (oa) 559' 9" x 91' 7" x 28' 5" (load), and displacement 22,780 t / 25,250 t (deep load), which seems to indicate that to float Erin in or out would require something like 36 + 28.5 = 64.5 feet = 11 fathoms of water. According to the same chart there are 14 fathoms on the directly opposite side of the firth, off "Chapelton Point", so perhaps the dock would have been moved into deep water to allow it to be "sunk" while loading or unloading the heavy ships.

On the same page there is a reference to there being a second "Dreadnought" floating dock at Invergordon (which seems strange, unless there were two large docks at Invergordon at one time, or perhaps one there and another at Cromarty...) and also a reference to a smaller floating dock at Invergordon suitable for light cruisers and torpedo boat destroyers.

Finally, there is an "Errata" on the same page, stating: "East Sutor now North Sutor"; "West Sutor now South Sutor", so the original (undated) chart, which refers to "East Sutor" and "West Sutor", must date from before 1919, and before these name-changes were made - quite a few years earlier. In Parliament they refer to North & South Sutor from 1913 onwards, and before 1913 only seem to refer to "the sutors" - the politicians don't appear to refer to East or West Sutor at all.

All a bit odd, really, as there were quite a few politicians at the time with a naval background, who (one would have thought) would at least have known the names of the Sutors from their charts...
Added by Jon Summers on 21 February 2009
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Floating Docks

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