The former Trinity House tender Mermaid, currently at the docks being converted into a survey vessel, has been replaced by the futuristic buoy tender Galatea (3,500 tons) which has been officially named by Her Majesty The Queen during a ceremony on the River Thames.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, The Master of Trinity House, presided over the ceremony, which was conducted aboard the vessel alongside HMS Belfast.
His Royal Highness welcomed Her Majesty and the Bishop of London onboard THV Galatea remarking that it was an historic day for Trinity House in its 500-year history.
Her Majesty officially named Galatea by announcing: "I name this ship Galatea. May God bless her and all who sail in her", before releasing a bottle of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvée champagne on the side of the vessel.
In February 2007, the Duke of Edinburgh became the longest serving Master of Trinity House in its 500-year history. Sir Winston Churchill was an Elder Brother of Trinity House until his death in 1965. Pol Roger was his favourite champagne.
The Corporation of Trinity House and the Port of Falmouth has an historic relationship dating back over 200 years. Falmouth became a Trinity House Pilotage Outport in 1809, shortly after St Mawes pilot Henry Vincent was granted the first Trinity House pilots' license.
Trinity House lighthouse tenders were once a familiar sight in South West waters before modern technology, in the way of radio telemetry and helicopters, made the lighthouse keepers redundant which in turn led to a reduction in the number of tenders. Nowadays the tenders mainly look after the UK's buoyage system.
THV Galatea is the second ship of that name in the history of the Trinity House fleet and I am sure we will see her in South West waters in the future.
The first THV Galatea was a large paddle yacht built in 1868, and served Trinity House well until 1895 as a buoy-working, lighthouse-tending, inspection yacht. She was named in honour of HMS Galatea which had recently completed a round-the-world voyage under the command of Queen Victoria's second son, Captain HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who was Master of Trinity House at the time.
Galatea served Trinity House throughout The Duke of Edinburgh's time as Master; and attended the commissioning of Eddystone, Wolf and most of the other lighthouses designed by Sir James Douglass. She also attended the handover of Heligoland lighthouse to Germany in 1894.
In Greek mythology, Galatea was a sea nymph who attended Poseidon (the god of the sea). She loved Acis, the shepherd son of Pan. However, Acis was killed by the jealous Cyclops Polyphemus and, with her heart broken, Galatea turned into a stream of water.
The 84.20 metre-long, Polish built Galatea boasts dynamic positioning, a large aft working deck area, integrated bridge management system and forward helicopter flight deck. She is also able to carry out additional tasks such as hydrographic surveying and wreck finding and contract commercial work.