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Step into the future at Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

Esvagt SOV

A rare chance to step on board a modern offshore support vessel is among the attractions at Great Yarmouth’s Maritime Festival.

The annual event is a popular showcase of seafaring heritage, with vintage ships visiting the town’s historic quayside.

But this year a brand new ship will also be moored up and hosting visitors.

The stunning looking 83m-long offshore Service Operation Vessel with an airliner-shaped sleek “nose” is owned by Danish shipping company Esvagt.

It will be among the stars of the show at the festival on Saturday and Sunday September 10 and 11 – fresh from its naming ceremony on the Friday.

The ship, built in Poland and equipped in Norway, will be used at the nearby Dudgeon windfarm 20 miles off Cromer this autumn.

It has room for 40 turbine technicians who will live on board and will be transferred to the turbines via a special gangway system.

A dozen people at a time will be able to make the trips around the Esvagt vessel, from 10.25am on Saturday and 10.15am on Sunday – but spaces will be very limited. Visitors should pre-book the tours online in the eTicket section.

The flagship visiting vessel at this year’s Maritime Festival is the impressive Earl of Pembroke three-masted sailing ship, which has been used in movies and TV series including Hornblower and Treasure Island. Visitors who want to beat the queues can book a ‘FastTrack’ ticket online at

There is also a homecoming of the Regal Lady pleasure boat which was built at Great Yarmouth and ran sea and river trips, helped in the Dunkirk evacuation and is now based at Scarborough. She will be running cruises to the Britannia Pier and back.

Other moored vessels at the festival are:

• RV Belgica – Belgian research vessel built in 1984 manned by the Belgian Navy, still in active service.

• Leila – a 12m Victorian racing cutter built in 1892 and now used as a sail training ship for young people in Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Southwold.

• Albatros – an 18m long tug built in Holland in 1938, which saw war service as an ice breaker and was taken by the Germans in 1940 as war booty to patrol canals.

• Laura Moncur lifeboat – 1960s Watson class former RNLI boat now privately-owned and restored.

• Samarbeta – the all-weather modern day Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI lifeboat. The name of the Trent class vessel is Swedish for “working together”

• MTB102 – a 1937 motor torpedo boat which saw action in the English Channel from 1939-40. She was refurbished by a film company for the Michael Caine film The Eagle has Landed in 1976.

• Lydia Eva – Great Yarmouth’s restored old herring drifter – the last surviving steam one – hosting tours at £2 adults, children free.

The river will also be the stage for a freestyle jet ski display, with riders doing backflips and barrel rolls, creating fountains and even going under water with “submarine” tricks.

There will also be a busy programme of folk and shanty music on three stages, a vintage mobile cinema showing maritime-themed films, street entertainers, brass band, military reenactors, children’s entertainers, arts and crafts.

Organiser Aileen Mobbs said: “This year’s festival has a great mix of modern and vintage vessels, traditional seafaring heritage and dramatic jet ski skills. It promises to be a weekend with something to suit all the family.”

The Festival attracts around 30,000 to Great Yarmouth and is staged by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District as part of its drive to hold events which attract visitors and spending to the area to boost the local economy.

BID board member Lyndon Bevan added: “The Maritime Festival is a major event in our calendar and a great way to introduce visitors to the importance of the sea and shipping to our past, present and future.”