Marchwood Military Port

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Marchwood Military Port
Marchwood Military Port.JPG
Marchwood Military Port.
Country UK
Location Marchwood,
Coordinates 50°53′36″N 1°25′20″W / 50.893282°N 1.422268°W / 50.893282; -1.422268
Opened 1943
Owned by HM Government
Employees 150 civilian
600 military

Marchwood Military Port (MMP) or Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre (SMC) is a military port located in Marchwood, Southampton on the south coast of the UK, and the base of 17 Port & Maritime Regiment Royal Logistic Corps. The port was built in 1943 to aid in the D-Day assault on Normandy in 1944 and has since been used to support the Falklands War.

Marchwood is also the base-port for several Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships.

History and facilities[edit]

The port in 2004

The port was built in 1943 with the intent that it should be used to aid the Normandy landings in 1944 by shipping men and equipment across to the beaches, the port was also used to support the occupying forces following the success of the landings.[1] At this time the port was relatively small, with just one jetty.[2]

The port now consists of three main jetties.

Falkland Jetty (berths 3 and 4), the largest, is 220m long[citation needed] and 33m wide, with two dolphins and is capable of accepting vessels up to 25,000 tonnes. It has two sophisticated class 100 ro-ro link span ramps facility capable of handling vessels with various ramp configurations. There are two 32 tonne cranes with container handling ability. The two berths are maintained to 8m+ (low water).

Mulberry Jetty (berths 1 and 2), built during World War II, is 190m long,[citation needed] has rail access and is capable of accepting vessels of up to 8k tonnes with limited Ro/Ro facilities. It is named for the mulberry harbours used on the French coast in the post D-Day logistics. The berths are maintained at 4m.

Gunwharf Jetty (berths 5 and 6) is a subsidiary jetty of 117m that is used to berth military landing craft and smaller vessels. The berths are maintained at 4 and 3 m respectively.[3]

There is also a small ship maintenance facility with a boatlift rated 225 tonnes.

The waters are dredged to 8m so the whole complex can accept the majority of ships likely to be used by MoD. Dolphins at the seaward end makes it easier for longer ships to use. The Directorate of Land Service Ammunition (DLSA) has granted the port a licence to handle ammunition/explosive on the main jetty. The port has a limited capacity to handle containerised cargo within the 289 acre estate.[4]

The port again found use during the Falklands War, when it was employed to transport men and equipment to the Falklands in a rather unnoticed fashion, as it had during the Normandy invasion.[5] The port aided Operation Corporate as a launching point for the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Round Table class landing ships, armoured vehicles were also transported from Marchwood to the Europic Ferry (nicknamed by the Marchwood personnel as "erotic fairy") via Mexeflote and then on to the Falklands. The port also became a massive rally area for cargo and armoured vehicles which were subsequently forwarded to Southampton for transportation to the Falklands as required.[2] At the conclusion of the war the port was used to receive 80 war dead, who were kept in the cargo shed, before being processed and returned to their families for funerals.[2]

After the Falklands it became clear to the UK government that the base in Marchwood had been highly important in the war, and so the government spent £18million on upgrading and improving the base, which only had a single jetty at the time.[4] The Quartermaster General, appointed after the war, commented on the previous makeshift style of the port, saying that when he was assigned the job he was told to "get the Army some decent boots and sort out Marchwood", to which Major Robin Barton replied "At Marchwood, General, we are not too fussed about the boots".[2]

Nonetheless, the port was expanded considerably, with administration blocks being put in, as well as a Falklands deep water jetty, and training facilities. The water front is left clear for cargo and loading.[2] The expansion of the port has become subject of a short documentary, meant for civil engineers.[6]

In 2000 the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) was questioned as to whether or not they would support the implementation of a container port and access roads in Marchwood to improve security there, to which the MoD replied that they had no objections,[7] and the expansion has since been implemented.[2]

The base also contains a small standard gauge diesel powered railway network that transports freight and occasionally passengers around the site, it is connected to the mainline network allowing freight trains to access the port and is regularly used to transport military vehicles and materiel to and from the port.

The port is now used largely by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, as a base for their ships, including their amphibious ships, but it is also still employed for military cargo and personnel movement.[5]

The site is named McMullen Barracks and the operating unit is 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps.

In October 2010, it was reported that the port is to be sold to a private operator, but that no firm decision had been made regarding the future use of the port by the military.[8]


  1. ^ "Ports and Harbours of the UK; Marchwood". Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Puddefoot, Geoff (2009). The Fourth Force. Major Robin H G Barton, MBE. Appendix 4: Seaforth. ISBN 1-84832-046-9. 
  3. ^ "Ports and Harbours of the UK; Marchwood". Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "17 Port & Maritime Regiment RLC". MOD. 10 April 2011. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Marchwood: An unknown hero". BBC. 16 April 1999. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Marchwood Military Port". Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Marchwood Military Port". Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Yandell, Chris (23 October 2010). "Jobs fears as Marchwood military port goes up for sale". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 

External links[edit]