The P22 gunboat left Ramsgate for good this morning (June 24) after efforts to reduce mooring fees failed.
Barry Field and John Brown, owners of the 1950s USN P22, which has a starring role in blockbuster movie Dunkirk due out this Summer, announced they would leave the harbour on June 24 due to being unable to meet mooring costs which had risen to £1,350 a month.
Efforts by county councillor Paul Messenger, Cllr Beverley Martin, Green Party member Tricia Hartley, Ramsgate mayor Trevor Shonk and local groups and businesses led by resident John Davis to raise funds to retain the ship were not enough to cover the fees.
The move was to ensure the P22 remained in Ramsgate until the end of the Summer, meaning it would be in place for the release of Dunkirk – starring actors including Kenneth Branagh and singer Harry Styles – on July 21.
The P22 left Ramsgate this morning and was caught on film by resident Denise Bottali as it made its final exit from the Royal Harbour. It will stop at Sandwich Marina, owned by Mr Field, before moving to permanent moorings at Sandwich Quay on Tuesday.
Disappointed county councillor Paul Messenger said: “It’s a sad day for Ramsgate Harbour, a sad day for Ramsgate, and a sad day for the community I represent.
Local school children will now not get the opportunity live, breath and touch history, local veterans will now not get the chance of sea trips, tourists to Ramsgate will now not get to see an iconic American Naval vessel ( the only afloat and in working order throughout Europe).
“The owner was/is prepared to offer this wonderful vessel for the benefit of Ramsgate but it’s now Dover’s win and Ramsgate’s loss folks – I’m gutted! I’m sorry but the boat owner cannot afford the £1300 per month mooring fees levied by TDC.”
A reception will be held Tuesday afternoon by Sandwich and Dover councils to welcome the craft.
Sandwich and Dover councils will provide the P22 with a secure walk-down pontoon, will make arrangements for a special showing of the Dunkirk movie in the town and are aiming to give a £1,000 grant towards the £2,000 per year berthing costs.
Mr Davis, who runs the Ramsgate Action Group, said he and others will continue to make efforts to bring the P22 to Ramsgate, even part time, and hope to be able to set up a Friends group covering both the town and Sandwich, to support the gunboat.
The P22 is expected to return to Ramsgate for future events.
The USN P22 was built by German shipbuilders as part of a fleet that patrolled the River Rhine during the Cold War. The craft is the only one of 23 built that is still afloat.