Royal Yacht Britannia survives a leaky door

A tug boat pushes against the Royal Yacht Britannia as it sits at its berth at in Edinburgh on Friday. The yacht was listing to the starboard side after flooding occured when a sealed door let in water. (Reuters)

Some quick work by firefighters may have prevented the Royal Yacht Britannia from a nautical nightmare.

The Queen's former ship, which served the monarch for 44 years before becoming a tourist attraction, was listing to one side on Friday morning as it was being moved to dry dock from its mooring in Leith, Scotland. The 412-foot ship was due to have its hull repainted when some of the crew noticed it was taking on water.

The culprit was a leak in a door seal under the water line. Eight fire trucks with pumping equipment were quickly sent to the scene.

"When we were removing the mooring ropes this morning the ship moved four degrees to starboard," explained Bob Bownie, chief executive of the Royal Yacht Britannia. "This meant that new access watertight doors to our pontoons were below the water level. There has been a leak in the seals in those doors which was accentuating the list."

After the firefighters got the pumps going, the ship slowly retured to level and there was no permanent damage.

The yacht was being moved to dry dock for a paint job below the water line. It's the first time the ship has moved from its berth in Edinburgh in about 14 years.

Before being retired in 1997, the 59-year-old yacht had made 968 official royal voyages, covering most of the globe. It had also been a honeymoon haven for royal newlyweds, the last being Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.

The most recent royal gathering onboard was in July when the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, and Mike Tindall hosted a pre-wedding party.

On the tourist front, the Britannia enjoyed a banner year with more than 275,000 visitors in 2011.

A tug boat pulls the Royal Yacht Britannia as it leaves its berth at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh on Friday. (Reuters)



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