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Taking a view: as the bubbly smashes on Pharos's bow, it was the yard's workers who had the best view as the ship entered the water

source: Safety at Sea International (SASI), March, 2006 issue

It was cold in Poland last month when the UK's Princess Royal launched Pharos - a new multi-purpose tender for Scotland's Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) - at the Gdansk Stocznia Remontowa yard.
The NLB had invited SASI's managing editor to join a lavish two-day celebration during which we heard from NLB chairman Peter Mackay tell us about Scotland's long links with Poland during a sumptuous black-tie dinner and again while we waited for the Princess to work her magic on the bottle of naturally chilled champagne. Had the launch taken place a week earlier, the bubbly would have been frozen.
As the bottle smashed, we all saw the ship slide sideways into the water. But who had the best view? Was it the VIPs, on their podium, covered in case the threatened snow became more than a dusting? Perhaps it was the press photographers, corralled into a pen next to the red carpet. They certainly had a good view of the speeches, but would they see much of the ship once it slid away from them?
The platform party, raised on their dais, could at least see the water at the bottom of the slipway. But standing even higher than they and closer to the ways was a fourth group of onlookers. It somehow seemed right that, in the town where democracy started its journey across the old Warsaw Pact, it was the yard's workforce who had the best view. And SASI joined them.

Copyright 2005 Remontowa