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You are here: PortCities Southampton > Life of a Port > How a port comes to life > Ports At War > Ports And Convoys
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Ports At War


Ports and convoys

A problem ports had to face in wartime was due to ships having to sail in convoys so that they could be protected from enemy action.  Convoys included large numbers of ships, anything up to a hundred or more. All the ships in a convoy arrived at once, needing to be unloaded, refuelled and sometimes repaired. The port was therefore put under great strain at times, whilst at others it could be quiet. The congestion in ports caused by the convoy system actually caused more delays than losses did through enemy action.

To help cope with this problem, much unloading of ships was done on the River Clyde in Scotland. This had the advantage of being relatively remote from German airfields. However, there were not enough dock facilities to cope. Therefore, much cargo handling was done with ships at anchor. As a result, large numbers of dockworkers were moved to the Clyde. Many small craft were also sent there to ferry cargo from ship to shore.

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