Does anyone actually know why it was / possibly still is common to anchor Warships within the Solent? Was it the only place outside of Portsmouth / Southampton docks to anchor them or was there another reason for it?
I was based in Portsmouth on the Type 23 Frigate HMS Lancaster between 1996 and 1999. Most of the time you see ships at Anchor in the Solent they are either on trials, exercises etc and are just at anchor overnight in sheltered water so that you don't need to keep a full crew on watch or, the ship is waiting to enter the harbour through the narrows.
RN ships entering Portsmouth are generally accompanied by a tug to assist and a pilot. Both cost money therefore it is cheaper to enter harbour during the working day.
Picture the scene on a ship that has been away for 9 months, gets back to port at 6 in the evening and then has to anchor a few hundred yards from the bright lights of Southsea. The ship will have to wait until 8am the following morning to go alongside.
This makes sense though the research myself and Member Rusty_S did showed the 3 warships were either a "Receiving Ship", on Partol Duty or were laid up at anchor. Nevertheless, thank you for the info and it's fascinating to know you served on HMS Lancaster!
(Note: Warships in Photo not 100% certain but most likely on what is available)
Laying up ships in sheltered water is still common practice today. RN warships laid up awaiting sale or disposal are normally moored to bouys in Fareham Creek inside Portsmouth harbour.
The other thing to remember is that the RN had more ships than berths back in the good old days. Plus the fact that to raise steam to a good length of time. By keeping several ships at anchor 'on tick over' so to speak, you would have some ships ready to deploy at a moments notice.
It is highly unlikely that a ship of the size of the Royal Oak would have been on patrol duty. Most harbour areas were looked after by picket boats and small patrol craft.
Unfortunately, Now I know the boat travelling past Titanic ISN'T Beken Of Cowes Photographic boat but a speeding Picket Boat (unless Beken himself managed to hop on one to catch the photos...) The search continues...
Better I found this out now instead of several years later once I accidentally publish incorrect info. I not going to go down the same path as Senan Molony or Walter Lord (As least not intentionally)! On the bright side, I found out Beken possibly used a Motor Launch instead around this time so I just need to mention this instead.