Plymouth Sound, or locally
just The Sound, is a bay at Plymouth in England.
west and south east corners are Penlee Point in Cornwall and Wembury Point on Devon, a distance
of about 3 nautical miles (6
km). Its northern limit is Plymouth Hoe giving a north-south distance of nearly 3 nautical
miles (6 km).
The Sound has three water entrances. The marine entrance is
from the English
Channel to the south, with a deep-water channel to the west
of the breakwater. There are two freshwater intlets: one, from
the northwest, is from the River Tamar
via the Hamoaze and Devonport Dockyard, the largest naval dockyard in western
Europe. The other, at northeast, is from the River Plym disgorrging into its narrow estuary, Cattewater harbour between Mount Batten and the Royal Citadel.
addition to ships of the Royal Navy,
large commercial vessels, including ferries to France and Spain use the
Sound from Millbay Docks. Fishing vessels use it from Sutton Harbour
beside the old town of Plymouth, called the Barbican.
There are marinas
Sutton Harbour, Mount Wise in the Hamoaze and at Turnchapel
centre of the Sound, midway between Bovisand Bay and Cawsand Bay, is Plymouth Breakwater, which creates a harbour protecting anchored ships from the frequent
is around long, stands in
around 11 metres / 36 feet of water and was built by John Rennie
and Joseph Whidbey
starting in 1812. The
breakwater has a 23 metre / 75 foot tall lighthouse
on its western end and a 9 metre / 30
foot tall beacon with a spherical cage on top at the eastern end.
It is said that the cage is a life saving device designed to keep
wrecked sailors from drowning in the huge waves of a storm on the
Island is 400 metres long and around 100 metre wide and
situated at the north of the Sound.
It was fortified to
defend Drake's Channel, the only deep-water route to Devonport. The
is a shallow reef that links Drake's Island and the
Cornish mainland. At low water the depth of the Bridge can be less
than one metre but at high water it can rise to 5 metres. In
World War I
this natural barrier was
supplemented by other obstructions to prevent submarines
and small ships attacking the naval
Mount Batten, a former Royal Air
Force flying boat and search and rescue base, is located at the
northeast corner of the Sound. T. E. Lawrence
was stationed here as Aircraftsman
years, the Sound has been defended by Drakes Island, Picklecombe
Fort, the Breakwater
Bovisand, Staddon Fort and Stamford Fort.
were built at Bovisand before
existed to supply men-o-war
anchored in the Sound with fresh water.
Joseph Whidbey supervised the building of the Breakwater from
, from which there is a
view down the full length of the breakwater.
The Sound has been the site of a number of aircraft crashes and
Fort Bovisand, Kendal McDonald ISBN 0-9528637-1-5