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HMS Neptune field gun public run goes with a bang!

26 May 2016
Usually the roar of gunfire would send people in the other direction, but members of the public flocked to the sound when they headed to Helensburgh’s Pier Car Park to witness this year’s HMS Neptune Field Gun team in action.

It was all part of the team’s public run, a demonstration of an age old naval tradition which stretches back to the Boer War and involves disassembling, reassembling and blank-firing an antique naval gun in as quick a time as possible. 

The 18-strong team of sailors from HM Naval Base Clyde have been training hard for the annual Field Gun competition at HMS Collingwood and were in Helensburgh to prove their skill and drum up community support for their effort. 

Around 200 spectators attended the event, including children from local schools, St Joseph’s Primary and Rhu Primary.

Captain Craig Mearns, Captain of HMS Neptune, said:  “It was fantastic to have so much local community support for HMS Neptune Field Gun team.  Several local schools attended along with members of Helensburgh Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Argyll and Bute Council. 

“Their support means a tremendous amount to the Royal Navy.  The HMS Neptune Field Gunners aren’t just the Naval Base’s team, their Helensburgh’s team too.  Hopefully the encouragement they received today will spur them on to an exceptional performance during the Championships in June.”  

The modern competition helps fosters attributes and values still important to today’s Royal Navy

Captain Craig Mearns

The physically demanding Field Gun run is a naval tradition which has its roots in 1899 and the second Boer War.

During the conflict, the British Army found themselves under siege and a Naval Brigade came to their rescue.

The plucky sailors unloaded six half-ton field guns from a ship and transported them over many miles of rugged South African terrain.  Reaching Ladysmith, the guns were then reassembled and used to lift the siege and rescue the desperate soldiers.

Today’s Field Gun competition is held each year at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire, with teams from military establishments all around the country entering to test their fitness and mettle.

The Neptune team, which is sponsored by Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems (LMUK SS), will join the other competitors at Fareham in June for the big event. 

“The modern competition helps fosters attributes and values still important to today’s Royal Navy,” explained Captain Mearns.  

“Values such as teamwork, courage, discipline and physical fitness are as vital now as they were in the past.  

"These are the things that make our men and women so special and makes the Royal Navy among the best in the world.”

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