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From Queen Elizabeth to Queen Mary - HMS Richmond meets Cunard's flagship

28 June 2017
This week we brought you the stirring patriotic sight of the nation's future flagship sailing for the first time.

Today we bring you the stirring sight of the flagship of the Cunard Line and the nation's largest passenger vessel charging along the port beam of HMS Richmond - part of a celebration of international unity and seafaring in France.

The city of Brest has dedicated 2017 to centennial events marking the arrival of American troops. The injection of fresh blood - more than 800,000 American soldiers entered France through Brest in 1917 and 1918 - would help tip the balance in favour of the Allies against the Central Powers.

At the heart of the celebrations, a three-day naval gathering in Brittany, attended by ships from Britain (Richmond), Germany, Brazil, Ireland, the USA and the host nation.

Richmond provided a Guard and Colour Party for a formal parade inspected by Vice Admiral Emmanuel de Oliveira, Commander of the Atlantic Fleet; the admiral then invited the participating sailors to join him at his official residence for a reception.

This was an ideal opportunity for the many ships from the different navies to conduct a sail past and capture the experience on camera of meeting this impressive Cunard ship at sea.

Lt Cdr Darren Lucas

AB(Sea) Jessica-Brooke Cast, one of Richmond's Guard, said she was filled with pride at the opportunity to parade the White Ensign through the streets of one of France's great naval cities as well as the "great opportunity to work with sailors from our fellow navies".

The parade on land was mirrored by one at sea as the ships staged a parade through Brest Harbour before firing a 21-gun salute in honour of Admiral de Oliveira.

The parade was, said Richmond's CO Cdr Antony Crabb RN, "a superb collection of ships and sailors, joined to celebrate our good relations and commemorate a date of historical importance to all participants of the Great War."

Richmond's final day across the Channel was spent escorting RMS Queen Mary 2 - 150,000 tonnes, upwards of 4,000 passengers and crew - to the starting line for a unique race from St Nazaire to New York.

Organised to further celebrate transatlantic links, her competitors for this challenge were some of the largest and fastest ocean going trimarans in the world. (Despite her size the cruise ship is capable of 30kts flat out.)

"This was an ideal opportunity for the many ships from the different navies to conduct a sail past and capture the experience on camera of meeting this impressive Cunard ship at sea," said Lt Cdr Darren Lucas, Richmond's weapon engineer officer.

Having concluded her commemorative and escort duties Richmond sailed with the German Frigate Lübeck for a joint anti-submarine exercise before returning to UK waters to conduct security patrols.

Next up for the Portsmouth-based frigate are weapons trials in the South Coast Exercise Areas before returning to her home base for a week of maintenance before heading back out to sea for further trials and training.

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