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HMS Richmond s Capital visit

HMS Richmond’s Capital visit
HMS Richmond recently had the privilege of paying a special visit to the heart of Britain’s capital. After a challenging 6 hour, 65 mile transit, planned and timed to perfection, Richmond glided into West India Quay, Canary Wharf at 4pm on Friday 12 May.

Her arrival marked the first time in three years that the Anti-Submarine Warfare Frigate had made the tricky pilotage up the Thames, and this visit held significant ceremonial importance.

Upholding a mariner’s tradition dating back as far as the 14th century, Monday 15 May saw HMS Richmond, her Commanding Officer, Commander Antony Crabb, and the Ship’s Company march to the Tower of London, where they presented their ‘Dues’ to the Lieutenant of the Tower, Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall.

The ‘Ceremony of the Dues’ reflects a tradition of merchant and Naval ships seeking protection from the Tower’s heavily armed fortress, which demanded a toll from all passing vessels in return. It was this toll – a barrel of fortified wine suspended beneath an oar carried by the Cask Party made up of Leading Physical Training Instructor Kennett and Leading Marine Engineer Atkins – which passed through London on its way to Tower Green to be presented to the Lieutenant of the Tower.

While the toll varied depending on the nature of the ships’ cargo, for Royal Navy vessels the tradition of providing a rum-like wine survived. The Ship’s Company were then fortunate enough to be invited for refreshments within the Tower’s walls, where they were able to witness HM Band of the Royal Marines beating the retreat, who had earlier led the Ship’s Platoons along the marching route.

It was an immense privilege to take part in the ceremony of the dues and an unforgettable experience.

Sub Lieutenant Eaton, Officer In Charge of the Cask Party

The Ceremony provided a fantastic opportunity for Richmond to uphold a strong naval tradition and for the public to see her Ship’s Company in their finest No. 1 uniform. Having conducted an overseas operational deployment in the previous year and with a busy programme conducting Maritime Security Operations around the UK, the men and women of HMS Richmond relished the opportunity to parade through the nation’s capital and show the public the men and women behind the Warship.

After only a few months in the RN, Sub Lieutenant Eaton had the honour of being the Officer in charge of the Cask Party. He said, “It was an immense priviledge to take part in the ceremony of the dues and an unforgettable experience. The sound of the Royal Marines Band bouncing off the stone walls and cobbled streets of the Tower of London, combined with the crowds of tourists and well wishers made this a truly spectacular occasion that you only get to sample by being a member of the Armed Forces.”

The visit was not just about the glamour and pomp of the Ceremony at the Tower of London it also provided the ships company of Richmond with the opportunity to show off their ship to the general public. Saturday 13 May saw the ship open its gangway to the public for a Ship Open to Visitors. Those lucky enough to get on board were treated to an even more hands-on look at what the men and women do aboard HMS Richmond.

With over 1,500 people registering to have a look around the ship, many of whom went around more than once, the ship was abuzz with members of the public on the weather deck.  With stances from all departments and a number of wholeship activities, visitors were able to try out the fire fighting systems, pick up weapons and talk to members of the ship’s company about everything from warfighting to accommodation.

At the same time, Richmond opened her doors to a number of local groups including Sea Cadets, CCF and other Navy-affiliated organisations from Tooting and Newham to Croydon. Shown around by Young Officers still undergoing training, these groups got an even more in-depth insight into life aboard a modern Warship, visiting the Bridge, Operations Room and other vital compartments from which the Ship is run.

These tours provide a critical opportunity for engagement with organisations associated with the Royal Navy and allow the young members of such groups the chance to experience a fully capable warship alongside.

Later, that evening, HMS Richmond welcomed a number of local dignitaries, current and former servicemen and women, and members of the public on board for a Reception and Capability Demonstration, followed by Ceremonial Sunset.

Guests were invited onto the Flight Deck for a reception and speeches from the Commander Naval Forces Eastern Region, Commodore David Elford and the Ship’s Commanding Officer, Commander Antony Crabb. Having heard about the Royal Navy’s busy programme, global reach, and HMS Richmond’s role in the broader concept, guests were taken on guided tours around critical areas of the ship.

Starting on the Bridge, Lieutenant McGinlay explained how the ship was run on a daily basis, the usual manning state of the Bridge and his role as one of four Officers of the Watch. Moving out on to the Bridge Wing, guests heard about the weapons systems and radars fitted to the ship whilst taking the opportunity to ask questions and take pictures of the impressive surroundings.  

The Wardroom followed, where the role of the Logistics department was explained by Lieutenant Commander Pearson and the usual question of ‘how good is the food?’ was inevitably raised. (‘Very good’ was of course the answer!).

The tour then proceeded to the Operations Room where a simulated Air Defence Exercise was conducted by a reduced team of the ship’s company, led by Principal Warfare Officer (Air) Lieutenant Skinner. The pace and complexity of modern warfare illustrated by the simulation clearly impressed the guests who had abundant questions for the team. The final stance focussed on the starboard Seaboat and its various roles as explained by Leading Seaman Fielding, before the party returned to the Flight Deck to witness Ceremonial Sunset.

The professionalism and formality embodied by Ceremonial Sunset capped a thoroughly engaging visit for both the Ship’s Officers and Senior Rates and their guests, who undoubtedly left a little more knowledgeable as to the role and contribution of the Royal Navy and HMS Richmond.

Next up for Richmond is a week of Weapon System Assessment trials intended to baseline the ships Combat System before she heads into Upkeep later in the year, followed by a high profile visit to Chatham where HMS Richmond will be participating in the 350th anniversary celebrations of the ‘Battle of Chatham’ which saw the Dutch Navy sail down the Medway and inflict an embarrassing defeat on the Navy.

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