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Top 'prise as survey ship impresses in London

HMS Enterprise in London
26 June 2019
After 26 engagements and events in just six days, survey ship HMS Enterprise has left the capital star struck. The hydrographic vessel has returned to open waters to continue her scientific and navigational mission following a high-profile visit to London’s docklands.

Enterprise was used for pretty much every opportunity imaginable during her time at West India Dock from celebrating the role of women in engineering to receptions (including one of the first official engagements for new First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin), tours by the general public, participation in historic ceremonies and ensuring the British people were fully informed about the weather.

A record number of visitors toured Enterprise when she opened her gangway to the public: more than 3,000 people signed up for the ticket-only experience which gave them chance to chat with crew, get their hands on some kit, try on fire-fighting uniforms – despite the searing temperatures – and imagine commanding the ship from her bridge.

Sailors left Enterprise behind and travelled three and a half miles upstream to take part in an ancient ceremony in the grounds of the Tower of London.

Back in the 14th Century, any ship visiting the capital was at the mercy of the monarch who demanded payment for the privilege of sailing up the Thames – normally some of the goods they were transporting, today it’s morphed into the ‘Ceremony of the Dues’, performed in full view of tourists to one of London’s most popular attractions.

Enterprise Commanding Officer Commander Cecil Ladislaus led his sailors through the Tower’s West Gate, where they were challenged for entry by the Yeoman Gaoler armed with his famous axe.

Beefeaters (aka Yeoman Warders) escorted the sailors through the tower grounds to music from a Corps of Drums before handing over their tax or dues – in the form of a barrel of rum – to the tower’s Constable General the Lord Houghton on Tower Green, the historic site of ten executions, including three former queens of England.

Another historic site the sailors visited was the Guildhall to see the Armed Forces Day flag hoisted at the beginning of a week of events building up to the national celebration of the nation’s military in Salisbury on Saturday June 29.

Plymouth-based Enterprise – which counts the captain of the Starship Enterprise, veteran Star Trek actor William Shatner, among her fans – helps update navigational charts used by mariners the world over, including the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, as well as collecting reams of other data – water temperature, depth, salinity, seabed composition and much more, data which has a direct impact on operations by warships and submarines.

She has only returned to her core mission fairly recently, having devoted much of her time to the people trafficking mission in the Mediterranean, attempting to stop the flow of illegal migrants from Africa into Europe and rescuing those in need, codenamed Operation Sophia.

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