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HMS Albion celebrates six-year stint on the front line

27 July 2023
The hardest working capital ship in the Royal Navy is heading for a well-earned rest at the end of six years of intensive operations around the world.

For the past half dozen years amphibious flagship HMS Albion has sailed the world, initially to the Far East in 2018, then spending most winters and springs in the Arctic and Baltic with autumn deployments to the Mediterranean.

The assault ship returned home to Plymouth today with families and friends aboard, having just completed a mission to the Baltic with stops on the way back in Den Helder to mark the 50th anniversary of the UK Netherlands Amphibious Force and in Scotland to offload ammunition.

At the munitions depot in Glen Douglas, the ship’s sponsor Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, visited and presented medals and awards to crew. She was briefed on the ship’s recent operational successes before Albion sailed to Belfast and Falmouth to bring more than 100 family members and friends aboard for the homecoming into Devonport Naval Base.

Albion will now hand over duties to sister ship HMS Bulwark.

Commanding Officer, Captain Marcus Hember, said: “It was a pleasure and a privilege to welcome The Princess Royal back on board Albion after what has been a demanding operational programme over the past 12 months.

“Our operations have been at the forefront of the UK contribution to Northern European security at a difficult time, working alongside partners and allies.

“At this end of this intense operational period, it was great to welcome friends and family on board for the final leg of our deployment before my people return home to enjoy some well-earned rest over the summer period.”

Over her six years as UK and then amphibious flagship, Albion’s sailors and Royal Marines worked tirelessly with NATO allies and partners across European waterways, promoting peace and stability and tightening UK bonds with countless nations.

The ship’s specialist role is to bring the punch of the Royal Marines ashore where they are needed most, using the range of landing craft and raiding boats stowed in her cavernous dock to land commandos and their kit.

Albion has spent the recent years leading the Littoral Response Group (North): a force – centred on amphibious ships and commandos – which is able to deploy across Europe’s waterways and react to crises and world events.

Over the past four months of their most recent deployment alone, Albion’s crew of 350 have chomped their way through 30,000kg of potatoes, 5,000 chicken breasts, 500 litres of mayonnaise and eaten over 50,000 eggs.

More importantly, they have visited Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Netherlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Finland, forging bonds with regional allies and clocking up more than 45,000 miles along the way.

Leading Weapons Engineering Technician ‘Lewis’ Hutchins, HMS Albion’s Ordnance and Magazines Maintainer, said: “I’ve found the whole deployment thoroughly enjoyable. I had the opportunity to take part in the sailing regatta championship during Kiel week, representing HMS Albion, and also spent some time working with the Swedish Navy on their new raiding craft during our port visit to Stockholm. I’m now looking forward to returning home and catching up with friends and family in Plymouth.”

Leading Seaman Peter Carson, Above Water Tactical Operator, added: “I have gained valuable operational experience, which will set me in good stead for my promotion course in the near future. I’m now eagerly looking forward to getting back home to Scotland to spend leave with friends and family.”

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