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HMS Portland receives warm welcome in Canada

28 September 2023
Royal Navy frigate HMS Portland received a warm welcome in Canada at the first International Fleet Week in Halifax.

The submarine hunter departed her North Atlantic stomping ground, having tracked Russian Navy vessels there alongside the RAF’s P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and headed for Nova Scotia.

Arriving in Halifax, sailors lined the upper deck in procedure alpha as HMS Portland took her position next to US Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS James E Williams.

The ship’s Executive Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer First Class Paul Statham said: “I’ve never seen a welcome like it… the recognition from the Canadian Navy and people of Halifax was a highpoint in my 25 years in the navy.” 

Once in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia and a port on the Atlantic Ocean in eastern Canada, HMS Portland’s commanding officer, Commander Ed Moss-Ward, presented a crest on behalf of the HMS Belfast Association to HMCS Sackville and the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust in recognition of the ships’ shared operational history.

The Royal Canadian Navy shares battle honours with HMS Belfast for action in the Arctic, North Cape and Normandy during the Second World War. 

HMCS Sackville – a museum ship and only surviving Flower-class corvette – served with distinction as a convoy escort in the Battle of the Atlantic.

“It was a genuine privilege to attend the inaugural International Fleet Week with HMS Portland in Halifax,” said Cdr Moss-Ward.

“The city is proud of its maritime tradition and close ties to the UK, and particularly the shared history of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy. 

“The visit was an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with one of our closest NATO allies.”

HMS Portland opened the gangway to the public, including to youngsters from Techsploration, which aims to increase the number of young women working in science, engineering, trade and technology-related occupations.

They were given a tour of the ship, while a series of mutual visits by sailors from the navies represented in Halifax also took place.

Fleet Week included a rugby fixture between a Royal Navy Rugby Union XV and North Atlantic Select XV, which the RN lost 29-15 in a competitive contest.

International Fleet Week closed as ships saluted the Commander of the Canadian Navy, Vice Admiral Angus Topshee.

Fleet Week provided the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole, an opportunity to showcase Halifax as the new NATO base for the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic.

“Everyone was so friendly, warm and welcoming; it made me proud to be attending Fleet Week with Portland representing the Royal Navy,” said Leading Engineering Technician Sophie Hutchison.

“Halifax was the best run ashore I’ve had. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Portland has since departed Canada and will soon return to northern European waters to join HMS Queen Elizabeth and the UK’s Carrier Strike Group.

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