A life on the ocean waves might not be everyone’s idea of heaven, but for the 185 members of HMS Lancaster’s ship’s company, the next nine months are the culmination of months of hard work.
The ship heads off to the Caribbean later this month for a deployment centred around maritime security.
Before that however, sailors from HMS Lancaster made a special trip to their ship’s home city as part of a four-day stopover.
Commanding Officer Peter Laughton sailed the Type 23 Duke Class vessel into Liverpool, where the crew spent time with local dignitaries as well as catching up with their families and friends before their next long haul trip.
The ship was primarily in the region for affiliation duties with the city of Lancaster, the highlight of which was a ceremony at Lancaster Town Hall.
Commander Laughton was joined by 85 members of the ship’s company on the trip to Lancaster, where they took part in a static parade outside the town hall, at which formal re-dedication of the Freedom of the City Scroll took place.
The ship’s company was inspected by Lancaster mayor Susie Charles, and the ceremony was accompanied by The Band of The King’s Division. Commander Laughton, who assumed command of HMS Lancaster in November 2013, said: “I was absolutely thrilled to bring HMS Lancaster to the Port of Liverpool in order to re-affirm our strong links with the city of Lancaster.
“With the last ‘hometown’ visit conducted in 2007, this really was a fabulous and much anticipated opportunity to exercise the ‘Freedom of the City of Lancaster’.
During the stay, representatives from Lancaster charity Unique Kidz & Co made a trip to the ship, where they were presented with a cheque for £350. As HMS Lancaster’s chosen charity for 2015, member’s of the ship’s company have been busy fundraising for Unique Kidz while on board. HMS Lancaster was built on the Clyde as the fourth of the Type 23 frigates joining the fleet in 1992.
It is carrying a new state-of-the-art Wildcat helicopter for its first deployment. The versatile multi-role ship can typically be deployed drug-busting in the Caribbean or East of Suez on maritime security patrols.
And after two weeks of training in Portsmouth, the ship will head off to the North and South Atlantic for its nine month deployment. Commander Laughton has led his crew – which includes just two women – over the last year on operations and in training around the UK, along with a five week inspection, in preparation for the Caribbean trip.
The commander, who has been in the Navy for 23 years, said: “We will be going to North and South Atlantic region for nine months; we are looking at 30,000 nautical miles in 18 different countries.
“This is a really fantastic example of the Royal Navy acting as maritime security and engaging with other navies. We will be on call if needed to provide humanitarian relief, but ultimately it is protecting our nation’s interests and security – we will be kept pretty busy. It’s what you join the Navy for, and the crew are all really looking forward to it.
“They will work hard but have a great deal of fun too.
“They are all ambassadors for their country and they behave accordingly.
“I have a hugely talented ship’s company; they are very professional and they make my job very easy for me.
“For me to lead them is the most wonderful privilege in the world, and there’s not a day goes by when I don’t learn something,” added Commander Laughton.