UK: Royal Navy Warship HMS Ledbury to Visit Bristol


Royal Navy warship HMS Ledbury will sail into Bristol from Wednesday August 31 for the start of a six-day visit and the general public will have the chance to go on board this ultra-modern, fighting mine-hunter.

The ship has enjoyed a long-standing affiliation with the town of Ledbury in Hertfordshire, and her ship’s company will interact with people from the market town during her stay.

The 650-tonne, Hunt Class mine countermeasures vessel arrives alongside at Avonmouth South Pier on Wednesday morning, where she will embark Ledbury Mayor, Councillor Allen Conway for the short transit to the Arnolfini in Bristol, where she will arrive around 10am.

During the visit the ship’s company will pay a visit to their namesake town to take part in a Freedom parade and meet the people who have supported the ship throughout her 30-year service to date. There will also be a challenge football match between a ship’s XI and Ledbury Town.

HMS Ledbury will open her gangway to the public on Sunday, August 4, so that people may come and look round the oldest operational ship in the fleet and discover what life is like onboard a warship.

She will also be hosting many of her affiliated groups and organisations which reside in the surrounding area, including the Sea Cadets of Ross and Monmouth, Ledbury Hunt and the Royal Naval Association of Hereford.

HMS Ledbury is a Hunt Class mine countermeasures vessel launched in 1979 by Lady Elizabeth Berthon and is the second ship to hold the name. She was originally designed as a mine sweeper and mine hunter but has in recent years changed to focus primarily on hunting.

The difference between the two is that sweeping entails dragging large influence and cutting wires behind the ship in attempt to bring mines to the surface or detonate them. Hunting involves searching out and destroying each mine individually which is a much safer and more efficient method of mine countermeasures.

HMS Ledbury is crewed by Crew 7 of the 2nd Mine Countermeasure Squadron who have only been with her for around eight months following a seven-month deployment in the Gulf serving in sister-ship HMS Middleton. The crew returned to the UK in January and swapped ships with the old crew, thus alleviating the need to continuously sail ships back and forth from the Arabian Gulf.

The ship and her crew have since undertaken a very busy period of sea training and are now continuing to work up towards a forthcoming NATO deployment in January.

This will be the first port visit for this crew in HMS Ledbury and everyone onboard is very much looking forward to the week alongside Bristol.

Lt Cdr Tony Williams, Commanding Officer, said:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to bring HMS Ledbury to Bristol and renew our affiliation with Ledbury Town.”

“The strong links that have been forged over the ship’s 30 years of service are a source of great support when we are away from home on operations around the world and I look forward to welcoming as many people as possible on board when we are open to the public.”

The ship, which is based in Portsmouth, leaves Weymouth on Tuesday May 26 to return to operational deployment.

HMS Ledbury is a 60m long with a beam of 10m and a displacement of 650 tonnes. The largest warships ever constructed from glass reinforced plastic – built to withstand explosive shocks – the Hunt Class perform the role of hunting for explosive devices in seaways around the world.

The ship carries a crew of 45, seven of whom are clearance divers whose job it is to swim to mines in order to place explosives. However, the ship also has a mine disposal system consisting of two remote controlled submersibles.

These methods were both successfully recently on operations off the coast of Dieppe. There the ship successfully destroyed two air dropped bombs left over from World War II with high explosive.

Source: royalnavy, September 1, 2011;