HMS St Albans Spends Five Days on Thames on Visit to London, UK
HMS St Albans has spent the past five days on the Thames on a visit to London – the first she has made in 18 months. The Portsmouth-based frigate used the visit to renew ties with affiliates in her namesake Hertfordshire city as well as host numerous guests and affiliates while berthed in the Pool of London.
The ensign belongs to Her Majesty’s Ship St Albans, which was today departing the Thames after a five-day visit to the capital.
The Portsmouth-based frigate, which completed a six-month deployment to the Gulf just before Christmas,
It’s nearly 18 months since the ship was last in the capital, and she used her return to London to show off what she can do – and to catch up on all that has happened in her namesake Hertfordshire city in the intervening period.
During her time berthed outboard of HMS Belfast, the Saint, as the ship is affectionately known, invited friends from St Albans aboard, as well as good causes such as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and Rainbow Centre, Sea Cadets and VIPs aboard for a succession of tours and demonstrations.
Perhaps the most popular visitor was Nuba, the latest puppy to be trained on behalf of St Albans Guide Dogs for the Blind, who was brought aboard and cheques were handed over to charities for whom the ship’s company strove to raise money during last year’s deployment.
The fund-raising didn’t stop for the Saints in the Gulf.
While we’re used to seeing runners pounding the upper deck of a Type 23 frigate, the sight of two sailors on push bikes on the narrow walkways is less common.
But two members of the ship’s company were applauded around the ship – then off it – as they set out to ride from London to Portsmouth in aid of Sport Relief.
Also on the sporting front, St Albans City – who play three levels below the Football League in the Southern League Premier Division – hosted the sailors at their Clarence Park ground for a charity match on behalf of Grove House Hospice, a local cancer charity, and Help for Heroes.
A select Saints XI (the football club shares the frigate’s nickname) defeated the ship’s team 6-1 – although we’re told the biggest cheer of the night came when AB Rob Jones bagged the consolation goal for the Type 23.
Away from the ship, some of the sailors were invited to tour the Royal Hospital Chelsea and see behind the scenes of the world famous retirement home for soldiers – the legendary Chelsea Pensioners and their resplendent red uniforms.
All told, the five days in the capital – which ended around lunchtime today – went down very well indeed.
“I was delighted to be able to bring HMS St Albans back into London and engage with so many different groups, including many from St Albans itself,” said Cdr Tom Sharpe, the frigate’s Commanding Officer.
“The links with ‘our town’ are very important to the ship’s company and this has been a great opportunity to develop them further – whilst showing our support to the wider community.”
Naval Today Staff , March 23, 2012; Image: royalnavy