UK: HMS Enterprise Visits Liverpool for First Time
Having completed the rigorous continuity training package delivered by Flag Officer Sea Training staff, Enterprise once more sailed from her Base Port of Plymouth to undertake her designed role of Military Data Gathering operations to update the charts in the South West Approaches to the UK beyond the Isles of Scilly – an age old area of operations for the RN Surveyor.
All too soon, the requirement to break from task to conduct the Watch Rotation of personnel and re-store the ship presented a rare opportunity to “Fly the Flag” and chalk up another first for the current HMS Enterprise with a visit to the maritime city Liverpool.
During the 19th century, the volume of trade passing through Liverpool’s docks was such that at one point the wealth in the city was higher than that of London. This rich maritime history is immediately apparent when the ship arrived – from the busy, built up areas on both sides of the Mersey to the historic docks and locks, many of which are still in use today.
During the brief but busy stopover, the Commanding Officer hosted several local public figures onboard including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Mayor and Mayoress of Sefton and the Naval Regional Commander Northern England and Isle of Mann, Cdre S R Baum RN.
Although not in central view of the City which would have allowed a Ship’s Open to Visitors, Enterprise managed to host ship tours for Sea Cadets and maritime and aviation associations, Potential Officer Candidates and the URNU members embarked in HMS Raider supporting the regional recruitment drive. In total more than 80 people experienced a small taste of what life on board the Echo Class SVHO is like – not bad for a working visit!
All work and no play is hard in anyone’s book but fear not, the Ship’s Company took advantage of the numerous opportunities for R&R. The city’s heritage, art galleries and museums as well as shopping and night life provided ample distraction. One lucky group was invited to visit the Historic Bootle Town Hall which is now occupied by the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton.
Built in the 1880s, the council chamber is now a functional memorial to the local ships and sailors of the Royal Navy who saw service during the Battle of the Atlantic. Shrapnel damaged and smoke-stained Ensigns hang proudly over the galleries with the council meetings being opened and closed by ringing the ship’s bells of HMS Starling and Stork respectively – two ships commanded by Captain “Johnny” Walker RN, leader of the Second Escort Group which sailed out of Bootle Docks during WWII doing then, as the Royal Navy does now: Protecting the Nations Interests.
After successfully completing a watch handover, the Ship bade Liverpool good-bye and sailed with purpose to get back to the business of data collection and detection of previously uncharted wrecks. The information collected will go towards a variety of uses, from updating charts to increasing access for British and allied warships.
Naval Today Staff, August 3, 2012; Image: Royal Navy