HMS Charger to Visit Northwich, UK

HMS Charger to Visit Northwich, UK

The Royal Navy’s HMS Charger will visit Northwich this Saturday and Sunday (May 4-5), taking her more than 20 miles inland – rather an unusual place to find one of the UK’s maritime fighting force.

HMS Charger is the Universities Royal Naval Unit patrol vessel for Liverpool and Lancaster universities and will leave her Mersey home heading due east and into the Manchester Ship Canal.

From there, however, things get a little bit different, as she moves into the mouth of the River Weaver at approximately 9am on Saturday, from whence she will transit the Dutton and Saltersford Locks, as well as sail beneath the Sutton Weaver, Acton and Winnington Swing Bridges, arriving in Northwich at approximately 12.30pm.

It is the first time a Royal Navy vessel will have made this journey during the 21st century and she will be accompanied into Northwich by a flotilla of narrow boats.

The P2000 Archer Class patrol vessel will tie up in full view of local townspeople at a reserved mooring below Town Bridge.

She will then host a number of prearranged group visits for youth organisations and one or two other interested parties throughout the afternoon.

But, in the evening, the crew members themselves become guests of the community, enjoying a short narrow boat journey on the river to the Anderton Boat Lift, where they will be given a special tour of this historic landmark, as well as a reception.

Charger reopens her gangway for one or two more pre-booked group tours on Sunday morning, before departing down river at approximately 12.30pm – arriving back at the ship canal’s Marsh Lock at 4pm.

The whole visit has been organised with invaluable help and guidance from the River Weaver Navigation Society and the Canal and River Trust, which manages the river.

“My crew and I are thoroughly looking forward to this visit to Northwich,”explained HMS Charger’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ian Critchley.

“It is a very unusual destination for us and I am proud that we are the first Royal Navy vessel to make the journey in well over a decade.

“The visit has been a long time in the planning and none of it would have been possible without the help of the River Weaver Navigation Society, as well as the Canal and River Trust.

“Their enthusiasm to make it happen has made all the difference and I am really looking forward to welcoming them as our hosts, as well as various organised tour groups of local people on board during this short visit. And I’ve never visited somewhere before under narrow boat escort, which makes it all the more special.”

Northwich has a rich history of building small craft for the Royal Navy, both at the former Yarwoods and Pimlotts Yards. HMS Charger will probably be the last craft to transit the open Sutton Weaver Bridge, prior to its major overhaul, which starts in June and will last 12 months.

 “This will be an exciting weekend for Northwich and will once again show how important the River Weaver is in attracting visitors,”said the River Weaver Navigation Society chairman John Tackley.

“The craft can be seen at her berth on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and will be moored below Town Bridge – she is not open to the public, but we have organised a number of visits for local groups during that time.

“My Society would like to thank Canal and River Trust and its local staff for their close cooperation in making this visit possible over the Bank Holiday Weekend.”

Naval Today Staff, May 1, 2013; Image: Royal Navy