UK: HMS Bulwark to Arrive in North Shields
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, HMS Bulwark, will arrive in North Shields for a week-long visit, during which her ship’s company will cement the already strong relationship with affiliated County Durham.
HMS Bulwark is playing a lead role in the forthcoming Battle of Atlantic 70th anniversary commemorations, which take place in Liverpool from May 24-28 – the ship will be berthed in the city for the duration – and this visit to the Tyne is part of that wider regional engagement programme.
Her activities begin when her commanding officer, Captain Andrew Burns, hosts a capability demonstration for 250 invited guests from local industry, council members, businesses and emergency services and the ship’s affiliates.
This will demonstrate the range of roles that the ship and her crew undertake, and also how the military can help local authorities in times of need, for example with flooding disasters.
It will include demonstrations of fire-fighting, command and control procedures and medical and first-aid techniques.
Crew members will take to the road and visit a variety of organisations, schools and hospitals, to further strengthen ties with Bulwark’s affiliates. There will also be a friendly rugby match between a Bulwark XV and Durham University.
The visit will culminate with an industry day, which will see the Amphibious Assault vessel used as the networking venue for local businesses and Armed Forces Careers Office acquaint visits.
It will also provide affiliate groups with a chance to visit Bulwark and meet the ship’s company and about life on a Royal Navy warship.
Having just finished a period of intensive training, and participating in the largest military exercise in Western Europe, Joint Warrior, Bulwark’s sailors and Royal Marines have proved their contribution to Bulwark’s operational capability… now they are ready to demonstrate their diplomatic skills.
Captain Burns said:
“We are looking forward to our return to the North East very much. We are fortunate to have a close relationship with an area of the country that has delivered fantastic support to the Royal Navy and HMS Bulwark and it is one we are immensely proud of.
“HMS Bulwark’s links to her affiliations are strong and the visit will present an opportunity to reaffirm these ties. A visit to the ship’s affiliated area is a special occasion and I look forward to showing off the Fleet Flagship in North Shields.”
HMS Bulwark visit to North Shields is the beginning of a three-week long trip which will see her visit Rotterdam to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the UK and Royal Netherlands Navy Amphibious Force, and then Liverpool to participate in the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.
The 18,500-tonne vessel is one of the Royal Navy’s two Assault Command and Control ships. Launched in November 2001 she has a ship’s company of 350, a quarter of who are made up from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (4 ASRM).
In addition the ship can carry up to 200 marines in dedicated accommodation for long periods and another 500 in austere conditions for short periods. Her flight deck can accommodate two Chinook or two Merlin helicopters.
A large floodable dock holds four large landing craft – with another four carried on davits on the ship’s side.
Naval Today Staff, May 1, 2013; Image: Royal Navy