HMS Bulwark Takes a Short Break, Welcomes Aboard Family Members
Royal Naval families were treated to a day at sea by the grateful crew of the Plymouth-based amphibious ship HMS Bulwark. The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, at high readiness to deploy anywhere in the world at very short notice, took a short break from tasking welcome the families of her ship’s company at sea off the coast of Plymouth.
A busy training and exercise programme since the start of the year has meant the 18,000-ton assault ship has spent a significant amount of time away from HM Naval Base Devonort.
So the sailors took the chance to thank their loved ones for the support they give from home while they are far away by taking them on a rare treat of a day at sea seeing where they live and work while on duty. With a major exercise coming up later this year, the crew will be spending even more time away from families.
HMS Bulwark commanding officer, Captain Andrew Burns, said:
“The support we receive from our families when we are away from our home port is a vital component of our operational capability and, therefore, immensely important.
“Holding a families’ day onboard enables them to visualise where we work and it’s also an opportunity to thank them for their commitment and for the sacrifices they make on our behalf.”
Over 450 family members of the crew embarked in HMS Bulwark in Plymouth Sound by landing craft from the naval base before sailing off the South West coast.
The guests enjoyed a variety of activities throughout the day including a dynamic display by the Assault Squadron Royal Marines which sails with the ship, fire-fighting demonstrations and static displays.
A highlight of the day was a flying display by a Lynx helicopter, one of the Royal Navy’s Black Cats display team.
The day also presented an opportunity to hold a series of pre-deployment briefings by organisations such as the British Forces Broadcasting Service and Naval Families Federation to explain the practical assistance and support available to family members when the ship deploys.
HMS Bulwark now begins a maintenance period, in preparation for deployment to the Mediterranean and the Gulf in the summer as the flagship of the Response Force Task Group – the UK’s Very High Readiness Maritime Force.
HMS Bulwark is one of the Royal Navy’s two assault command and control ships with a crew of 350, a quarter of whom are made up from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines.
The ship can also carry up to 200 marines in dedicated accommodation for long periods and another 500 for shorter periods.
The 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.
Press release, June 10, 2013; Image: UK Navy