HMS Lancaster Departs British Virgin Islands, Heads to Anguilla

HMS Lancaster Departs British Virgin Islands, Heads to Anguilla

As she continues on her journey through the Caribbean, Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Lancaster has left the British Virgin Islands and is on her way to Anguilla.

The Royal Navy warship is visiting British Overseas Territories as part of her regional defence engagement activities while on a six-month deployment in the Caribbean and North Atlantic. Her plan is to also provide reassurance and security to the islands at the start of the core hurricane season.

Contingency plans have been discussed with the local services and authorities, meaning that if Lancaster has to return to any of the forty islands that make up the territory she can respond quickly and effectively, providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

HMS Lancaster paid a visit to the capital island Tortola where she followed a programme of working with officials and displayed her powerful capabilities to islanders and interested parties.

Lancaster, affectionately nicknamed ‘The Queen’s Frigate’ after her sponsor Her Majesty The Queen, will visit all six of the British Overseas Territories in the region as well as numerous Commonwealth and Caribbean countries in order to conduct regional defence engagement.

These visits will provide the opportunity to train with other navies as well as demonstrate the Royal Navy’s continued commitment to the region.

HMS Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Steve Moorhouse, said:

“It was a great honour to visit Tortola and continue the long relationship the Royal Navy has had with the British Virgin Islands. We were made to feel very welcome by everyone upon our arrival and throughout our stay.

“I am delighted we had the opportunity to work with the Governor’s office and emergency services to share knowledge and also prepare for any natural disaster.”

During Lancaster’s stay the ship’s company hosted the Governor and the Premier as well as local dignitaries, officials and even the owner of Pusser’s Rum for a Reception and Capability Demonstration; the evening ended with the Royal Navy’s traditional ceremonial sunset accompanied by Lancaster’s very own bagpipes.HMS Lancaster Departs British Virgin Islands, Heads to Anguilla1

This visit not only saw Lancaster hosting the locals, but also the locals hosting Lancaster as several members of the ships company took part in ‘adopt a sailor’ day. Small groups from each messdeck spent the day with local families doing a range of things from island tours to experiencing local life.

A team of ten sailors from Lancaster put their skilled labour to good use during the visit by restoring a firing range for the police service.

The range on Dead Mans Chest Island was originally built by the Royal Engineers but fell into disuse following a storm 18 years ago.

Lancaster’s sailors set to work early in the morning removing a section of forest that had covered the old firing range so the police now have the ability to use the long and short distance ranges for their training.

Lancaster’s sailors also played a big part on the field of sport.

Anguilla will be the next port of call for HMS Lancaster, which will be the first time many of the sailors have arrived at this port.

Cdr Moorhouse added:

 “After five extremely successful visits at the start of the deployment, Lancaster has now settled into a rhythm of engaging with local authorities and demonstrating our capability to the Overseas Territories.

“We continue to look forward to our future visits but remain prepared for any eventuality and ready to respond to whatever challenges may arise over the next 6 months.”

Press Release, July 8, 2013; Image: Royal Navy