HMS Somerset to Anchor in River Dart, UK
The Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset will anchor in the River Dart on Friday 13 September 2013 as the Royal Navy marks 150 years of Officer training on the river.
A series of events have been held throughout the year to make the anniversary of HMS Britannia’s arrival at Dartmouth in September 1863 to begin the association between the Royal Navy and the town.
From her moorings in the river, the wooden former Flagship of the Crimean War was used as a cadet training ship for boys destined for a career in the Senior Service.
HMS Somerset’s arrival will coincide with a special alumni dinner at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) attended by senior Royal Navy Officers and a number of international guests, some of whom trained at BRNC and are now the heads of their own countries’ Navy. HMS Somerset is currently undergoing a period of training with Flag Officer Sea Training off the South Coast.
Captain Jerry Kyd, the Commanding Officer of Britannia Royal Naval College, said:
“Newspaper reports from the time record that members of the public lined the quayside to welcome HMS Britannia to her new moorings. Since then the relationship between the Royal Navy and the local community has gone from strength to strength and we are immensely grateful for the support we receive.
“The River Dart remains a fantastic maritime training ground to prepare Cadets for the challenges they will face at sea.”
HMS Britannia, a first rate ship of 120 guns, was commissioned in 1820. She was the fourth ship to bear the name and weighed 2,616 tonnes. The three deck ship was launched in Plymouth. She was designated a cadet training ship in 1859 and was joined in the River Dart by HMS Hindostan in 1864 when overcrowding became an issue.
The original Britannia was replaced by HMS Prince of Wales in 1869, which was immediately renamed. Cadet training moved ashore in 1905 when the College of today was first opened. HMS Hindostan left Dartmouth almost immediately and was broken up in 1920.
HMS Britannia remained and was used for seamanship training and as a floating classroom, before eventually being towed away in 1916.
Today around 400 cadets a year pass through the College, while the majority are from the Royal Navy, budding officers from 20 different nations regularly undertake training at BRNC.
Press Release, September 13, 2013; Image: Royal Navy