The families of sailors had the rare treat of seeing how their loved ones live and work on board the amphibious warship HMS Albion.
A family day was enjoyed by hundreds of partners and children (Thursday) in Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth, when they were able to see behind the scenes of one of the Navy’s most versatile warship as it prepares for operations round the world.
Parents and children alike were allowed to clamber onto the Royal Marines many heavy duty vehicles, scale the climbing training wall, marvel at the size of the helicopter landing deck and internal floodable dock which takes landing craft carrying troops and tanks.
Caitlin Lund, aged eight, was given some strong-arm help by a sailor as she donned fire fighting gear and pointed a fire hose squirting high pressure water into the docks to get an idea how all sailors are trained to fight fires on board.
Captain Phil Newton, from the ship’s Royal Marines assault squadron, showed his children Lucy, 11, and Alex, 13, round one of his vehicles. He said: “It’s important to show our families where we work when we go away. We tell them we are part of a different family, the wider ship’s and Navy family. They can then envisage where we are and what we are doing from experience – it will mean show much more to them and help them understand why we are away.’’
Lucy and Alex said this was their first time on a warship. Lucy said: “It’s been really good. We’ve seen the guns and the hose.’’ Alex said he was thinking of joining the Royal Marines. He added: “The ship’s huge. I’m amazed. I liked seeing the night-vision equipment.’’
Commander Mark Jones, the weapons engineering officer on HMS Albion, showed his children (Ellis, aged six, Fynlay, ten, and Fraser, two) round his cabin and on the climbing wall. He said: “This is partly to show our families where we spend so much time and what we do and partly to show our appreciation of their support on the home front while we are deployed. It’s also very rewarding to see their enjoyment.’’
Ellis said: “We looked round daddy’s cabin and saw the digger. I liked the cabin best because he has radio in there and he switched the night lights on.’’
Lieutenant Commander James Robey, HMS Albion navigator, hosted his family (Emily, 11, Sebastian eight, and Charlie six and partner Zoe Jeffrey). He said: “They are having a cracking time. I can tell them many times what we do and what the ship can do, but there is nothing like actually seeing the ship and how big it is and amazing them all with the marines ‘toys’. It helps for them to cope with us all being away when they can picture what we might be doing – with something that is familiar and be reassured that I will be back.’’
The ship will continue sea trials off the South West Coast and begin training under Flag officer Sea Training to prepare for operations globally in the future as the amphibious flagship.