The warship HMS Somerset visited the Isles of Scilly to underline the close relationship between the community and the Royal.
Whilst anchored off St Mary’s the ship welcomed over 500 islanders and tourists onboard (7th-9th June). The crew also supported the islands’ commemoration service marking the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.
The visit began with a reception on board and capability demonstration, during which ninety invited guests were treated to naval hospitality whilst being shown what HMS Somerset can achieve as a versatile warship. Sea boat and boarding team displays were followed by a tour above and below decks. A traditional naval sunset ceremony concluded an enjoyable evening. HMS Somerset opened its gangway to allow members of the public onboard as a separate event.
In honour of the ship’s visit a Royal Naval White Ensign was flown over Star Castle on St Mary’s Island before a formal commemoration service to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. The crew, including a 12-man guard of honour, joined 600 members of the public at the ceremony in honour of all those that perished and took part in the battle. Commodore James Miller, Naval Regional Commander (Wales and Western England), as the senior military attendee, paid tribute to the contribution made by Scilly islanders during this long and hard-fought campaign.Cdre Miller also personally thanked two surviving Battle of the Atlantic veterans who were in attendance. The White Ensign was lowered during the closing ceremonial sunset, overlooking HMS Somerset at anchor.
HMS Somerset’s contribution to the Battle of Atlantic 70th anniversary commemorations on St Mary’s is similar to events the Royal Navy has been involved in nationwide.
Guard commander, Lieutenant Gary Turner Royal Navy said: “We were honoured to be able to play our part in supporting the islands’ commemoration service to mark the Battle of the Atlantic 70th Anniversary and the contribution made by Scilly Islanders. A Royal Navy guard of honour, Royal Marine buglers and a ceremonial sunset overlooking the Atlantic Ocean was a fitting tribute to the longest military campaign of World War 2.”
On Sunday HMS Somerset’s commanding officer, Commander Mike Smith repaid the islanders’ hospitality by hosting a lunch onboard. He said: “It has been a pleasure welcoming islanders onboard HMS Somerset and helping them understand a little more about the role the modern Royal Navy has in protecting our nation’s interests both at home and further afield around the globe. As the West Country’s favourite warship, it is fantastic to be able to visit the most westerly part of England and be made to feel so welcome.”
The Island’s school children were also given the opportunity to visit HMS Somerset yesterday. Around 100 enthusiastic youngsters toured the ship and were given the opportunity to see the ship’s Merlin helicopter on the flight-deck.
The visit allowed the crew of HMS Somerset to take a well-earned break from intensive operational sea training in UK waters under Flag Officer Sea Training staff in preparation for any future operations.