The Plymouth-based amphibious assault ship HMS Bulwark enjoyed a successful four-day visit as the largest and brightest star of the Southampton Boat Show.
Sounding her saluting guns and with her crew lining the decks, she berthed next to the show’s marina. Towering above the luxury yachts and other exhibitors, she attracted considerable attention from the show’s visitors who turned out in their droves to take a look at one of the Royal Navy’s most versatile warships.
The ship played host to 100 invited guests from the Southampton area who were treated to a display of the ship’s impressive capability. After an exciting and dynamic demonstration mounted from HMS Bulwark’s landing craft, guests toured the ship prior to rounding off the evening with a Beating the Retreat, performed by members of The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, and a ceremonial sunset.
HMS Bulwark then welcomed 9,727 general public and boat show visitors during four days. Lucky visitors met the sailors and Royal Marines and had a taste of life onboard an operational Royal Navy warship.
The commanding officer of HMS Bulwark Captain Alex Burton said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to visit the boat show this year and the warmth and hospitality extended to HMS Bulwark has been staggering. It’s always an honour to give the public a rare glimpse of the Royal Navy’s capability and as we depart we can reflect on the scale of our visit and hope that we can return again soon.”
HMS Bulwark will now pick up around 100 French Marines from Brest before commencing Exercise Joint Warrior off the north-west coast of Scotland. This will mark the final stage of training prior to her becoming the Royal Navy’s Flag Ship – ready to deploy at short notice to anywhere in the world.
The ship is one of the Royal Navy’s two assault command and control ships which has a crew of 380, a quarter of whom are made up from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines. HMS Bulwark can also carry up to 200 marines in dedicated accommodation for long periods and another 500 in austere conditions for short periods. Her 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.