The Royal Navy will be taking centre stage in the international spectacular at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo from Friday (5th August) to 27th August.
A worldwide audience of millions (218,425 watching the live show in Edinburgh and a TV audience judged at over 100 million) for the spectacular event will see the Royal Navy in the limelight as the lead military service.
Major attractions will be a Royal Navy warship counter-piracy boarding team from HMS Montrose, field-gun race and HM Bands of the Royal Marines, along with other navies, reflecting this year’s Tattoo theme – ‘Of the Sea’. A field gun crew from HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy’s premier training establishment in the South West, will be in action daily competing against a crew from Faslane at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo between 15 and 20 August.
The HMS Montrose boarding team, which earned its stripes on patrol with notable successes against Somali pirates, will give a dynamic display – re-enacting operational action on the Edinburgh Castle arena transformed into a kidnapped cargo ship.
Commander Jonathan Lett, the commanding officer of HMS Montrose said: “Although the base-port of HMS Montrose is in Plymouth, Devon, the ship has incredibly close links with Scotland. As a Duke Class Type 23 Frigate HMS Montrose is named after the Duke of Montrose. But Montrose itself is a small port on the east coast of Scotland in Angus. The Tattoo provides an excellent medium to strengthen those links and the Lord Lieutenant of Angus, the Duke of Montrose and the ship’s sponsor Lady Rifkind have all been invited to attend the Tattoo.
“They will be joined by many thousands of spectators from around the world and indeed the Tattoo will be broadcast worldwide. This year’s theme ‘Of the Sea’ provides a fantastic opportunity to highlight the broad range of work the Royal Navy undertakes on a daily basis.
“Having returned from operations in the Indian Ocean at the very end of last year a team of 16 sailors from HMS Montrose will be re-creating a counter-piracy boarding on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.
“Working in conjunction with the Tattoo producers, the team will use a combination of sound, light and live action to show how teams from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines deal with incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Based on a real boarding which HMS Montrose undertook whilst on patrol in the Indian Ocean last year the Tattoo provides a fantastic opportunity not only to highlight the work of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in deterring and disrupting acts of piracy but also the high quality training and versatility of our men and women.”
HMS Montrose deterred many potential pirate acts in the Gulf of Aden last year, including a major success when its boarding party and helicopter combined to scare off pirates who boarded a German merchant ship Beluga Fortune. The merchant ship crew locked themselves in and before the pirates could take further action the Royal Navy arrived. The German government sent a message of gratitude to Foreign Secretary William Hague for the Royal Navy’s actions.
Petty Officer Adam Cowling, boarding team second-in-command was involved in the Beluga Fortune operation. He said: “We are honoured to be playing such an important role in the Edinburgh Tattoo. We promise audiences an action-packed demonstration of what we have done for real on counter-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden last year. The boarding parties are highly trained. They work in potentially hostile environments and are trained to be lowered by helicopter into vessels and using small arms and are physically fit. They also have to interact with people of varying nationalities and cultures which often be a sensitive issue and diplomacy is essential.”
Brigadier David Allfrey, Tattoo chief executive, said: “I am thrilled to have the Royal Navy at the centre of this year’s Tattoo. We aim to create a tremendous atmosphere around the theme ‘Of the Sea’ and while delivering a wonderful show, gently remind everyone of Britain’s pedigree as a maritime trading nation our diverse and accessible coastline and our continuing reliance on trade by sea. It is a particular pleasure to welcome the team from HMS Montrose whose links with Scotland offer proper resonance and the opportunity to present the Royal Navy’s story with elegance and a light touch.”
“The strong naval presence continues with the Massed Bands of the Royal Marines from Plymouth, Portsmouth and Faslane and – in a first for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – field-gun teams drawn from across the Royal Navy for the demanding field-gun competition, set in a context of naval gunnery across the centuries’’ In its 62nd season, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo includes the world-renowned Massed Pipes and Drums and a cast of nearly a thousand top-flight performers drawn from across the globe – military bands, soloists, dancers, singers and the action items make for a wonderful multi-national and multi-cultural event.
Against the backdrop of a series of nautical images projected onto the Half Moon Battery, a dance sequence will illustrate the trials and tribulations of fishermen working both on land, mending nets and preparing their boats, and at sea, facing the full force of the elements. Accompanying the Tattoo Dance Company is the all-girl West Ulster Total Dance Company.
The colourful diversity of this year’s programme is both enthralling and eclectic, with the Royal Netherlands Army Mounted Regimental Fanfare Band mounted on bicycles and wearing uniforms from World War One. From Berlin there is The Crossed Swords, a group of forty-five pipers, Germany’s first pipe band.
Also taking part in the spectacle is the Brazilian Marine Corps Military Band from South America; from the Middle East come the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Army of Oman, and, from South Australia, the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Caledonian Society.
When the Lone Piper appears high up on the castle’s battlements for the finale, the audience will be able to look back on a matchless shared experience that will have felt the light airs of the estuary, the building winds of the channel, the power of the trade winds, the howl of the gale and the calm beyond.