The Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset took special guests to sea for a rare taste of life at sea.
More than 200 lucky people, aged from six to 86, came onboard the Plymouth-based warship to join their relatives who serve as the ship’s company and see where they spend their working days and understand their jobs when they go on worldwide deployments.
The excited relatives and friends joined the frigate in Plymouth Sound by boat before sailing off the SW Coast to see a specially arranged demonstration of the ship’s ability to fight and defend herself.
They were treated to thrilling and deafening exercises in firing the ship’s main gun at a floating target and evading an ‘air attack’. The ship heeled over as all 46,000 horsepower were used to help fight off a low-level ‘air attack’ staged by Hawk jets – with the ship emerging victorious and the civilian guests impressed.
A simulated attack by an ‘enemy ship’ was followed by a damage-control exercise after which youngsters were given the chance to get hands-on and be shown how to use a fireman’s hose.
A dazzling display by the ship’s fast boats on the calm waters showed the skills used last year to intercept over £8.5 million of drugs whilst on patrol in the Gulf.
Three generations of Engineering Technician Nick Oldham’s, 28, family were all onboard to enjoy the proceedings. Experiencing life onboard for the first time Nick’s dad Frank said: “It’s been really good, it seems so much bigger on the inside, you just don’t realise what it is like until you onboard.’’
Nick’s mother Kath added: “It’s been much better than I could have expected with all the effort that everyone put in, I didn’t expect to see so much.”
Looking back on the day the ship’s captain Commander Michael Wood said: “We tend to think of our ship as a family, but our actual families give us the strength and support we each draw on to serve the nation. I am delighted to be able to welcome them onboard to see and feel shipboard life.”
After taking a well earned Easter break HMS Somerset will be taking part in a major exercise which will see ships, aircraft and troops from many countries practise peace-keeping, embargo enforcement and preparing for deployment anywhere in the world to protect the nation’s interests.