Sunday, 23 September 2007

The Navy Is Coming!

The residents of Anguilla are looking forward to the arrival of Plymouth based Royal Navy warship, HMS Portland, which will visit us from 24 - 27 September 2007 as part of her deployment to the Caribbean. Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory but we do not often see members of our naval fleet and so there will be much interest in her visit.

According to the press release issued by the ship the aim of the visit is 'to display and strengthen the links between Anguilla and the United Kingdom and provide the Ship’s Company with an opportunity to relax during their six month deployment. ' During the visit the Captain will host a Cocktail Party for invited guests after paying courtesy visits to His Excellency the Governor, Mr Andrew George, the Chief Minister, the Honorable Osbourne Fleming and the Acting Commissioner of Police, Illidge Richardson. Members of his crew will be 'taking part in a series of training exercises, including first aid and radio communications drills, with the Anguillan Police and Fire Services.'

The ship's Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Utley said “We are really looking forward to our visit to Anguilla and the opportunities to conduct training with the Police and Fire Services.”

The release further states that 'HMS Portland is stationed in the Caribbean region as part of the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) (APT(N)) for the 2007 hurricane season, which runs from June until November, ready to respond in the event of a humanitarian crisis. She recently provided assistance in Belize following the impact of Hurricane Dean. At other times, APT(N) units conduct Maritime Counter Narcotics operations and wider regional engagements covering the Atlantic and western Pacific.'

HMS Portland is one of the most advanced of the Royal Navy's fleet, being a Duke Class, Type 23 Frigate. She carries 180 personnel and is a multi-purpose ship equipped to carry out a range of military and humanitarian tasks. Her weaponry includes a 4.5 inch gun, Harpoon and Seawolf missile systems and carries the versatile Mark 8 Lynx helicopter. At 133 metres in length and with a displacement of 4,800 tonnes, PORTLAND is powered by 2 Rolls Royce Gas Turbine Engines, supported by 4 Diesel Generators.

The children on the island will be able to marvel at this feat of military might when the ship hosts visits for local schools. Those interested in sport will be able to see how the crew fares when matched against Anguillian teams in Netball, Cricket and Football.

In all, Anguilla is in for an interesting time over the next few days.

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