Portsmouth based HMS Lancaster has visited her final Caribbean port and started her long journey home for Christmas.
The ship called into Bridgetown, Barbados, for a four day visit that also marked the island’s Independence Day.
A squad of 15 sailors were sent along to participate in the 47th Independence Day celebrations; dressed in their tropical ceremonial uniforms they marched alongside the country’s police, fire brigade and defence force.
The Barbados Legion, which also took part in the parade, handed over almost £2,000 in British and European coins, collected over the past 2 years, for Lancaster to bring back to the UK for the charity.
HMS Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Peter Laughton MBE, said,
“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to bring Lancaster to Barbados, not only to help mark their 47th Independence Day but also as this marked my first port visit as the Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster.
“Barbados and the Royal Navy have strong ties that go back centuries and I hope this visit has been able to strengthen those ties and build on new ones, ensuring they go on for many more years to come.”
Lancaster also took part in a community project sending nine sailors to a World War II veteran’s home. The sailors painted the entire outside of the wind battered property and cleared away old outhouses and sheds, leaving the property suitable modernised.
As one of the Royal Navy’s sportiest ships there was a surprise in store for many of the ship’s company when Wigan Football Club Chairman, Dave Whelan, came onboard with the FA Cup.
The FA Cup being on board gave Able Seaman Andrew Locky, 21, a lifelong Wigan supporter, a dream photo opportunity. He said,
“It was an amazing feeling to hold the FA Cup that I watched Wigan win this year; I know all my mates at home will be really jealous.”
Lancaster now leaves the Caribbean after a successful deployment that has seen her visit all six of the British Overseas Territories in the region, take part in the multinational exercise UNITAS, and seize almost £160 million of illegal drugs.
In the last 6 months she has worked with numerous Navies, Defence Forces and organisations across the region the region and further afield.
Additionally she has visited numerous Commonwealth and Caribbean countries in order to conduct regional defence engagement, demonstrating the Royal Navy’s continued commitment to the region.
Press Release, December 04, 2013; Image: Royal Navy