HMS Lancaster will visit Kent this weekend (April 4-8) with Deal man Lieutenant Commander James Thomson as second-in-command.
The 133-metre warship will go alongside at Cruise Terminal 2 in the Port of Dover on Friday April 4 and remain there until Tuesday morning.
During her packed weekend’s activities, members of the ship’s company will form part of the service and parade marking the 70th anniversary of HMS Cavalier at Chatham Historic Dockyard on Saturday.
The celebration service begin at 11.30 at the Dockyard Chapel and is followed by a march past at 12.45pm.
On Sunday, members of the public can get their own taste of life on the ocean wave when HMS Lancaster opens her gangway for visitors from 10am to 5pm – last entry to ship is at 4pm.
The ship’s crew will be on hand to chat to people about the ship and their experiences in the Senior Service and explain more about the modern Royal Navy and the work carried out at home and further afield to protect and promote the UK’s interests.
A number of pre-arranged tours will take place for groups of young people and Sea Cadets on Monday before the ship departs on Tuesday.
Among those particularly looking forward to the visit is HMS Lancaster’s Executive Officer (second-in-command) Lieutenant Commander James Thomson, 39.
James hails from Deal and was educated at Dover Grammar School for Boys, so the weekend in port is particularly special for him.
“Coming home in my own warship as second-in-command is an extremely proud moment for me and my family,” said James.
“I think they will all want to wave from the top of the cliffs.
“I am thoroughly looking forward to catching up with family and friends during this visit – it’s a real homecoming.”
James joined the Royal Navy in 1997 and has served all over the world, including three months recently in the Caribbean with HMS Lancaster.
Amongst others, he has also completed three South Atlantic patrols in Type 42 destroyers HM Ships Gloucester, Nottingham and Manchester, and a further seven month Caribbean deployment, again on HMS Manchester.
“We have a busy weekend ahead of us in Kent,” continued HMS Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Peter Laughton. “It is a great honour to have been invited to mark the 70th anniversary of the launch of HMS Cavalier and we are looking forward to being part of the celebrations on the day at Chatham.
“And on Sunday we hope that members of the public will take the opportunity to come on board when we open the ship to visitors.”
Tim Waggott, Chief Executive, Port of Dover, said:
“As the Port works hard to increase local skills and interest in the maritime industry, it is great to see how a former local school pupil – Lieutenant Commander James Thomson – has succeeded, taking Dover’s reputation for maritime excellence across the world – exactly what we are committed to doing. A great advert for us all.”
Lancaster will operate primarily in UK waters this year ending with a period of Operational Sea Training just before Christmas, ensuring the ship is ready to deploy again in 2015 .
Press Release, April 3, 2014; Image: Royal Navy