The Portsmouth-based ship visited Kiel for a week from June 17, joining in the huge maritime event attended by 50 countries, 2000 yachts and pleasure craft and more than 5,000 yachtsmen and women.
Before joining in the celebrations, members of the ship’s company including Commanding Officer Commander Tom Sharpe, two platoons and the ship’s guard headed to a remembrance service and wreath laying at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Nordfriedhof.
Here they paid their respects to the 983 British servicemen – mainly from the RAF – who were killed during bombing raids on the port in the Second World War.
In addition to the fallen airmen, there are numerous Senior Servicemen laid to rest here, including 127 men lost when destroyer HMS Esk sank after hitting a mine off the Dutch coast on September 1 1940.
The service was conducted in the presence of the Polish Vice Consul General (Hamburg) Marek Sorgowicki, German Flottillenadmiral Thomas Jugel, UK Defence Attaché Brigadier Matt O’Hanlon, Royal British Legion Mr Tom Smith and HMS St Albans Commanding Officer, Commander Tom Sharpe.
The ship’s companies of HMS Ranger, HMS Example, HMS Trumpeter and HMS Explorer also attended and the service was supported by the Band and Bugles of the Rifles.
Brigadier O’Hanlon said:
“We are here to remember the servicemen and women of Britain, Poland and the Commonwealth who have lost their lives in the service of their Countries.
“This cemetery is a sobering reminder of the true cost of war and a memorial to the bravery of those who have died.”
HMS St Albans later hosted an official reception and capability demonstration for 200 guests which included a large number of dignitaries and VIPs representing German military authorities and the international community visiting Kiel.
During the capability demonstration guests were shown stances ranging from the Merlin Helicopter to fire fighting, man overboard and rescue procedures. The official reception ended on a high with a ‘Beat the Retreat’, performed by the Band and Bugles of the Rifles and ceremonial sunset from the ship’s guard.
Cdr Sharpe said:
“I am delighted to be able to bring HMS St Albans to Kieler Woche and engage with the international maritime community.
“Our visit to the city of Kiel is very important and has proven to be a great opportunity to strengthen our relationships with Germany and the German Naval community.”
Naval Today Staff , June 25, 2012; Image: Royal Navy