Upwards of 1½ million people will see new destroyer HMS Defender over the next three days as she joins the world’s largest harbour festival. The destroyer sailed up the Elbe to Hamburg to take part in the 824th ‘birthday’ of the great port – a celebration of the sea, plus maritime culture, food and music.
Making her way up Germany’s greatest river by night – hence this rather unusual low-light shot – is HMS Defender, which arrived in Hamburg for the port’s 824th birthday party.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer is the Royal Navy’s representative at the Hanseatic city’s Hafengeburtstag (‘harbour birthday’) – billed as the world’s largest harbour festival.
She’s joined on the river by vessels from across the globe: schooners, cruise liners (including the Queen Mary 2), brigs, steamers, cutters and warships – and an estimated one and a half million visitors who descend on the north German port over the three-day maritime festival.
It’s the first time one of the Royal Navy’s new-generation air defence destroyers has visited the city – and as well as showing off the best of the Senior Service, she’s showcasing British industry as part of the ‘Great Britain’ campaign.
To that end a Mini (built in Britain by German motoring giant BMW) with a Union Flag livery and GR8 BR1TA1N numberplate is being craned on to Defender’s flight deck – the latest leg of a round-Germany tour which has seen the car ferried around the lakes of Mecklenburg, rock up at a jazz festival in Bremen, see the Brandenburg Gate and the Rhine, and even had premier David Cameron behind the wheel when he was in Berlin for a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel last month.
As for the harbour festival, it officially opens this open with a parade this afternoon and closes on Sunday with a sail in formation down the Elbe by departing vessels.
If you are in the Hamburg area over the next few days, you’ll find Defender at the Überseebrücke, which is roughly half way between the city centre and the distractions of St Pauli. She’s open to the public today and tomorrow between 10am and 5pm.
Press Release, May 10, 2013; Image: Royal Navy