The Royal Navy will be in Orkney to support two significant events this weekend: the 50th anniversary of TS Thorfin, the local Sea Cadet unit and the annual commemoration service for HMS Royal Oak.
A contingent from the Rosyth-based Royal Marines Band will attend and River-Class Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Tyne will berth at Kirkwall harbour from Sunday (Oct 13) until Wednesday.
On Saturday evening there is a presentation about the Royal Navy, the roles it performs and its continued relevance in the 21st century, which takes place in the Royal British Legion Scotland building in Kirkwall, from 6pm until 7pm.
The event is free and open to all members of the public. Rear Admiral Chris Hockley, Flag Officer for Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland will introduce the team and Lieutenant Dan Marsden will lead the presentation and a team or Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel will be on hand to answer questions from the audience.
This will be followed at 7.30pm by a concert by the Royal Marines Band contingent in St Magnus Cathedral.
The Brass Quintet and Corps of Drums will perform a variety of musical pieces, from the Overture to HMS Pinafore through a few Beatles classics to more traditional naval tunes such as Drunken Sailor and Life on the Ocean Wave. Again, this is a free event open to all comers. The concert will last one hour.
The main event of the weekend on Sunday 13th will be the parade and Drumhead Service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Orkney Sea Cadets.
The Royal Marines Band will lead a parade of cadets of TS Thorfin, along with members of local youth groups and reservists of 71 Engineer Army Reserve unit to a drumhead service which will be held outside the Cathedral.
Thorfin will be presented with a new Colour which they will then carry at the head of the parade round to the Royal British Legion Scotland building. The parade begins at 1.30pm.
HMS Tyne will also host organised visits on Monday and Tuesday afternoons.
Monday 14th is the 74th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in Scapa bay by the German submarine U-47.
Rear Admiral Hockley and Captain Chris Smith, the Naval Regional Commander for Scotland & Northern Ireland will attend the memorial service at the Scapa Royal Oak Memorial, before embarking on a Talisman launch for the short trip out to the point of sinking which is designated as an official War Grave.
Members of the Faslane-based Northern Diving Group, who will be conducting diving operations in the area the previous week, will present the recently reclaimed ensign from the sunken ship to a family member of one of the 834 souls who were lost during the action.
HMS Tyne will host various members of the local community at a reception on board that evening which will finish with a short performance by the Royal Marines Band.
Captain Smith Royal is keen to see this as the first of a series of annual visits to Orkney.
“The Royal Navy is an organisation which is constantly on operations, 365 days a year, around the world,”
“This means that we don’t get to visit all the places in the UK that we’d like to and not nearly as often as we would wish.
“But it’s important that people across the UK get the opportunity to meet members of the Service and to learn exactly what their Navy does for them.
“This is a chance for the people of Orkney to do just that and I would encourage everyone to come along to the open presentation on Saturday evening and perhaps follow that up with a visit to the Cathedral to listen to the incredibly talented Band of the Royal Marines.”
“I’m certain that a lot of people in Kirkwall will join us to celebrate the Sea Cadets’ 50th anniversary and acknowledge all the good work that organisation does for the youth on the island.
“Orkney has a long history of naval service, with an extremely important role during the Second world War and, indeed, as we begin the commemoration period next year for the First World War we will, both as a Service and as a nation, be looking firmly towards 2016 where we will acknowledge and commemorate the Battle of Jutland, which began with the Grand Fleet sailing from Scapa.
“So I intend to support an annual visit to Orkney by a contingent of the Royal Navy with the aim of re-affirming the important historic links with this area and its community and to reassure them that they are every bit as important to us as any other part of the country.”
“I hope the local community will take the opportunity over this coming weekend to meet members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, learn more about them, what they do, what motivates them and to learn more about what the Navy does for the people of Orkney and the for the UK as a whole.”
Press Release, October 10, 2013; Image: Royl Navy