Table Mountain provided the impressive background to HMS Portland’s berth on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town as she arrived for a three-day visit.
Shortly before sailing into the South African capital, HMS Portland held a series of exercises with the South African submarine Charlotte Maxeke which provided an ideal opportunity for the ship’s crew to test their submarine hunting skills.
Once in port, HMS Portland promoted the theme of all that is great about Britain, highlighting British innovation, technology, business, sport and creativity. For this the ship hosted a demonstration of their capability and equipment along with an official reception, as well as having 150 local school children on board for a day of activities.
The pupils took part in five-a-side football match on a pitch adjacent to the ship and drove the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car in a simulator – which is aiming to break the land speed record at Hakskeen Pan in the Northwestern corner of South Africa in 2015.
They also managed to explore the ship and enjoyed a pirate themed party which was hosted by members of the ship’s company.
Amongst the visitors was the Izivunguvungu musical group, an outreach project which promotes music to local disadvantaged children. The group has created a talented brass band of young children from 10 to 18 years old who used the fore castle of the ship as an impromptu stage and performed two musical sets.
These performances not only entertained the ships’ company, but also many of the visitors to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, who stopped to enjoy the entertainment.
Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineer) Ben Venables, who helped organised the pirate party, said: “The children all really enjoyed their time on Portland. They were impressed by the size of the ship and had great fun at the party.
“I was part of the ‘soak a sailor’ stance and they seemed to get real delight throwing buckets of water over me!”
The Plymouth-based Type 23 frigate is on a seven-month deployment in the Atlantic, maintaining the continuous Royal Navy presence and providing on-going protection and reassurance to British overseas colonies in the region.
As well as engaging with partner nations along the way, HMS Portland will take part in maritime security operations including counter-piracy and counter-narcotic patrols. She is due to return to the UK later this summer.
Press Release, April 14, 2014; Image: Royal Navy