HMS Lancaster sailed up the Elbe and into the great port of Hamburg as the harbour celebrated its 825th birthday. More than 100 vessels from around the world attended the Hafengeburtstag (‘harbour birthday’) festival in the heart of the Hanseatic city.
Despite leaden skies in Germany’s greatest port, there were crowds aplenty wanting to see HMS Lancaster which helped Hamburg celebrate the 825th anniversary of the harbour.
Each year Hamburgers mark the occasion with a river festival on the River Elbe – and in recent years in particular Royal Navy vessels have attended the Hafengeburtstag (‘harbour birthday’) event.
This year it was Portsmouth-based frigate’s honour to fly the flag for the UK, heading up an 80-mile stretch of the Elbe from the North Sea to the Hanseatic port, culminating in a maritime procession of more than 100 vessels watched by a good 50,000 people.
At the head was the German frigate FGS Hamburg, and as well as several smaller naval patrol boats, tall ships, cruise ships, every imaginable small craft.
“It is a great honour and a privilege for me to be able to bring HMS Lancaster to Hamburg and to participate in the 825th Hamburg Hafengeburtstag,” said HMS Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Peter Laughton MBE.
Once in the heart of the port, Lancaster was berthed next to the Hamburg and together they were very much the centrepiece of the Hafengeburtstag with over 11,000 people visiting The Queen’s frigate (Her Majesty is the Duke of Lancaster) to get a closer look.
Lancaster also used her time alongside in Germany to promote British trade to local businesses by holding a UK Trade and Industry dinner for Jaguar-Land Rover.
The frigate’s Commanding Officer Cdr Peter Laughton called on the Chief Inspector of the German Navy – the equivalent of the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord – as well as the commanding officers of other foreign naval warships in attendance.
With both Britain and Germany passionate footballing nations, the visit to Hamburg would not have been complete without a ‘kick about’.
Lancaster’s team did not disappoint, winning the international football tournament arranged as part of the festival (her team were not so successful at rugby, although they a strong performance).
“It has been a tremendous honour and privilege for me to bring HMS Lancaster into Hamburg and to participate in the 825th Hafengeburtstag,” said Cdr Laughton.
“Both our nations have a rich maritime history and this was a terrific opportunity to engage with people across such a wide spectrum of maritime activity throughout a quite magnificent harbour festival.”
Lancaster has had a successful start to 2014 that has seen her become the first Type 23 frigate to operate with the upgraded Merlin Mk 2 helicopter, take part in training with aircraft and submarines in the English Channel to qualify the next generation of Royal Navy Principal Warfare Officers, and operate in and around the Channel Islands to train the Navy’s future navigators of the frigates and destroyers.
The ship is now back in Portsmouth where she’s gearing up to host the Queen in Portsmouth Naval Base on May 20th. It’s the first time in nearly a decade that Her Majesty has had the opportunity to visit her warship and meet the ship’s company and their families.
Press Release, May 15, 2014; Image: Royal Navy