The Royal Navy’s HMS Pembroke will sail into Pembroke Dock next week to support the Dockyard Founders Day celebrations.
Arriving at No1 Berth Pembroke Dock on May 13, the 52.5 metre ship will remain in port until Saturday (May 17) – and she has two rather proud Pembrokeshire locals on board.
“It is an honour to have been invited to make this journey to support the 200th anniversary of the founding of Pembroke Dock and mark that important date in both the town’s history and Royal Navy heritage”, said
Lieutenant Commander Mark Hammon RN.
It is a chance for local people to chat to members of the crew not only about HMS Pembroke and her role in the Royal Navy, but also about their experiences in the Senior Service.
At 6pm, access to the ship will be halted for Beating Retreat, which will be performed by the Royal Marines Band – members of the public can also watch this ceremonial spectacle.
On Thursday and Friday, almost 250 local youngsters – both school students and Sea Cadets – will get the opportunity to visit the ship as part of a rolling schedule of pre-arranged tours. Schools involved include Greenhill School, Pembroke College, Milford Haven School and Thomas Picton School, and Sea Cadets are from Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Tenby.
And the ship’s company will be honoured to attend a reception organised by Pembroke County Council on Friday evening, before the ship departs at approximately 8am on Saturday.
“We are thoroughly looking forward to this affiliation visit,” said HMS Pembroke’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Mark Hammon.
“It is an honour to have been invited to make this journey to support the 200th anniversary of the founding of Pembroke Dock and mark that important date in both the town’s history and Royal Navy heritage.
“I know that my ship’s company and I are very proud to be part of the formal parade and we are then delighted to be able to open our ship up to visitors immediately afterwards – we hope to welcome many on board during the three hours.”
There are no members of the crew more proud than Pembroke locals Petty Officer Darren Lacy, 43, and Able Rate Andrew Macleod, 36.
Darren, who lives in Neyland with his partner and two children, is the coxswain on board. He is also one of the ship’s divers and is responsible for a wide range of tasks including medical, executive and administrative aspects.
“It’s really quite an honour for me to be part of these bicentenary celebrations,” he said. “Living in the Pembroke Dock area for the last eight years, I am aware of the town’s significant naval history – to be able to come home as a member of the Royal Navy on a ship called HMS Pembroke for such a significant milestone is rather special.”
Andrew is one of the mine warfare sailors on board and assists with all aspects of mine hunting, including in the operations room and the launching and recovery of Sea Fox, the mine identification and disposal system on board.
He spent his first 10 years in Pembroke Dock and attended primary school in the town’s Argyle Street and he has a big group of family coming to visit the ship.
“I joined the Royal Navy in 2011 and this is the first time I’ve been able to sail into my hometown on one of my ships,” said Andrew. “It’s a very proud moment and I’m really looking forward to showing my family round the ship.”
Minehunter HMS Pembroke is one of seven Sandown-class minehunters based in Scotland.
The hull and large amounts of the superstructure are built from glass reinforced plastic (GRP), ensuring a strong non-magnetic ship, fit to survive the shocks associated with minehunting activities.
HMS Pembroke uses sonar to search underwater for mine-like contacts. Upon detection of a contact, classification runs are conducted on various frequencies
Once identified as a potential mine, the Seafox mine disposal system is able to visually identify the target as a mine and then destroy it. She also has her own mine clearance diving team which is used to identify potential mine threats beneath the surface.
Overall it is a very busy week for the Royal Navy in Wales, with HMS Dragon alongside in her affiliated city of Cardiff, where she will be honoured with the Freedom of the City, and a Meet the Marines event at Cardiff Castle, which will involve many local school and college students.
Press Release, May 15, 2014; Image: Royal Navy