Britain’s newest warship and the Band of the Royal Marines spent four days in the Norwegian capital to help the country celebrate the 200th birthday of their Navy.
Destroyer HMS Duncan enjoyed a prime berth in the shadow of Oslo’s famous Akershus Fortress as ships from across Europe converged on Oslo for anniversary events.
They were joined by military bands from around Europe, including the Massed Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines who performed both in the streets of Oslo and at Norway’s military tattoo, watched by some 20,000 people.
Celebrations in Oslo were the latest in a series of events in ports around Norway as part of Sjøforsvaret 200 (‘Navy 200’), which saw HMS Mersey visit Bergen, home of the Norwegian Navy, last month.
“It is only the second foreign port visit for HMS Duncan but one that will be fondly remembered by all involved for a long time to come”, said Commander James Stride RN.
Eleven ships, four of them from the host nation, attended proceedings in Oslo with Portsmouth-based Duncan – Britain’s sixth and final Type 45 destroyer – the largest participant.
As the largest and most advanced ship attending celebrations, Duncan drew large crowds. In the five hours her gangway was opened to the public, 2,165 Norwegians came aboard.
Even more Osloers caught sight of the destroyer’s ship’s company on the streets of the capital as they took part in an international march past and parade with sailors from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Poland and the Netherlands.
“I was very proud to be representing my country and the Royal Navy as we marched through Oslo. It was fantastic to see so many people out to watch the parade,” said Able Seaman (Warfare Specialist) Jack Keeling.
Other activities included hosting Anglo-Norwegian talks between Rear Admiral Matt Parr (the RN’s Commander Operations) and Rear Admiral Lars Saunes (Head of the Royal Norwegian Navy); sailors also attended the tattoo at which the Royal Marines musicians performed and a dinner at which the King of Norway was guest of honour.
The various ships taking part in festivities all provided teams for an international tug-of-war competition, but the Brits were defeated by a strong Polish team from the landing ship ORP Gniezno.
“The people of Oslo were wonderful hosts and Oslo a very beautiful city,” said Cdr James Stride, HMS Duncan’s Commanding Officer.
“It is only the second foreign port visit for HMS Duncan but one that will be fondly remembered by all involved for a long time to come.”
The visit of one of the Royal Navy’s most modern and powerful warships helped to underline the close relationship between Norway and the United Kingdom and in particular their navies.
The Royal Norwegian Navy operated from Britain after being exiled from their home country by the German invasion in 1940 and the co-operation between the two services continued throughout the Cold War right up to the present day with counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and removing chemical weapons from Syria which is ongoing.
Press Release, May 20, 2014; Image: Royal Navy