Somerset visits Scilly Islands
Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset arrived in the Isles of Scilly over the weekend to support the islands’ 70th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of the Atlantic and to reaffirm relations.
Whilst anchored in St Mary’s Roads the ship welcomed more than 500 islanders and tourists on board from Friday to Sunday, with an official reception held for 90 dignitaries on arrival.
Sea boat and boarding team displays were followed by a tour of the ship’s key compartments and then a traditional Naval sunset ceremony concluded a busy first day.
Saturday’s busy programme of events began with HMS Somerset opening her gangway to allow members of the public on board with around 400 people arriving for a tour of the ship.
A White Ensign was flown over Star Castle in St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon, ahead of a formal commemoration service to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. Members of HMS Somerset’s ship’s company attended the event along with 600 members of the public.
A twelve man guard of honour was formed as a mark of respect and was the centre piece of the commemoration.
Commodore Jamie Miller CBE, Naval Regional Commander (Wales and Western England), was the senior military attendee present and he paid tribute to the contribution made by Scilly islanders during the long and hard-fought campaign.
He also personally thanked two surviving Battle of the Atlantic veterans who were in attendance and the White Ensign was lowered during the closing ceremonial sunset.
HMS Somerset’s contribution to the Battle of Atlantic 70th anniversary commemorations on St Mary’s is similar to events that the Royal Navy has been involved in around the country.
Guard Commander, Lieutenant Gary Turner:
“We were honoured to be able to play our part in supporting the islands’ commemoration service to mark the Battle of the Atlantic 70th Anniversary and the contribution made by Scilly islanders.
“A Royal Navy guard of honour, Royal Marine buglers and a ceremonial sunset overlooking the Atlantic Ocean was a fitting tribute to the longest military campaign of the Second World War.”
HMS Somerset’s Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Smith said:
“It has been a pleasure welcoming islanders onboard HMS Somerset and helping them understand a little more about the role the modern Royal Navy has in protecting our nation’s interests both at home and further afield around the globe.
“As the West Country’s favourite warship, it is fantastic to be able to visit the most westerly part of England and be made to feel so welcome.”
The Island’s school children were also given the opportunity to visit HMS Somerset on Sunday morning. Around 100 enthusiastic youngsters toured the ship and were given the opportunity to get up close and personal with capability such as the Merlin helicopter.