THE Royal Navy’s amphibious flagship HMS Albion is to renew its strong links with Chester with a parade through the city on Thursday.
The vessel docks at Liverpool’s Cruise Liner Terminal on Tuesday March 9 and the ship’s company will spend four days in Chester.
Formalities will begin on Tuesday evening with an on-board reception for Chester VIPs hosted by commanding officer, Captain John Kingwell.
The highlight of the visit will be the ship’s company exercising its Freedom of Chester with a parade through the city centre at 3pm on Thursday.
This will be followed by a service in Chester Cathedral where Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, will dedicate and bless the new ship’s bell, and an official civic reception in the city’s Guildhall will be hosted by The Lord Mayor, Cllr John Ebo.
There will also be a friendly football match between Cheshire Police and the ship’s crew.
The Freedom of Chester was bestowed on HMS Albion in 2003 and it was in September 2008 that members of the crew last exercised their ancient right to march through the city.
Captain John Kingwell said: “We are delighted to be visiting Chester. We pride ourselves on the close links we maintain with our affiliates in Chester and always look forward to spending time in the city.
“It may only be 18 months since we were last in the north west, but when the opportunity arose to renew links and friendships, we were only too happy to seize the chance.”
Cllr Ebo said: “Chester is proud of its long association with the Royal Navy and with HMS Albion and I am sure that the ship’s company will be given a marvellous welcome when they march through the city.”
HMS Albion is one of the UK’s largest and most technologically advanced amphibious assault and command and control ships.
It is en route from winter training in Norway where the amphibious battle staff, along with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines has been exercising with other NATO forces in Exercise Cold Response 2010.