CHESTER’S adopted Royal Navy warship is on the first leg of a major operational deployment which will contribute to maritime security and strengthen UK partnerships across the Mediterranean and Middle East.
HMS Albion, the flagship of the Royal Navy, left Devonport naval base in early April and could be away from home for up to six months.
The 18,500-tonne amphibious assault ship is leading the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) to the crisis-hit Middle East.
Consisting of ships, aircraft and Royal Marines held at high readiness, RFTG is at the heart of the UK’s ability to react at short notice to unforeseen global events.
HMS Albion’s commanding officer, Captain James Morley, said: “I speak for everybody aboard HMS Albion when I say how proud we are to be the Royal Navy’s flagship. The ship’s company will be away from their loved ones over spring and summer, so the fact we sail with the support and good wishes of so many people back home is immensely important to us. Our relationship with the people of Chester in particular is highly prized.”
HMS Albion, which was launched by the Princess Royal in 2001, has a civic affiliation with Chester, and is linked to organisations, charities and businesses throughout the North West, including 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshires), Vauxhall, Claire House Hospice, Land Rover and the Albion Inn, Chester.
It demonstrated its versatility last year when the ship was sent to Spain to help evacuate British citizens left stranded by the volcanic ash cloud, while sister ship HMS Bulwark played a key role in evacuating British nationals from crisis hit Lebanon in 2006.