HMS Express

HMS Express

HMS Express is based at Penarth Marina in Cardiff Bay and is the Wales University Royal Naval Unit with undergraduates drawn from Cardiff, Swansea and Glamorgan Universities and University of Wales Institute Cardiff. 

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The URNU is based at HMS Cambria, a Royal Navy Reserve establishment near Cardiff.

During term time the ship spends weekends at sea, visiting ports in the Bristol Channel. Over Easter and Summer Express deploys further afield to European ports.

Other adventurous training activities have, included the Three Peaks Challenge, skiing, scuba diving, hill walking, parachuting, flying, mountaineering, caving, abseiling and skid car driving. 

An active social programme includes formal events like the annual mess dinner and receptions.

Wales URNU recruits predominantly at Freshers’ Fais across South Wales, for further information please contact the unit at, or at the address below;

Wales URNU, C/O HMS Cambria, Hayes Point, Sully, South Glamorgan,CF64 5XU. 

Tel 01446744044


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Current operation University Training

To provide high-quality sea training experiences to undergraduates from universities, developing seamanship, teambuilding and leadership skills in a maritime environment. These ships also support the Fleet in a range of tasking around the UK and European waters, showing the White Ensign in places that larger vessels cannot reach.

  • Alongside

    Alongside in her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base

Location UK

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Unit History

The First HMS Express1695

The current HMS Express is the ninth vessel to carry the name.
Number one was a six-gun advice boat, built in Portsmouth Dockyard in 1695, and sold at the start of 1712.

The Second HMS Express1800

The second a six-gun schooner launched at Rotherhithe in 1800 and sold in 1813.

The Third HMS Express1808

The third, another advice boat bought from the Americans in 1808, which had a notable role in the Battle of Martinique of 1809.

The Fourth HMS Express1815

Number four was a 12-gun schooner built at Plymouth Dockyard in 1815 and sold in Malta 12 years later.

The Fifth HMS Express1835

The fifth Express was a little larger – a six-gun packet brig of 360 tons launched at Deptford on 8 October 1835 and sold in early 1862.

The Sixth HMS Express1874

Next came a 455-ton screw gunboat, launched at Doxford on 16 July 1874 and sold 15 years later.

The Seventh HMS Express1897

The next ship was a 500-ton destroyer from Laird, launched on 11 December 1897 and sold in March 1921.

The Eighth Express1934

The eighth Express was a 1,375-ton E-class destroyer, launched by Swan Hunter on 29 May 1934.

World War 21943

Serving at Dunkirk and in the far East, then transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in mid-1943, she continued to play an active role in the war. She was sunkin the mid-1950s.

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Commanding Officer Gemma Britton

Rank: Lieutenant

Lieutenant Gemma Britton joined the Royal Navy in 2006, she is now the Commanding Officer of HMS Express.

Previous units

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HMS Express has a maximum complement of 5 people 


HMS Express was involved in the 2012 olympics

HMNB Portsmouth

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