HMS Kent comes home to Dover

HMS Kent returned to her namesake county and home port of Dover to mark the 101st anniversary of the Battle of the Falklands.

Royal Navy Chaplain Reverend James Francis commenced the Ship’s four day visit with a Church service on the Flight Deck to commemorate the 8 personnel from HMS Kent who gave their lives at the Battle of the Falkands on 8 December 1914.  

In a bracing wind, and with Dover Castle as the backdrop, the Ship’s Company remembered the battle and honoured those who took part with a minutes silence.

The Lord Warden, Admiral of the Fleet and Constable The Lord Boyce GCB, OBE, DL, a former First Sea Lord and Chief of Defence staff, attended lunch on board in his capacity as Lord Warden of the Cinque ports, hosted by Commanding Officer Commander Dan Thomas Royal Navy and was greeted by a Ceremonial Guard and Rule Britannia over the main broadcast.  

He was accompanied by other dignitaries, such as the Mayor of Dover, Mayor of Hythe and Speaker of the Cinque Ports, Head of the Dover Harbour Board, the Registrar of Cinque Ports, the Receiver General of Canterbury Cathedral and the Master of the Mercers Livery Company, an important and longstanding affiliate of HMS Kent. 

A CBBC team, accompanied by two children who would like to be chefs in the future, filmed in the Ship’s Galley all day during preparations for two VIP events; one is keen to join the Royal Navy when she is old enough. 

Kent’s Chefs thoroughly enjoyed having the children help out in the Galley and the children benefited from talking to the Ship’s two 18 year old chefs who recently left HMS Raleigh. HMS Kent is looking forward to seeing the episode of ‘All About the Workplace’ air later this year! 

Although members of the Ship’s Company have visited the county in recent months, the Ship itself has not returned to Dover since 2010 and it was an ideal opportunity to further strengthen the close ties between the Type 23 Frigate and her affiliates in the White Horse County.

On Tuesday 8 December friends from the Ship’s many affiliates enjoyed a morning of tours and cake and an evening Reception and Capability Demonstration for 200 guests including local dignitaries ; giving those attending an insight into HMS Kent’s many roles from anti-submarine warfare to promoting relationships abroad and in the UK through official receptions and dinners.  

The evening closed with Ceremonial Sunset, a formal lowering of the White Ensign to mark the end of the day, and the Mayor of Dover, Councillor Chris Precious being presented with the folded White Ensign.

On Wednesday afternoon members of the Ship’s Company visited Demelza House, a charity with which the Ship has strong bonds, to help clear their gardens in preparation for the winter. Leading Engineer Technicians Carr and Galpin wrestled with and eventually felled a tree whilst other members of the team cleared leaves and restored the gardens for this thoroughly worthy charity for children with life shortening illnesses. The Ship was delighted to be presented with an award by Demelza House for Outstanding Fundraising at Sea during the CO’s visit to the charity earlier this year, having raised £18,000 over the years.

RFC Dover hosted the Ship’s rugby team, Kent Crusaders (sponsored by affiliate Shepherd Neame Brewery), at their ground on Wednesday evening.  The Ship’s team managed to fit in a quick training session before the game but it was not quite enough – RFC Dover battled to a valiant win over the Crusaders: the final score was 19-12, not bad against a professional team!

As recently demonstrated by HMS Severn during her counter-narcotics operation, military units can be tasked at short notice away from their planned programme. On Wedneday 9 December HMS Kent conducted a Resilience Demonstration focussed on a theoretical scenario in which the Ship had been tasked to provide disaster relief ashore.  

Particularly pertinent during a period when parts of the UK were receiving assistance from the Armed Forces in the wake of flooding, local government and emergency services were briefed on the Ship’s ability to provide manpower and equipment if the need arises, along with a reliable and robust command and control platform.  

Key briefing points included damage control and firefighting, engineering expertise, medical assistance and sustainability.  Local police, firefighters and government emergency relief representatives were reassured that HMS Kent and the RN are ready in all respects to respond to a major operation at short notice with a wide range of equipment and expertise. 

In support of the government’s commitment to grow the Royal Navy and its reputation, local Sea Cadets were invited on board for a taste of a full career in the Navy. Several groups from the Kent area were invited on board for a tour of the Ship.  The Ship’s Officers and crew were very pleased to answer enthusiastic questions from the young cadets who were looking to join the Navy when they leave school.

The Ship sailed from Dover at the end of the week with representatives from her affiliated organisations who had been invited onboard to experience life at sea on the transit back to Portsmouth. They were not disappointed as HMS Kent fought her way through strong winds to return home, ensuring a realistic experience was had by all! 

HMS Kent continues her busy European programme after Christmas Leave, including Operational Sea Training and visits to the Mediterranean, Netherlands and Outer Hebrides.