Northumberland’s surprise visit to Iceland to catch the Euros final

Why was one of the Royal Navy’s major warships anchored in a remote bay in Iceland?

That was the question inhabitants of Skagafjörður (pronounced skaga-fjor-dis) – a fjord around 180 miles northeast of the capital Reykjavik – asked themselves when they saw HMS Northumberland offshore.

The waters of Skagafjörður are more used to hosting either whales or fishing vessels.

So locals came to two conclusions: either birdwatching, for the inlet – 25 miles long and ten wide – is world-renown for its avian delights, puffins especially; or to watch football and the big local derby between Tindastól and KFS in the Icelandic men’s 3rd Division.


After extensive training in the less-than-clement North Atlantic, the Devonport-based ship asked for – and received – permission from the Icelandic authorities to take a little breather in their waters to give the 180 sailors a chance to relax, recharge… and enjoy a weekend of sport… beamed aboard on TVs in the messes and wardroom by satellite.

Having lapped up both Wimbledon finals, Northumberland weighed anchor in time for the Euro decider between England and Italy to be in the best position for a signal.

Sadly, none of the crew managed to get ashore to enjoy the “balmy weather” (17 Celsius, which is about as warm as it ever gets in Iceland) or get up close with the puffin populace.

The frigate is now continuing her training and is due to return to Devonport next month.

As for the big match, second-from-bottom KFS upset their hosts 2-1.