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NAVY NEWS, AUGUST 2010 11 Pole position


WHILE all eyes were fi xed on Cardiff for Armed Forces Day (see page 13), one week beforehand the Welsh capital hosted more solemn ceremonies to commemorate one of the Royal Navy’s most famous – and tragic –


ill-fated explorer’s ship Terra Nova departed Cardiff, the present-day survey ship named for the South Pole explorer could be found in Cardiff’s Britannia Quay at the heart of a week of commemorative events. Scott led a five-strong party in a bid to become the first


person to reach the South Pole – only to be beaten in the attempt by Roald Amundsen. The Norwegian led his team back to safety and glory. Scott’s team perished, but entered immortality. A century later, a large crowd gathered to watch tugs helping HMS Scott – whose most recent deployment, fi ttingly, was to the Antarctic – into the narrow confi nes of the lock leading to the quay.


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As soon as the survey ship was secured alongside, Commanding Offi cer Cdr Gary Hesling paid an offi cial visit to the city’s lord mayor, while on the quayside reservists from HMS Cambria, the local URNU and Sea Cadets held divisions. That was followed by an official reception for 200 guests


and VIPs, including Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones, and the Navy Regional Commander for Wales and the West of England, Cdre Jamie Miller. The second day alongside saw more visitors aboard – this time students from local 6th form colleges and Cardiff University students who either had an interest in hydrography, geology, and geography (slap bang within HMS Scott’s remit), or the wider Royal Navy. Other visitors to the Scott included the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Swansea – the ship’s affi liated city – who invited the ship’s company to an evening in Mansion House to relax a little and strengthen bonds between the ship and the Welsh city.


And then came more general visitors. Three thousand to be precise as the survey vessel opened its gangway to visitors.


The ship’s company had arranged numerous demonstrations and displays,


including paintings by


artist Rowan Huntley who accompanied Scott during the Antarctic deployment, plus the images of LA(Phot) Karen Williams, the offi cal RN photographer for the trip south (it’s her shots which also adorn this page). The British Antarctic Survey brought various pieces of equipment which their personnel take with them on an expedition and the Scott Polar Research Institute staged an exhibition of photographs by the great Herbert Ponting, who accompanied Scott’s fi nal expedition.


fi gures: Capt Robert Falcon Scott. One hundred years to the day – June 15 1910 – that the


Demonstrations of fi re fi ghting and damage control equipment proved to be especially popular, particularly with local Sea Cadets, who were given a chance to show off their firefighting skills after a tour of the ship. Hoses were rigged on the foredeck and water was


turned on. Participants quickly realised how wet they’d get, but the enthusiasm and enjoyment could be seen on their faces as the cadets squelched along the jetty to waiting parents (who probably weren’t quite so enthusiastic about soaking kids sitting in their cars...). To help with the hosting of so many events onboard – and help their training – 17 chefs and stewards from the logistics school at HMS Raleigh were dispatched to Scott. For many it was the fi rst time onboard a sea- going ship, serving food to both crew and guests at offi cial functions. Despite the busy schedule some of the ship’s company got the chance to visit some of Cardiff’s sights, including the Millennium Stadium and Welsh Assembly Building – an architectural marvel, according to the sailors. The visit to Cardiff reached its climax on the centennial of Terra Nova’s


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departure. A VIP breakfast was provided aboard Scott for dignitaries such as as members of the Captain Scott Society, Cardiff’s lord mayor and Cdre Miller.


With the aid of the Band of the


Royal Marines ceremonial colours was held on Scott’s quarterdeck. Then the ship’s company lined


the survey vessel’s decks to wave off the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos as she re-enacted Terra Nova’s historic departure. “It was an honour and privilege for HMS Scott to participate in the commemorative events to remember and recognize the remarkable achievements of Captain Scott and his expedition party,” said Cdr Hesling. “It could be no more fi tting for


the Royal Navy’s ocean survey vessel, named after Captain Scott and recently returned from her inaugural deployment to Antarctica, to be in Cardiff to remember a fellow naval offi cer who was amongst the great Antarctic explorers.”


Sceptre’s apple bye


THERE’LL be plenty to drink when HMS Sceptre ends her life as she began it. Britain’s oldest nuclear


submarine was launched not with champers but with the shattering of a bottle of cider against her hull on the slipway at Barrow back in 1976. So it’s only right that the same tipple marks the hunter-killer’s passing a generation later. The cider comes courtesy of


Gaymer’s, who invited the boat’s senior ratings to the Royal Bath and West Show and offered to provide their produce for the decommissioning ceremony. A couple of barrels of


Gaymer’s will be making their way to the boat in time for the decommissioning, while the cider fi rm now has a Sceptre plaque and captain’s coin as a thank-you. Sceptre’s passing after 32 years’


decommissioning ceremony in Devonport (where the boat will be laid up rather than her traditional home on the Clyde) will celebrate the service the entire class has performed. To that end, the ceremony is open to everyone who served in an S-boat, not just Sceptre, on a fi rst-come, fi rst-served basis. “December 10 will be a poignant day as we say goodbye not only to Sceptre, but also see the end of the S-boat programme,” said Sceptre’s fi nal CO Cdr Steve Waller. “Rest assured, we will make the most of this opportunity to commemorate the work of the Swiftsure class.”


service brings the curtain down on the Swiftsure class, boats which have served the nation since the early 1970s. The December 10


The decommissioning will see ceremonial divisions, followed by a drinks reception and buffet. Tickets are £10, available from decommissioning offi cer Lt Mike Hitchings, HMS Sceptre, BFPO 380.


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