HMS Albion begins six-day visit to Liverpool and Chester

Britain’s flagship today arrived on Merseyside for a six-day visit to the North-West – reaffirming bonds with the region and especially her adopted city.

HMS Albion berthed at Liverpool’s cruise liner terminal ready for a series of high-profile events, culminating in a parade on Sunday through the heart of Chester in front of Princess Royal, the assault ship’s sponsor who launched the vessel in Barrow more than 18 years ago.

Before making the short trip to Cheshire’s county town, there’s the chance for Merseyside folk to look around Albion, which is capable of landing Royal Marines and their kit on hostile shores by day and night using an array of landing craft or commando-carrying helicopters.

The ship will be open to the public on Saturday between 12pm and 4.30pm (last entry 4pm) with the opportunity to chat with crew as they look around the vehicle deck – from where landing craft are launched – the flight and upper deck.

Once the public have left, the flagship will host yet more guests as 120 VIPs from the region come aboard for a demonstration of what the 350 men and women on board are capable of, followed by a ceremonial sunset.

In Chester, a recruiting team from the ship will be out in force on Bridge Street between mid-day and 4pm on Saturday.

And on Sunday, crowds are expected to line the route to welcome the crew of sailors and Royal Marines.

This promises to be a very special event for the city and I’d encourage people to come along to town hall square to view the parade or enter the ballot to be part of the cathedral celebration event.

Chester’s Lord Mayor

Princess Anne will inspect the ship’s company in the city’s town hall square before the sailors and Royal Marines march off around the heart of Chester with ”bands playing, Bayonets fixed and Colours flying” as Albion exercises her ancient rite of the Freedom of the City. Events begin at 10am.

A plaque to celebrate the town hall’s 150th birthday will also be unveiled by the Princess Royal with Lord Mayor of Chester Mark Williams and a service of celebration and commemoration will be held in the city’s cathedral, hosted by Captain Peter Laughton, Albion’s Commanding Officer.

And back in Liverpool, there’s another demonstration on Tuesday, this time for local health, police and civic authorities to see how the ship – perennially described as the Navy’s ‘Swiss Army Knife’ – can provide assistance in the event of a major incident or disaster on home soil, such as a flood, mass casualty event or terrorist attack.

Chester’s Lord Mayor said: “HMS Albion was granted the Freedom of the City of Chester in 2003 and has always enjoyed strong links with our city. We’re incredibly proud to host the Princess Royal to inspect the ship’s company and celebrate this relationship with what promises to be a spectacular parade, as well as commemorate the Town Hall’s 150th birthday.