One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Warship Comes To Poole!
Royal Navy warship HMS Cattistock is visiting Poole on May 6 for the start of a five-day visit, during which the ship will be open to visitors.
The 750-tonne Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures Vessel (MCMV) will go alongside Town Quay, and for the ship's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Adam Northover, it is a visit to relish.
The Dorset town played a key role in Adam's decision to join the Royal Navy and he is looking forward to renewing the ship's relationship with its affiliated town. He explained:
"I visited Town Quay, Poole in HMSTC Chaser (Her Majesty's Sail Training Craft) in 1991, before I joined the Royal Navy, while on a Potential Officer's Course. It was the warm welcome the yacht got in the town that made me think more seriously about joining up."
Lieutenant Commander Northover and his ship's company will host a formal reception for invited guests on the Friday night, before inviting school pupils and cadets on board over the weekend. However, one of the highlights of the ship's visit is when her crew throw open her gangway to the general public on Saturday from 2pm until 5pm, then again on Sunday from 11am until 5pm.
The people of Poole are welcome to tour the ship and learn more about life in the Royal Navy, the career opportunities that are available and about HMS Cattistock herself.
MCMV crews rotate around the eight ships in the the 2nd Mine Countermeasures Squadron - including spending time on operations in the MCMVs stationed in the North Arabian Gulf.
"We have just spent seven months in the testing operational environment that is the Gulf, so it is a delight for my crew to return to a ship with such a good reputation for professionalism and output. It is even more pleasing to visit Poole, a town with so many connections with HMS Cattistock. During our time alongside we very much hope to welcome onboard those from our affiliated village to the north of the county, as well as the good people of Poole and Dorset."
During the visit, Lt Cdr Northover will be taking part in the Mayor Making ceremony and the naming of the Cattistock Room at Poole Town Hall on the morning of Tuesday, May 10. At 1pm, the Royal Marines Band Plymouth will play a Beat Retreat for the official party at Town Quay - a spectacle also open to view by the public - before the dignitaries, including the Naval Regional Commander for the area, Commodore Jamie Miller, retire for a civic lunch at Old Custom House.
HMS Cattistock is 60 metres long with a beam of 10m and is the largest warship ever constructed from glass reinforced plastic. The ship carries a crew of 45, many of them clearance divers whose job it is to swim to mines in order to place explosives; however, the ship also has a mine disposal system consisting of a remote controlled submersible.
The ship also has a 30mm gun, two general purpose machine gun positions as well as two rapid firing Gattling-style machine guns for self defence, making her a versatile vessel capable of re-deploying as a patrol craft should the need arise.
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