Clwyd West AM Darren Millar got a greater understanding of the work of the Royal Navy in Wales, across the UK and around the globe, when he took a trip on the open seas yesterday.
Darren, who Chairs the Cross Party Group on the Armed Forces and Cadets in the National Assembly for Wales, joined a number of fellow Assembly Members, their assistants, and the Senior Navy's Regional Commander, Brig Jock Fraser RM, jumped aboard HMS Express – the only Royal Navy vessel based in Wales.
HMS Express is based at Penarth Marina. The vessel traditionally gives students of Universities in Wales a taster of the life and work of the Royal Navy during the three/four years they spend in centres of higher learning.
The ship also helps to train the wider Navy, from giving trainee navigators a chance to earn their spurs, to giving junior sailors a chance to grow and show their potential with responsibilities above and beyond those normally enjoyed by junior ratings at this stage of their careers.
“I had a great day aboard HMS Express and rubbing shoulders with people on the front line enabled me to gain a greater understanding of what our armed forces do.
“The ship is a visible and reassuring presence in Welsh waters and provides vital training opportunities for sailors and cadets. It was a thrill albeit a challenge to have the opportunity to steer the vessel!"
Lieutenant Commander James Williams, Chief-of-Staff of HMS Express’ parent 1st Patrol Boat Squadron, said the small craft are essential for keeping the Royal Navy in the public eye:
“They can demonstrate the presence of the White Ensign in places frigates and destroyers cannot, they can take groups to sea or provide training at virtually no extra cost to the Navy, and it means we don’t need to take up larger ships for training purposes,” he added.
Over the summer, Express was in the Baltic both supporting NATO and Royal Navy exercises and providing students with the experience of a warship on deployment.