Navy warship docks in town

Hartlepool Mayor, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, with the ship's captain, Lieutenant Commander Mark Hammon
Hartlepool Mayor, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, with the ship's captain, Lieutenant Commander Mark Hammon

A ROYAL Navy warship has docked in Hartlepool and people can get a first hand look at how it is protecting the country.

HMS Grimsby is visiting the town as part of the Royal Navy’s celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The 450-tonne vessel scours the seas across the world looking for and disposing of sea mines that threaten vital shipping lanes and the British economy.

People can get a closer insight into what the crew do when she is opened up to the public today at the Victoria Dock.

The Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, joined a host of dignitaries at a captain’s lunch on board the ship yesterday.

HMS Grimsby’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Mark Hammon, said: “I know that my crew are thrilled to be visiting the seafaring town of Hartlepool.

“I believe it is important to maintain the Royal Navy’s strong affiliation with the town, and it’s an honour to represent the RN on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, especially in a town with such an esteemed maritime history.”

Tonight the captain will join Commodore Dickie Baum, the naval regional commander for northern England, and other invited guests at a Trafalgar Night Dinner on board Hartlepool’s HMS Trincomalee.

The ship’s Navigation Officer Martyn Harris told the Mail how HMS Grimsby’s primary role is to search for and dispose of live sea mines all over the world, including the UK coast.

He said: “We are here to show the people of Hartlepool what we do.

“The fact that we are out at sea so much means we are not really in the public eye.

“If shipping lanes are jeopardised it has a direct impact on our economy so the work we do is vital.”

A good proportion of the ship’s crew hails from the North-East.

They include 26-year-old Craig Renwick, a Leading Engineering Technician, who was born in Hartlepool and grew up in Billingham.

“It’s good to be back in my home area, it means I get to go home at night.”

Town youth groups and cadets toured the mine-hunter in the afternoon.

HMS Grimsby will set sail from Hartlepool on Sunday lunchtime for Newcastle where it will take part in more Trafalgar Day commemorations before returning to official duty. She is open to visit today between 10am and 4pm.

Visitors are asked to report to the Cleveland Road gate for access.