Monday, August 23, 2010

Navy Days spectacle attracts 25,000 visitors

WITH everything from pirates to skydiving soldiers and a teddy bear driving a jeep, the Navy’s flagship public event of the year attracted more than 25,000 visitors.
Navy Days – this year spread over three days in Portsmouth Naval Base – saw people traveling from the West Midlands, Surrey and Bedfordshire to see the Royal Navy and Royal Marines of the past, present and future.
The £1bn warships HMS Dauntless and Daring proved the biggest draws, but despite the substantial size of Britain’s two newest destroyers, they were dwarfed by aviation training and casualty treatment ship RFA Argus.
The latter, fresh from refit, opened up her hospital to give the public a rare glimpse of the military’s state-of-the-art floating medical facilities.
Also on show were frigates Westminster, Cumberland, and Richmond, fishery protection ship HMS Tyne. minehunter HMS Cattistock and landing craft Aachen.
The Royal Marines’ Fleet Protection Group demonstrated how they could take down pirates by rapid roping from a Lynx, a vintage Hawker Sea Hawk jet demonstrated its graceful lines over Portsmouth Harbour, the Black Cats Lynx display demonstrated they could pirouette and dance through the sky, and the Royal Artillery Black Knights parachute display team demonstrated that they could leap into the water… but not walk on it.
The whole event was brought to a close on Sunday evening by the Band of HM Royal MarinesBeating the Retreat through the dockyard to Victory Gate.
“We were lucky with the weather but we were also pleased that the scale and variety of the whole event proved so popular,” said Robert Bruce, managing director of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard which jointly staged the event with the Naval Base.
“We have had many more visitors than is normal, even on a busy summer’s weekend and we are delighted with the result.”
Naval Base Commander Cdre Rob Thompson added: “Navy Days was a huge success. The mainly dry and warm weather played a part but a big draw was seeing the Royal Navy’s ships and personnel at close hand.
“The event proved an exciting opportunity to show the general public the wide role of the Royal Navy and what its men and women are up to across the globe – from taking to the fight to the Taleban in Afghanistan to countering pirates in the Gulf of Aden.”
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