Thank you to Captain Cox and all his Dragons, for hosting us on board, HMS DRAGON, this evening.
It has been a wonderful week here at Exponaval, where the Chilean Navy has hosted an excellent international exhibition, bringing together representatives from many different countries, showcasing advanced technologies and also encouraging all of us to think about the challenges for navies, and for the maritime industry, of energy efficiency and environmental impacts.
What unites us all is the sea. In my own case, my great- grandmother grew up on a coastguard ship - the Pelter Brig - beached off Folkestone, England. She came from a long line of coastguards and sailors, including, it is said, an ancestor who served in Nelson’s navy, so the sea must be in my genes somewhere. There is a famous English poem:
‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.’
Those opening lines are from ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield, who was the Poet Laureate in the UK for much of the 20th century, and who wrote many maritime poems. He came to Chile on his first sea voyage, although had to be sent home as a distressed British sailor - clearly an earlier consular case! At this point, I would like to pay tribute to the work of Ian Hardy, who does so much for us as the British Honorary Consul, here in Valparaiso.
John Masefield also wrote another famous poem ‘Cargoes’, evoking goods moving across the world, through the centuries. That imagery was brought to life this morning by Rose George, the British writer, whose keynote address, at ExpoNaval, highlighted the importance of trade, and container shipping, for all of us in the world today; combined with the environmental impacts of shipping on our world.
In thinking about the sea, let us remember all that our navies do to protect our shipping, deal with piracy, keep us safe, and address security threats, including those who make the ultimate sacrifice. This week we remembered those who lost their lives at the Battle of Coronel, which was the first naval engagement of the First World War, and which took place off the coast of Chile.
Tonight we are on a beautiful ship, sleek in design, advanced in its technology. But what struck me are also the values of her crew - commitment, courage, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty. Qualities also of the Chilean Navy. And so tonight, I hope that all of us will join in thanking the Chilean Navy for welcoming us to Exponaval, and in celebrating all those who serve the sea.