Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster anchors in Belizean waters whilst on Caribbean deployment.
HMS Lancaster, one of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates made a 4 day visit to Belize and was anchored off Belize City during the weekend of the country’s Independence Day celebrations. The ship arrived in the morning of 20 September and remained in Belizean waters until returning to sea on 24 September to continue its ongoing commitment within the region.
The Lancaster, known as ‘The Queen’s Frigate’ as Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster, is in the region on a challenging deployment where she continues to undertake a range of tasks across the Caribbean in support of British interests. Taskings include focus on the reassurance and security of the British Overseas territories, the provision of humanitarian aid and disaster relief during the hurricane season and counter narcotics operations with partner nations.
Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Steve Moorhouse welcomed the British High Commissioner Peter Hughes OBE and the visiting Defence Attaché from Jamaica, Lt Col Patrick Brown onboard as soon as all necessary anchoring tasks were completed then the trio headed ashore for an afternoon of official calls. Later that evening the Commander attended a reception and flag raising ceremony hosted by the Governor General, Sir Colville Young GCMG MBE.
The next day, a squad of sailors from HMS Lancaster took part in Belize’s National Independence celebrations and parade in Belmopan. The members of the ships company joined the Belize Defence Force and local organisations in a 4 mile march through the streets of the capital city.
During the visit, the crew of the Lancaster’s Lynx helicopter conducted a flight over the Baldy Beacon and Guacamollo Bridge training areas in support of the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB). Lt Craig Farquharson, one of the pilots said:
Our sortie took us over the sites that are to be used in the near future for training and we were shown the density of the Belize jungle, reiterating why it is such a valuable location for training armed forces. Also, the fact that the aircraft landed behind the High Commission on the day of the parade meant that a large number of the local residents were able to speak to us and have a look at the aircraft. It was fantastic to integrate with the community and give them a brief insight into what the Royal Navy and Lancaster does and will continue to do over the next three months.
The Commanding Officer and some of his company, together with the High Commissioner, attended a memorial service at Price Barracks, home of BATSUB and the Belize Defence Force where Commander Moorhouse laid a wreath to honour those servicemen who lost their lives while serving in Belize.
As well as carrying out official business, the ship hosted an evening reception and capability demonstration on board which was attended by local government ministers, diplomats and businessmen as well as members of the British expat community.
Other visits and guided tours of the ship that took place included personnel from the Belize Sea Cadets as well as members of the High Commission, BATSUB, Royal British Legion and local press. A party of children and staff from Liberty Children’s home also toured the ship and the Commanding Officer and the High Commissioner handed over a cheque for BZ$ 1000.00 during their visit. The ships company took the opportunity for some well deserved shore leave which included football and cricket matches against teams from BATSUB, the British Legion and the Belize Defence Force. Unfortunately, due to torrential downpours, the games were cut somewhat short.
Before the Lancaster set sail to continue its counter narcotics patrols in the Central Caribbean, Commander Moorhouse said:
It was a great honour and a privilege for me to be able to bring Lancaster to Belize and take part in the Independence Day celebrations. Belize has a long and rich history with the UK and the Royal Navy in particular and I believe that our visit has renewed old friendships and helped establish many new ones. Whilst we are in the region we will continue to support the people of Belize in any way we can.
HMS Lancaster is due to return to the UK in December.