Thank you to Captain Alex Burton and all the ship's company for making me so welcome aboard the Royal Naval Flagship, HMS Bulwark. This was a fascinating insight into the workings of this warship described by Captain Burton as the 'Swiss Army Knife' of the fleet. She is able to deliver the power of the Royal Marines by air and sea carrying over 250 marines with their vehicles and supplies as well as commanding and coordinating operations from on board the ship. As an island nation with 600 ports, around 300 offshore installations and an important fishing industry, we are absolutely dependent on the security of our seas. UK-based shipping contributes £10bn per year to GDP and needs protection both at home and abroad.
The crew are on 48 hours notice to be available to spearhead operations anywhere in the world which places a heavy responsibility on the crew to be in a constant state of readiness. I was impressed by their rigorous training programme and conviction that every crew member is essential to the smooth running of the ship, often trained for several roles.
HMS Bulwark has already demonstrated her role in humanitarian assistance and conflict prevention as well as promoting partnerships through joint exercises with the French Navy. None of this would be possible without the professionalism and dedication of the ship's company.
As a former 'air force baby' I particularly enjoyed visiting the landing platform although being more used to runways it looked like an impossibly small ...and moving target for a landing!