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HMS Scott Commemorates Captain Scott of the Antarctic

HMS Scott Commemorates Captain Scott of the Antarctic

As the Royal Navy is steeped in tradition, history and remembrance, HMS Scott recently paid Cardiff a visit to mark the anniversary of Captain Scott sailing on his last expedition to the Antarctic.

On 15th June one hundred years ago Captain Scott sailed from Cardiff, setting out to explore the frozen continent of Antarctica and making his attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. The expedition was a success in that the British team did reach the pole. Sadly, Captain Scott and his four man party perished on the return journey.

HMS Scott alongside in Cardiff ©2010 MOD HMS Scott
HMS Scott alongside in Cardiff
©2010 MOD HMS Scott

To mark this, HMS Scott (named after Captain Scott), after her recent return from Antarctica entered Britannia Quay, Cardiff for a week of commemorative events.

Coming through the very narrow approaches in the Quay proved to be a challenge for both the Bridge team and the part of ship hands as the Scott was slowly manoeuvred into position by tugs. This was quite a spectacle for the public who could virtually reach out and touch the ship as she passed through the final lock, towering over the adjacent four storey houses.

As soon as the ship was secured alongside there was much interest in the ship. The opening day of the celebrations began with the Commanding Officer, Commander Gary Hesling, calling on the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. This was followed by divisions on the quayside by HMS Cambria; URNU and Sea Cadets, this generated a great deal of interest by the general public who enjoyed the atmosphere on Britannia Quay. On completion a reception was held onboard HMS Scott, hosting 200 guests and VIPs. Amongst those in attendance were the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Commodore Miller (Navy Regional Commander for Wales and the West of England) and the First Minister of Wales (Carwyn Jones).

On the second day alongside, the ship paid host to sixth formers and Cardiff University students who either had an interest in hydrography, geology, geography, or the navy in general.

The following two days saw the ship open to visitors, which proved a major success, with numbers reaching around 3,000 over the two days. Onboard there were a number of displays and demonstrations put on by the ship's crew and affiliates. Displays included our artist Rowan Huntley's paintings produced during Scott's Antarctic deployment, photographs taken by Leading Photographer Williams and displays of both GPMG and mini-guns. Demonstrations of fire fighting and damage control equipment proved to be especially popular not just for children but for grown ups too. The British Antarctic Survey brought onboard and displayed various pieces of equipment that their personnel take with them on an expedition whilst demonstrating their role in upholding the Antarctic Treaty.

Professor Dowdeswell (SPRI) being welcomed aboard by Commander Gary Hesling RN ©2010 MOD HMS Scott
Professor Dowdeswell (SPRI) being welcomed
aboard by Commander Gary Hesling RN
©2010 MOD HMS Scott

The Scott Polar Research Institute hosted an exhibition of photographs taken by Herbert Ponting during Scott's expedition. The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust provided displays that talked about what can be done to help with the preservation of this frozen frontier and its historic sites.

Other visitors to HMS Scott included Heads of Government, the Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Swansea (HMS Scott's affiliated city) and Cardiff. To welcome HMS Scott back to Wales the Lord Mayor of Swansea invited the ship's company to an evening in Mansion House, Swansea, which was a time for relaxation and to further strengthen bonds between HMS Scott and the city of Swansea.

Continuing with the celebrations; local cadets were invited onboard and after a ships tour, they participated in fire fighting and damage control techniques. Hoses were rigged on the fore deck and water was turned on and participants soon realised how wet they were to become. This was a great success and the enthusiasm and enjoyment could be seen on their faces as the cadets squelched along the jetty to their awaiting parents!

To help with hosting events onboard and to aid with their training 17 chefs and stewards from HMS Raleigh joined HMS Scott for the busy visit. For many it was the first time onboard a sea going ship, serving food to a ship's company and guests at official functions, providing invaluable experience prior to them joining the Fleet.

Despite the busy schedule a portion of the ship's company were given a chance to visit some of the sights of Cardiff, including the home of Welsh rugby, the Millennium stadium and Welsh Assembly building, which in itself was an architectural marvel.

On 15th June, to mark the centenary of Terra Nova sailing from Cardiff, HMS Scott lined her decks, accompanied by a Royal Marines band to wave off the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos as she re-enacted the historical scene.

Prior to Stavros sailing, a VIP breakfast was held onboard in Scott's Wardroom hosting such dignitaries as distinguished members of the Captain Scott Society, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and Commodore Miller. With the aid of the Royal Marines band ceremonial colours was held on the quarterdeck of Scott.

The ship's visit to Cardiff generated marked interest in HMS Scott's important survey work around the world and in particular that conducted in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. Scott's visit to Cardiff placed the Royal Navy in the public eye prior to Armed Forces Day on June 26, when Cardiff plays host to the annual event. This will be the second year that Cardiff will offer all three services a chance to show the public what they can accomplish and allow the public to share their appreciation to the men and women who serve in their armed forces.

On the visit to Cardiff Commander Gary Hesling said:

"It has been an honour and privilege for HMS Scott to participate in the commemorative events to remember and recognize the remarkable achievements of Captain Scott and his expedition party. It could be no more fitting for the Royal Navy's Ocean Survey Vessel, named after Captain Scott, and recently returned from her inaugural deployment to Antarctica, to be here in Cardiff to remember a fellow naval officer who was amongst the great Antarctic explorers."