Royal Navy sails into Kiel Week

Thousands of people have flocked to Kiel Naval Base in Germany to visit ships from around the world – including six Royal Navy vessels.

With three warships having just completed a multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea, and a further three P2000s on their summer deployment, Kiel Week was the perfect location to regroup, share experiences and meet new people before each ship headed its own way.

For Her Majesty’s Ships Ocean, Iron Duke and Quorn; Kiel was the last port of call at the end of NATO’s intense BALTOPS 15 exercise. 

The three vessels have spent two weeks working alongside allies and partners from 17 nations on NATO’s largest maritime exercise of the year which involved 49 ships with HMS Ocean at the centre of the action.

But also playing an important role was the Portsmouth based minehunter HMS Quorn which was the first to arrive in Kiel.

HMS Quorn’s Navigation officer, Lieutenant Kyle Walkley, said: “We are in Kiel having just completed a very successful BALTOPS 15 with us being one of 49 ships. The international flavour is amazing here as you’ve got people in attendance from South America, Australia and Japan. 

“The level of interest is incredible and we are delighted to be taking part in it and representing the UK and the Royal Navy before an international audience.

“There are more than a dozen NATO partners so we have the opportunity to meet and learn from these partners.”

We are in Kiel having just completed a very successful BALTOPS 15 with us being one of 49 ships.

Lieutenant Kyle Walkley, HMS Quorn’s Navigation officer

Also on board HMS Quorn on his first ever deployment is 26-year-old Londoner, Alessandro Bonato, one of the ship’s divers. He added: “We’ve had a really hands on deployment so far, searching for and destroying historic ordnance in the Baltic Sea before then going straight into BALTOPS, so for us stopping in Kiel has come as a welcome stop. 

“The reception has been fantastic, the German public have been really friendly and interested in what we do. We’ve also taken part in sports events, sadly we lost on the rugby field but as a small minehunter crew with little training we did our best.” 

Kiel Week is the world’s largest sailing event, and with a global appeal, it annually attracts more than three million visitors to the seaside city.

This year three P2000 University Royal Navy Unit (URNU) fast patrol vessels also attended Kiel week.

Her Majesty’s Ships Charger, Example and Ranger are all in the first leg of their summer deployment carrying up to 12 students from their affiliated university.

Fourteen UK universities are affiliated with Royal Navy P2000s with each unit having between 50 and 60 students who act as the ship’s company on board, learning vital seamanship skills, life building skills and teamwork. As well as a few weekends away at sea a year they also get a two-week summer deployment during the university holidays.

Commanding Officer of HMS Charger Lieutenant James Wallington-Smith, said: “We were told to expect between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors to the naval base and that is a fantastic engagement piece for my students to act as ambassadors for their ship as well as the Royal Navy. 

“But is also an excellent opportunity for them to see how other nations run their ships and manage their personnel, as future officers it is important for the students to learn as much as possible and apply best practice on future exercises and operations.

“Kiel Week is a highlight of the summer deployment programme and each of my students will go away enriched by the experience.”

On board HMS Charger was 19-year-old Chris Vroon from Liverpool University. He said: “I think Kiel Week is brilliant – having so many navies around really shows the strength of bonds between nations and it’s good for building relationships and for us as representatives of the Royal Navy.

“Being here as an officer cadet is really useful for someone like me as it really helps me form a view of what my career will be like when I finish university and hopefully start my career in the Royal Navy.”