HMS Charger back in the water just in time for Arctic Convoys commemoration

HMS Charger, Liverpool URNU’s affiliated P2000 patrol boat, returned to her home port in October following a year-long major refit – and just in time to escort HMS Dragon into harbour to play her part in the Arctic Convoy commemorations being held in the city.

Charger welcomed some bleary-eyed students before dawn on Friday 28th October, before slipping her lines and heading out into Liverpool Bay to meet up with Dragon.

It was grey layered on grey as murky weather gave way to the looming superstructure of the mighty Type 45.

Officer cadets onboard switched back into the familiar routines of navigation at the chart table, conning the ship as officer of the watch and radar monitoring – not to mention combating the old nemesis of seasickness as the P2000 fought the tide on the way out.

Charger’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Conrad Rolfe RN, started his naval career as a student at Manchester and Salford URNU – and is ready for some gentle ribbing on that score from the Scousers amongst his affiliated URNU students and training officers.

Lt Rolfe commented: "It is fantastic to have Charger back in the water, and to be able to give opportunities to the students to go to sea.

"I remember well how much I enjoyed my own time in the URNU, and I am excited both to take command of this ship and to develop our undergraduates’ understanding of the Royal Navy and the practical business of going to sea."

It is fantastic to have Charger back in the water, and to be able to give opportunities to the students to go to sea.

Lieutenant Conrad Rolfe

The students agreed, with Officer Cadet Laurence King remarking 'It was great to finally get our ship back and get to do some practical work...the weather, not so great'

Officer Cadet Paul Roberts claimed "it was good to see what the ‘new’ Charger could do after her engine upgrades."

Dragon was in town on the 75th anniversary of the Arctic Convoys – the Allies’ attempt to supply Russia with war materiel via the treacherous northern route. Convoy PQ-2, the third convoy overall, left Liverpool in October 1941 for Archangel, arriving safely later that month.

The commemorations were attended by veterans of the convoys themselves, along with family members, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, and the Royal Marines Band, Plymouth, who played at the civic ceremony in Liverpool Town Hall.

A flypast from Fairey Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm’s Historic Flight was a highlight of the occasion.

Sub-Lieutenant Mike Finn RNR, an URNU training officer aboard Charger and Liverpool native whose grandfather served in the Battle of the Atlantic, commented: "Heading out to meet Dragon was an excellent experience for the students, and, given the anniversary, an opportunity to reflect on the dangers those crews faced and the sacrifices they made."