Prince Michael of Kent visits Royal Navy's Middle Eastern HQ

Prince Michael of Kent paid his first visit to Bahrain in more than a dozen years to meet the men and women of the Royal Navy safeguarding Middle Eastern waters.

 

The Royal visitor dropped in on the Senior Service's key overseas headquarters, the United Kingdom Maritime Component Command (UKMCC), from where the actions of more than 1,000 sailors, naval aviators and Royal Marines are directed daily.

The HQ in the kingdom is on the cusp of a new era with HMS Jufair due to open this autumn - the first RN base since the large-scale withdrawal from east of Suez more than 45 years ago.

The facility at Mina Salman Naval Base will provide repair and support facilities for RN and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels operating in the Middle, plus welfare and accommodation for personnel and is a gift from the King of Bahrain to the UK to celebrate 200 years of relations between the countries

I've met the Prince before when he visited HMS Vivid back in the 1992, meeting him again after all this time and whilst deployed was a good moment," said Neil, who's based at HMS Wildfire in Northwood.

LS(CIS) Neil Parker

Prince Michael toured the new complex and, in his role as Commodore-in-Chief of the Maritime Reserves, met civilian/sailors who are vital to the smooth running of the RN headquarters in Bahrain.

AB Lee Mahoney from HMS President in London has spent 16 years in the Royal Naval Reserve after a seven-year-career in the regular Navy and has recently completed a history degree.

"After graduating I was looking for some work whilst I considered my options and the RNR offered me the chance to deploy," he said. "I never expected to meet a prince though and this was a great honour."

LS(CIS) Neil Parker has been working at UKMCC for more than five months in information management. A property developer by day, he's been a reservist for more than two dozen years - and his part-time career has become a full-time one for his son Thomas, who's a serving submariner.

"I've met the Prince before when he visited HMS Vivid back in the 1992, meeting him again after all this time and whilst deployed was a good moment," said Neil, who's based at HMS Wildfire in Northwood.

Prince Michael also visited minehunter HMS Bangor - one of four Royal Navy vessels permanently based in Bahrain to keep the sea lanes open.

Commander of UKMCC Cdre Steve Dainton said his team was "absolutely delighted" that Prince Michael had visited the HQ - in particular "to recognise the roles that the Maritime Reservists provide for us here in both the UKMCC and Combined Maritime Forces.