Navy Showtime For Volvo Ocean Race Sightseers
The Royal Navy will be contributing to the crowd entertainment and spectacle accompanying the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Portsmouth (May 19 to June 2) by providing a free show on the water and in the air.
For the first time in Portsmouth since the International Festival of the Sea last year, a warship will be open to visitors – the Type 42 destroyer HMS Exeter, berthed at South Railway Jetty, an area of the Naval Base to which the public do not normally have access.
Exeter, one of the Navy’s highly capable air-defence ships, all based at Portsmouth, will be open over the Bank Holiday weekend (May 27-29). Then on June 2, when the race restarts for the Portsmouth-Rotterdam leg, Modern and historic Naval aircraft will provide sightseers with a rare spectacle.
Two displays will be given by the Royal Navy’s elite display team, the Black Cats, flying versatile Lynx helicopters in a never-to-be-forgotten and unique aerial ballet.
The air display times are as follows on 2 Jun –
• 1500 – 1515 Black Cats at Gunwharf
• 1640 – 1655 Black Cats at Southsea
• 1655 – 1701 Sea Fury (RN Hist Flt) at Southsea
• 1701 – 1707 Sea Hawk (RN Hist Flt) at Southsea
The team’s two helicopters, from 702 Naval Air Squadron, have attracted audiences as high as 250,000, and have won many honours, including the Steadman Sword for the best British participants at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Also thrilling the racegoers and tourists will be a Sea Fury fighter-bomber – among the last piston-engined fighters to see service with the Fleet Air Arm – and a Sea Hawk jet fighter which entered service as a carrier-borne aircraft in 1953.
The Sea Fury was too late to see action in the Second World War, but its high performance ensured its use in post-war front-line service – including action in the Korean War where a Sea Fury most famously got the better of, and shot down, a jet-powered MiG-15.
The Sea Hawk flew with 898 Squadron in HMS Ark Royal, HMS Bulwark and ashore at the RN Air Station at Brawdy, Pembrokeshire. In 1957 the aircraft joined 806 Squadron – in whose colours she flies - until pensioned off in 1960 to served for two years in second-line training.
During the Volvo Race stopover, the yachts – berthed at Gunwharf Quays – will enter the Naval Base for maintenance, being lifted out of the water on to two jetties in the base – Victory Jetty near HMS Victory’s berth and the adjacent Sheer Jetty.
Other entertainment lined up for visitors includes displays and music provided by members of the Sea Cadet Corps.
Commenting on the events, Portsmouth Naval Base Commander, Commodore David Steel RN, said: “The Royal Navy is delighted that the Volvo Ocean Race organisers have chosen Portsmouth as the event’s UK stopover. We extend a very warm welcome to the round-the-world yacht crews and the many thousands of people expected to visit the Naval Base to witness the spectacle of the event itself, and the associated entertainment.
“We are proud to contribute to an event that is of such good news and lasting benefit to the Naval Base and the City of Portsmouth. I am sure that many of the sightseers that this series of events will attract will be put in mind of the wonderful success of last year’s International Festival of the Sea, and our determination to build upon it.”