A WARM welcome was in store for a Royal Navy warship as it sailed up the Tyne for a special five-day visit.
HMS Dauntless, a 7,300-tonne Type 45 destroyer, docked at Northumbrian Quay, in North Shields, yesterday.
The ship’s 200 crew members were set for a busy weekend visiting affiliated organisations and meeting members of the public.
But those hailing from the North East were also looking forward to meeting family and friends. Among them was physical training instructor Dan Appleby, of Greencroft, County Durham, who helps sailors keep fit on the ship.
The 27-year-old, who has been in the Navy for nearly seven years, said: “I absolutely love the job.
“I have been to places including India, Oman, and several parts of Europe. On the ship, I lead circuits training sessions three times a day.
“I also have other secondary roles. And I actually got a chance to steer the Dauntless into the Tyne yesterday. It was under the direction of the captain and navigating team.
“This was the first time I had steered a ship, and it was a great experience. I am now looking forward to seeing my parents and spending some time out in Newcastle.”
Also pleased to be home was logistics officer Iain Kearsley, 39, who has strong links with Tyneside.
His grandad Robert Smith, of North Shields, was a cook in the Merchant Navy and his uncle David Bell, also of North Shields, was a shipbuilder in Wallsend’s Swan Hunter yard for many years.
His uncle helped to build vessels such as the HMS Ark Royal and the RFA Fort George. And Lt Cdr Kearsley got a chance to serve on the Fort George himself some years ago.
Lt Cdr Kearsley, who grew up in South Durham and went to Durham University, said: “I have a lot of family and friends in North Shields and they stood at the Fish Quay waving to us when the ship came in.
“It’s a huge privilege to serve on this warship – the most capable warship the Navy has ever produced. To be head of a department on board is one of the pinnacles of my career.”
Members of the public will get a chance to see the ship tomorrow, between 10am and 3pm. There will also be a special parade, known as the Ship’s Company Review, along Ceremonial Way in Newcastle, at 11.30am.
HMS Dauntless, Tyneside’s adopted warship, is one of the most technologically advanced vessels in the world.
It is equipped with a state-of-the-art air defence system which is able to track and destroy a target the size of a cricket ball travelling three times the speed of sound.
Adrian Fryer, the ship’s commanding officer, said: “This visit will give us an opportunity to strengthen our ties with Newcastle and our affiliated organisations.”