Four NATO warships – including Belfast affiliated HMS DUNCAN – will arrive in Northern Ireland this weekend after being stood down from monitoring the movement of a Russian aircraft carrier through the English channel and to the Mediterranean.
The ships – from the Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) will arrive on Friday morning and afternoon into Belfast.
The group is commanded by a Spanish Officer, Rear Admiral Jose Enrique Delgado, and consists of Spanish, Portuguese, German and Royal Naval vessels, manned by more than 700 sailors. The Group had been due to visit Belfast in mid-October but were diverted to track and shadow the Russian Naval Group that moved through the North Sea to the Mediterranean.
The ships in the group are; ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon, a Spanish frigate and the flagship for Admiral Delgado; NRP Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese frigate; FGS Ludwigshafen and FGS Rhon, German naval corvette and support ship; and finally HMS Duncan a Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer and Belfast’s own affiliated ship.
This will be HMS Duncan’s second visit to Belfast having previously called here in July 2014. Since then she has been active in the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as training in UK and northern waters. Although part of the NATO group, HMS Duncan will take time catching up with her affiliations in Belfast including City Hall, the NI Children’s Hospice, Sea Cadets from across Northern Ireland and the local Royal Naval Reserve unit HMS Hibernia.
There will be other group visits to the ship from veterans and local emergency service, but unfortunately neither HMS Duncan not the rest of the group will be open to the public on this occasion.
The group are due to arrive in Belfast on Friday and will remain there until Monday.