HMS Queen Elizabeth rounds off New York visit with conference
The aircraft carrier spent the week in New York, giving her ship’s company the chance to see some famous landmarks while also hosting a conference to strengthen UK-US bonds.
The two-day Atlantic Future Forum saw speakers and key note speeches focussing on military, political and strategic relations between the two nations.
Hundreds of guests joined the ship for the event which was first hosted by HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018 as part of her maiden deployment Westlant 18.
This year, speakers and dignitaries included First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key, Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin and Chief of General Staff of the British Army General Sir Patrick Sanders.
Guests were also treated to a performance from singer Katherine Jenkins who was joined by the RM Band.
Before the conference started, sailors from HMS Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Marines Band Service were able to go ashore and enjoy some of the sights of New York City.
This included a performance from the band at Grand Central Terminal and Central Park and a moment of reflection for the ship’s men and women at the 9/11 Memorial.
Meanwhile, escort frigate HMS Richmond berthed at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal (Pier 88) in midtown Manhattan, opposite the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier and Concorde museums and just 15 minutes’ walk from the bright lights of Times Square.
As well as supporting Atlantic Future Forum, she has also been taking part in her own events and activities.
A sizeable number of the ship’s company paid their respects at the 9/11 memorial where Royal Marines musician Cpl Hayley Holgate of the RM Band Service performed The Last Post; she’s embarked on Richmond for the frigate’s entire deployment.
Officers from the wardroom were invited to watch the New York Mets baseball team while 20 crew were invited on to the pitch at the MetLife stadium ahead of the New York Jets’ American football defeat to Cincinnati Bengals (27-12) in front of an 80,000-strong crowd with the ship’s crest displayed on the arena’s big screen.
“I joined the Royal Navy to have adventures, and I’ve just crossed the Atlantic, getting used to some rough seas, and now I’m in New York City at an NFL match,” said Sub Lieutenant Oli Perry.
“The people here are very welcoming, this has been an amazing experience with an electric atmosphere.”
The frigate hosted a capability demonstration/ceremonial sunset for around 100 guests, many from the Maritime Cyber Security Trade Mission which is also holding a two-day conference in New York, with the Corps of Drums from the Royal Marines Band providing much of the pomp and ceremony.
And a handful of sailors - Warfare Specialist Able Seaman Gosling, Marine Engineering Technician Cooksley, Leading Logistician Stafoni Richards and Weapons Engineering Technician Chloe Chapman – toured the city in their No.1 uniforms for a legendary ‘rig run’, seeing the iconic sights of the Big Apple and being treated to American hospitality.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. Walking around New York in my uniform was such a proud moment, especially when we got stopped by the public and thanked for our service,” said Able Seaman Gosling, paying his first visit to the USA.
“In one day I saw the 9/11 memorial, Times Square, and the Empire State Building. I’ll never forget this.”
Engineering Technician Chapman added: “You can’t get a better run ashore really. We were picked up from the ship in one of those massive American SUVs and driven to the tourist spots. My favourite was Times Square. Walking around in my uniform felt a bit strange but everyone we spoke to was lovely, I even got a free Starbucks.”