Youngsters climb aboard as HMS Portland conducts exercises in Africa

Dorset Echo: MISSION: HMS Portland visits Cape Town MISSION: HMS Portland visits Cape Town

THE crew of Portland’s namesake warship welcomed youngsters aboard and later supported a project for orphaned children.

HMS Portland has been busy with diplomatic duties in Africa while on operations in the Atlantic.

In Cape Town, South Africa, the ship conducted exercises with the submarine Charlotte Maxeke and later welcomed 150 local schoolchildren aboard for a day of activities.

In Namibia, sailors spent a day sprucing up the Walvis Bay Kids’ Haven – a home for orphaned and vulnerable children during a brief visit to the town.

The Type 23 frigate, which has close links with Weymouth and Portland and includes some Dorset crew, left Devonport in January for a routine seven month Atlantic patrol task. Her role is to maintain a continuous Royal Naval presence in the Atlantic providing reassurance to British interests.

On the stopover in Cape Town, the ship hosted a demonstration of its capability and equipment along with an official reception, as well as welcoming children.

The pupils took part in a five-a-side football match on a pitch adjacent to the ship and drove the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car in a simulator – which is aiming to break the land speed record in South Africa in 2015.

They also managed to explore the ship and enjoyed a pirate-themed party. Visitors included the Izivunguvungu musical group which entertained the crew.

Engineering technician Ben Venables said: “The children all really enjoyed their time on Portland.”

The project in Namibia came after a call for assistance came from the British High Commissioner, Her Excellency Marianne Young.

Personnel spent the day painting the playground and entertaining the children.

One of the volunteers was engineering technician Jane Anderson who said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to support the local community and to improve the facilities available for the children of the Kids’ Haven.”

The British High Commission has been involved in constructing a new playground at the centre.

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