Time to go: HMS Lancaster is pulled out of the harbour. *Photo by Simon Jones
Time to go: HMS Lancaster is pulled out of the harbour. *Photo by Simon Jones

HMS Lancaster’s engineers had started doing their final checks long before I had even woken up.

They began their methodical run through at around 5:30am — more than four hours before the Type 23 Frigate left Bermuda yesterday.

By the time I walked on board at 9:30am the ship was a hive of activity as officers prepared to greet Governor George Fergusson and crew prepared to drop lines and load guns before setting off from Hamilton.

At 10am we were pulled, very slowly and carefully, from the dock by the two tug boats, Faithful and Edward M Stowe, into Hamilton Harbour.

A constant flow of information detailing distance from the berth and progress were swiftly exchanged between the captain and his officers on the bridge before we powered out towards Two Rock Passage under out own steam.

HMS Lancaster left Bermuda yesterday in the same brilliant sunshine her crew had enjoyed for most of their stay.

And as we headed out along the North Channel, passing Dockyard to our left, this majestic ship cut a formidable figure against the backdrop of turquoise sea and white-roofed Bermudian homes.

Almost all seafarers know just how narrow the channels are and how treacherous the reefs can be, but from the deck of a Royal Naval warship the route out of Bermuda seems even more perilous; to the novice’s eye.

But Commander Steve Moorhouse and his team, under the watchful eye of Bermudian Branch Pilot Chad Townsell, expertly negotiated the ship into open sea and out towards St George’s.

The armed guards stood down and the guns were covered over as Dockyard faded into the distance.

As we surged along the North Shore with Ferry Reach to our right, the Lynx helicopter was launched from the stern in a spectacular flurry of engine noise and back draught.

Lynx Pilot Chris Easterbrook, who was joined by the Governor, as he did an aerial reconnaissance of the island, that could prove invaluable if the ship has to return to Bermuda during the hurricane season.

At Five Fathom Hole we were joined by the new Pilot Boat, St David, and after negotiating the rope ladder the Governor’s wife, Margaret Fergusson, myself and Pilot Townsell were brought back into St George’s.

It’s not often you get to see Bermuda from the deck of a Naval warship, and it was a unique privilege
to be given that opportunity.