HMS Diamond is to officially kick off national celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a spectacular gun display.
The Type 45 destroyer will fire a 21-gun salute as she enters Portsmouth harbour on Friday morning, marking the start of the Jubilee weekend.
The navy saluting gun overlooking the harbour entrance at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, will also fire 21 times in response.
And on entering the harbour, Diamond will be joined by four Royal Navy helicopters – two Merlin and two Lynx – performing a fly-past over the ship in a diamond formation.
Fleet Commander, Admiral George Zambellas, said: ‘It is fitting that Her Majesty’s Ship Diamond should mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in this way.
‘The Queen’s affection for and commitment to the Armed Forces have touched the lives of many servicemen and women and their families over the past 60 years.
‘I am proud that HMS Diamond is helping to launch this special weekend of celebrations across our island nation.’
As the ship passes the Round Tower at Old Portsmouth, her crew will perform three cheers to Her Majesty. HMS Diamond will be led into the harbour by two Royal Navy patrol vessels – HMS Raider and HMS Blazer.
Petty Officer Dickie Davies is responsible for the ceremonial drill on the upper deck.
He said: ‘Being a staunch royalist I am honoured at having a key part to play in the ship’s entry to Portsmouth.
‘It will be a proud day for all servicemen involved and being on HMS Diamond will be the icing on the cake.’
Celebrations will continue after the ship has berthed with a ‘street party’ for the 190 crew and guests on the ship’s flight deck.
Visitors from the ship’s affiliate cities of Coventry and Aberdeen will be among the guests at the party.
Other special guests include representatives from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, who will sell copies of a new CD by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth, called Diamond Jubilee.
HMS Diamond’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ian Clarke, said: ‘It will be a real honour for HMS Diamond to salute Her Majesty on Friday, signalling the start of Diamond Jubilee celebrations that weekend.
‘By happy coincidence, 2012 is an important year for HMS Diamond as we sail for our maiden operational deployment in a couple of weeks’ time.’
Diamond will arrive at 10.30am on Friday – passing the Round Tower, Old Portsmouth, shortly before that.
There will also be a good vantage point from Gosport’s Millennium promenade.