AFTER relentlessly pursuing drug smugglers across the Caribbean, sailors on board HMS Lancaster have stopped in Barbados before making the long journey home.
The Portsmouth-based ship called into Bridgetown for a four-day visit that also marked the island’s Independence Day.
A squad of 15 sailors were sent along to take part in the celebrations, dressed in their tropical ceremonial uniforms.
Commander Peter Laughton, HMS Lancaster’s commanding officer, said: ‘It has been a great honour and privilege for me to bring Lancaster to Barbados, not only to help mark their 74th Independence Day but also as this marked my first port visit at the commanding officer.
‘Barbados and the Royal Navy have strong ties that go back centuries and I hope this visit has been able to strengthen those ties and build on new ones, ensuring they go on for many more years to come.’
Cdr Laughton took the helm of the Type 23 frigate last month, replacing Commander Steve Moorhouse.
Before leaving Barbados, HMS Lancaster took custody of a gift from local fundraisers.
The Barbados Legion handed over £2,000 to the ship in British and European coins, collected over the past two years, for the ship to bring back to the UK and donate to charity.
Sailors on board the frigate also took the time to work on a community project.
Nine sailors were sent to a Second World War veterans home, where they painted the outside of his wind-battered property and cleared away old outhouses and sheds.
HMS Lancaster has clocked up a sporty reputation among the fleet, so there was a surprise in store for the crew when Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan visited the ship with the FA Cup. The famous silverware being on board gave lifelong Wigan supporter Able Seaman Andrew Locky, 21, a dream photo opportunity.
He said: ‘It was amazing to hold the FA Cup that I watched Wigan win this year.
‘I know all my mates at home will be really jealous.’