I spent the evening tonight taking part in a ceremony to rededicate HMS Biter at the Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays.
The ship has been out of action for about a year now for a refit and it is making a very welcome return to the water tonight. The ceremony itself was held outdoors, on the quayside in the docks, and I have to tell you that even now, a mere three hours later, I am still frozen to the core. We were treated to that typically Mancunian rain – you know the one, where it feels “a bit damp” but before you know it you’re soaked to the skin – and even sat under covered stands didn’t help as the wet air just circulated round us as we sat.
It was exciting to see so many Naval dignitaries there – we were treated to the sight of the Vice Admiral of the Fleet battling with his sword on the stairs of the stand – and it was lovely to hear a young Air Training Corps band playing for the crowd’s entertainment and for the hymns during the ceremony.
In these days of all things “cutting edge” it was lovely to take part in something tonight that has its roots way back in history. It was also very pleasing that the ceremony has its eyes very much on asking for God’s protection for those who will serve on the ship, and those who are back at home looking after those who serve on her. We sang the Naval hymn – Eternal Father Strong To save – and we recited the Naval prayer at the end of the ceremony.
I think for me the most striking thing about tonight was that there were so many young people there, both on parade as the ships company and in the band providing the music. The vast majority of people there representing the Navy tonight were of student age or younger, which is remarkable.
After the ceremony we were treated to a drinks reception inside the museum. I have never been inside it before, but I will certainly be making a return visit sometime soon. There are exhibits from all over the world, and from all walks of “war”, including some debris from the Twin Towers in the shape of a huge twisted hunk of metal that was once one of the window frames, and a burned out car from Afghanistan. The area we were in for the reception had images from the URNU projected around the walls – and can you spot who was in two of the pictures??!
Here is the Naval prayer:
O eternal Lord God, Who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the sea; who hast compassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end: Be pleased to receive into Thy almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us, Thy servants of the Fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from the dangers of the sea and of the air and from the violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth and her dominions, and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our Islands and Commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve Thee our God; and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land with the fruits of our labours and with a thankful remembrance of Thy mercies to praise and glorify Thy holy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
It’s reassuring to know our future safety is in good hands.