On July 14 and 15, HMS Exploit’s honorary role will take her across the Solent twice, and then bring the Cardiff Bay-based vessel to Southampton, Gosport and Portsmouth.
“We are normally based at Penarth near Cardiff,” said HMS Exploit’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Si Shaw. “But we are forward deployed to Portsmouth at the moment and we have been fortunate enough to be awarded this ceremonial role. I will have 11 students embarked from Birmingham, Birmingham City, Loughborough and Warwick Universities – all part of the Universities Royal Naval Unit for the Birmingham area..
“Everyone on the ship and at the URNU is proud to be escorting the Olympic Flame around the Solent, into Southampton and finally to the Royal Navy’s homeport of Portsmouth.
“For many of my students, this will be their last time embarked in Exploit prior to graduation – so they are going out on a high.”
The first stage of HMS Exploit’s Olympic exploits will see her leave Lymington on Saturday July at 12 noon bound for Cowes,
She remains at anchor in Cowes while the torch tours the island, before it is embarked once again on one of the Solent’s iconic Red Funnel ferries for a return journey to the mainland at around 5.40pm, this time toSouthampton.
Exploit will sail alongside as the Flame makes this crossing, also accompanied by a flotilla of other small craft, arriving at Southampton at approx 6.30pm.
But it doesn’t end there for Si and the crew – the very next day, HMS Exploit, together with two historic Royal Navy boats from World War II (Motor Torpedo Boat 102 and Motor Gun Boat 81) will escort the Flame once more, as it transits aboard the Spirit of Gosport ferry from Gosport to the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth at 5.50pm.
Once ashore, the torch will continue on its way past HMS Victory, on into the city and beyond to Fareham.
“We had a rehearsal with the two historic boats on Monday which went very well,” continued Si. “It is quite an honour for us to be able to sail alongside these older vessels which served the country so well in the Second World War.
“There will also be a couple of tugs on the day which will produce water plumes to welcome the flame – I have to say we got rather wet during the rehearsal, so waterproofs might be the order of the day on Sunday.”