A busy year for HMS Hibernia since its move to Lisburn home

Pictured in Castle Gardens at the musical concert are: (l-r) Lieutenant Colonel Nick Ilic, Station Commander at Thiepval Barracks; Colonel Mike Murdoch, Deputy Commander at Thiepval Barracks; the Deputy Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Andrew Ewing; Edwin Poots MLA; the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim Mrs Joan Christie OBE; Commander Ian Allen, HMS Hibernia; Dr Theresa Donaldson, Chief Executive Designate of Lisburn City and Castlereagh District Council; Lieutenant Colonel Kerry Anderson, HMS Hibernia; Dame Mary Peters DBE, Honorary Captain of HMS Hibernia; Bandmaster WO1 Richard Douglas; the Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Mr Colin McClintock, Acting Chief Executive, Lisburn City Council.
Pictured in Castle Gardens at the musical concert are: (l-r) Lieutenant Colonel Nick Ilic, Station Commander at Thiepval Barracks; Colonel Mike Murdoch, Deputy Commander at Thiepval Barracks; the Deputy Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Andrew Ewing; Edwin Poots MLA; the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim Mrs Joan Christie OBE; Commander Ian Allen, HMS Hibernia; Dr Theresa Donaldson, Chief Executive Designate of Lisburn City and Castlereagh District Council; Lieutenant Colonel Kerry Anderson, HMS Hibernia; Dame Mary Peters DBE, Honorary Captain of HMS Hibernia; Bandmaster WO1 Richard Douglas; the Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Mr Colin McClintock, Acting Chief Executive, Lisburn City Council.

It has been a busy year for the Royal Naval Reserve, who moved to Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn earlier in the year.

After moving into newly refurbished and extended headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn HMS Hibernia was able to step up training as well as support to operations worldwide in the past twelve months.

Already, the tasks and commitments for 2015 are starting to fill up.

One of the first ventures will be a major exercise at Ballykinler with a scenario that will test skills in evacuation of civilians from a crisis area, protection of infrastructure and diplomatic and media engagement.

In a similar exercise earlier this year staff with HMS Hibernia teamed up with colleagues from other Royal Naval Reserve bases across Scotland and the north of England.

For many, the training proved invaluable with deployments to the Arabian Gulf as well as similar training in Cyprus and in the rest of the UK.

The Lisburn based unit also made its mark on one of the Royal Navy highlights with one of the attached officers taking part in the historic annual Royal Navy Field Gun competition in Portsmouth as part of the Maritime Reserve team.

The beginning of June saw a significant milestone for the Royal Naval Reserve in Northern Ireland, with a dinner marking the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Ulster Division Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on HMS Caroline.

Welcome news was also received of a large grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund for the restoration of this grand old lady in Belfast, the only survivor from the Battle of Jutland.

Since moving to Thievpal Barracks and Lisburn HMS Hibernia has strengthened its links with the town. This was recognised in June with Lisburn City Council holding a formal reception officially welcoming HMS Hibernia to the city.

The reception was followed by a concert given by the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment culminating in a Royal Navy ceremonial sunset.

The ship’s company of Hibernia were well spread during October and November. National leadership training in Crowborough, support to the NATO exercise Joint Warrior in Scotland, exercising in Cyprus and deployment in the Arabian Gulf took place alongside attendance at training courses and other military events.

2015 looks to be another busy year, starting with repeat of last year’s Ballykinler exercise, and a parade as Freemen of the Borough of Newtownabbey in late March, just before the new council areas come into effect.

Also on the horizon is the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli parade in Whitehall, London. The Unit’s attendance will be especially poignant as HMS Hibernia the only existing Royal Navy establishment or ship with battle honours from this WW1 operation.

The high tempo of operational role training is unlikely to change and recruiting remains a top priority for the command.

These demands will combine to offer another challenging twelve months; but HMS Hibernia, as ever, stands ready.