Merseyside shipyard Cammell Laird has announced it will be honouring its illustrious naval and military heritage next month as headline sponsor of the UK’s Armed Forces Day (AFD).
The AFD celebrations will take place in Liverpool on 24 June with more than 1,000 serving personnel, veterans, cadets and marching bands taking part in a parade followed by a full programme of events near the city’s iconic waterfront.
Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret, CBE, said: “Cammell Laird is immensely proud to be the principal sponsor of National Armed Forces Day this year on Merseyside, where we have been based for nearly 200 years.
“The armed forces is part of our heritage and we are proud to support all armed services and the lionhearted men and women both past and present who have dedicated and continue to dedicate themselves to keeping our nation safe, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Cammell Laird has built some of the Navy’s finest ships which have served our country and Navy well in peacetime and in conflict. We continue to build on our remarkable history and are proud to be supporting the build of Astute Class Submarine on behalf of BAE Systems. We have also manufactured a substantial part of Her Majesty’s QEC Class Aircraft Carriers on behalf of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, and today we support on a global basis the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) with its flotilla of vessels which sustain our Naval Defence around the world.
“Cammell Laird has been at the heart of the Merseyside community for over a century, its skills, knowledge and passion have been handed down through generations from parents to sons and daughters. We know the importance of providing the best of quality to the servicemen and women who depend on the assets we manufacture and support. Our commitment to the Royal Navy and Armed Forces remains total, and I am certain our great city and the people of Merseyside will attend in their thousands and make National Armed Forces day a very memorable occasion.”
During the First and Second World Wars Cammell Laird played a key role in defending Britain. In the Second World War Cammell Laird’s largest ever workforce of 12,000 men and women built 106 naval vessels averaging one ship every 21 days, this despite being a major target of Nazi bombers. As the Battle of the Atlantic raged, it further completed repairs on 2,000 merchant vessels and 120 warships.
Just before the outbreak of war Cammell Laird launched the Ark Royal, the first naval vessel designed and built as an aircraft carrier. She famously played a leading role together with fellow Cammell Laird vessel the HMS Prince of Wales in sinking the Bismarck in the North Atlantic in May 1941 before she was later torpedoed by a U-Boat in November 1941 near Gibraltar. The Prince of Wales, meanwhile, took the Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Newfoundland to meet President Roosevelt to discuss the Atlantic Charter.
Post-war Cammell Laird has continued to build and repair warships and submarines, notably the Polaris submarines where it built the HMS Conqueror, HMS Renown and HMS Revenge the first of which was deployed during the Falklands War.
ARMED FORCES DAY BACKGROUND
Liverpool was named the official host of national Armed Forces Day by the Ministry of Defence in July 2016 following a bidding process. It is being organised by Liverpool City Council, Culture Liverpool.
Armed Forces Day will take place at the same time as the Mersey River Festival, and although both events will remain distinct, links will be made between the two so they complement each other. Many of Saturday’s activities will remain for Sunday 25 June.
The full programme will be announced in June.
Image shows John Syvret CBE, CEO of Cammell Laird.