Finns welcomed aboard HMS Albion

July 5, 2023
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Anne Repo standing next to HMS Albion's sign in front of the vessel with a blue background and two HMS Albion logos on both sides of the image

HMS Albion arrived in Finland to demonstrate her capabilities on a beautiful day on 23 May.

The Devonport-based ship was open for the day to visitors interested in a tour on board. Over 1,000 people visited HMS Albion in Helsinki.

The ship arrived in Finland from Sweden where she took part in Exercise Aurora 23. As the UK underscores its commitment to northern European security and its support for Sweden’s NATO accession, a Royal Navy task group headed to the Baltic to join the largest Swedish military drills in over 25 years. HMS Albion, as part of the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force, continues to co-operate with the Swedish Armed Forces.

HMS Albion last visited Helsinki in 2021. This year marks the Royal Navy’s first visit to the country since Finland became NATO’s newest member to date on 4 April.

Commanding Officer Captain Marcus JC Hember expressed his excitement to be visiting Finland and exploring opportunities for collaboration as allies: “We’re really excited to be visiting Finland. We’re working closely with the Finnish military to understand better how we can work together. We’re also really proud to be demonstrating our enduring commitment to this part of the world.

“And finally, of course, we’re really pleased to be having a rest after a really busy period of operations. My team and I are very much looking forward to exploring this brilliant city and seeing more of what it has to offer.”

Highland RFCA’s Communications Officer, Annushka Bholai, is half Finnish and was born in Helsinki. Her Finnish mother, Anne Repo, was one of the thrilled visitors in Helsinki. She said: “What a unique opportunity to be able to tour a ship like this – especially now as we have finally joined NATO!” Anne was pleasantly surprised at how much access and insight visitors were allowed throughout the day.

Anne Repo jumping in front of HMS Albion
Anne Repo excited to be welcomed aboard HMS Albion in Helsinki, Finland.

After visiting Helsinki, HMS Albion went on to take part in NATO’s annual Exercise Baltops in Estonia. It is the largest multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea, designed to strengthen the bonds of international partnership. More than 30 NATO warships and almost 3,700 personnel arrived in Tallinn to participate in the event on 5 June. The allied ships included Finland.

Commander of the Estonian Navy, Commodore Jüri Saska, said: “This year’s Baltops is a historic event for us, as there has never been such a large NATO naval presence on Estonian soil at the same time.”

HMS Albion is one of the Royal Navy’s two amphibious assault ships. Together, their mission is to deliver the punch of the Royal Marines ashore by air and sea. HMS Albion has been described as the Royal Navy’s ‘Swiss Army knife’.

This amphibious transport dock is capable of carrying 400 sailors and Royal Marines with a huge range of skills and experience, from technicians and engineers to medics and chefs. The loading dock of HMS Albion is packed with the trucks, machinery and water craft her crew use to carry out their duties. The ship also carries emergency supplies for use in disaster relief operations, from food supplies to water pumps.

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