REPRESENTATIVES from Chester attended the rededication ceremony of a Royal Navy ship in Plymouth.

Chester is the affiliated city of Plymouth-based warship HMS Albion. The ship was launched by the Princess Royal in 2001 and she was the guest of honour for the ship’s rededication in Plymouth.

The colourful event, with 350 sailors on a military parade and with military music, marks the beginning of the next chapter in the ship’s life as she takes on the role of the UK’s very high readiness amphibious assault ship after a multi-million pound refit and upgrade.

Princess Anne said: “I hope today’s event makes it easier for your loved ones to understand what you do on board when you are away on deployment and helps maintain that emotional connection, despite the difficulty of separation.’’

As is tradition, the captain, officers, and Royal Marines and sailors formed up on parade in their best uniform, with swords and medals, in front of families, friends, affiliate organisations and civic members from Chester, former commanding officers, defence and industry VIPs.

Cllr Razia Daniels, Lord Mayor of Chester, said: “I feel very honoured to have been here.

“The captain made me feel very proud of our town when he invited me and referred to HMS Albion as ‘your’ ship.’’

The event took place inside the highly versatile command-and-control ship at her base port in HM Naval Base Devonport, and included a 21-gun salute, 96-man guard, parade of the ship’s company, Royal Marines Band Plymouth and ceremonial cake-cutting,

HMS Albion’s commanding officer, Captain Tim Neild, said: “This was the pinnacle of my career so far – to have the Princess Royal on board to rededicate Albion back into the fleet and was a fantastic and fitting event. It was a rare privilege to have our sponsor on board.

“Our royal sponsor is a talisman and acts as a driver towards working our way to operational readiness. The highlight of the event was when the Princess Royal reviewed the front rank of the guard. I like to call ourselves the A-Team because of our ethos, after the TV programme.

“So when the A-Team theme tune was played by the Royal Marines Band I was extra proud of my ship’s company. And I’m sure the sailors grew an inch taller and puffed their chests out with pride.’’

HMS Albion has taken troops home returning from operations in Afghanistan and transported British citizens following the Iceland volcano eruption.

She deployed to Libya following the uprising and then conducted anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

The ship exchanged roles with sister ship HMS Bulwark, entering extended readiness and completed her major refit this year after entering dry dock in 2014.