One of the Royal Navy’s most high-tech warships docked in Belfast yesterday ahead of commemorations to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.
HMS Duncan first visited Belfast in 2014 having been officially ‘twinned’ with the city.
The Type 45 destroyer, launched in 2010 as the sixth and final one of its class, features an array of state-of-the-art weaponry and was delivered to the Royal Navy at a cost of £1 billion.
It will host its own remembrance service on board before many attend the cenotaph at Belfast City Hall and service at St Anne’s Cathedral.
Commander Tom Trent said: “Its a chance for us both to reward the sailors for some hard work with a bit of socialising in Northern Ireland but also to commemorate on Sunday Armistice 100 which is an important occasion for us all.”
Lisburn man Chris Kerr, 35, is among the crew, having been in the Royal Navy for just over two years. In that time he has travelled to the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
“It was a surreal moment arriving in Belfast,” he said.
“If someone had told me three years ago I would be coming up Belfast Lough in a Type 45 Destroyer, I wouldn’t have believed them. I have been bigging Belfast up to all the crew so I am looking forward to taking them around.”
Ship’s chaplain Rev Brent Van Der Linde also has local links, having lived and worked in Northern Ireland for 17 years as a Presbyterian minister.
Across the UK, millions of people will fall silent tomorrow – a century to the day since the Armistice ended the war which, at the time, was dubbed the ‘war to end all wars’.
The Queen and senior members of the royal family were due to attend the annual Festival of Remembrance at London’s Royal Albert Hall last night.
On Sunday, the Prince of Wales will lead the nation in honouring the country’s war dead during the national service of remembrance.
The Queen asked Charles to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on her behalf for the second year in a row.
For the first time, a German leader will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier performing the duty in a historic act of reconciliation.