The Royal Navy’s HMS Charger will visit Northwich this weekend, taking her more than 20 miles inland.
HMS Charger is the Universities Royal Naval Unit patrol vessel for Liverpool and Lancaster universities and will leave her Mersey home heading due east and into the Manchester Ship Canal. From there she will move into the mouth of the River Weaver at 9am on Saturday, arriving in Northwich at around 12.30pm.
It is the first time a Royal Navy vessel will have made this journey during the 21st century and she will be accompanied into Northwich by a flotilla of narrow boats.
The P2000 Archer Class patrol vessel will tie up a reserved mooring below Town Bridge before hosting a number of pre-arranged group visits for youth organisations and interested parties throughout the afternoon.
In the evening the crew members will enjoy a short narrow boat journey on the river to the Anderton Boat Lift, where they will be given a special tour of this historic landmark, as well as a reception.
Charger reopens her gangway for one or two more pre-booked group tours on Sunday morning, before departing down river at 12.30pm – arriving back at the ship canal’s Marsh Lock at 4pm.
“We’re thoroughly looking forward to this visit to Northwich,” explained HMS Charger’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ian Critchley. “It is a very unusual destination for us and I am proud that we are the first Royal Navy vessel to make the journey in well over a decade.
“The visit has been a long time in the planning and none of it would have been possible without the help of the River Weaver Navigation Society and the Canal & River Trust.
“Their enthusiasm to make it happen has made all the difference and I am really looking forward to welcoming them as our hosts, as well as various organised tour groups of local people on board during this short visit. And I’ve never visited somewhere before under narrow boat escort, which makes it all the more special.”
Northwich has a rich history of building small craft for the Royal Navy, both at the former Yarwoods and Pimlotts Yards. HMS Charger will probably be the last craft to transit the open Sutton Weaver Bridge, prior to its major overhaul, which starts in June and will last 12 months.