Published: 06:00, 12 September 2019
| Updated: 10:15, 12 September 2019
HMS Medway is coming home.
The Towns are set to hold an historic event which will see the newest patrol vessel in a Royal Navy fleet commissioned in the area it takes its name from.
HMS Medway, which is due to arrive in Chatham on Tuesday, September 17, will be officially commissioned during its stay, placing the ship on active service ready for global deployment.
It is rare that a ship gets commissioned in the place it takes its name from, making the visit even more special.
HMS Medway is a 90-metre offshore patrol vessel and will be involved in counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling operations to help keep Britain safe.
Construction began in June 2015 when the first steel was cut in Glasgow.
The ship was then later named at Scotstoun yard on the Clyde by Lady Fallon, wife of the then Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.
She has a total length of 90.5 metres and a flight deck which can operate the Merlin helicopter. The vessel is also armed with a 30mm automatic cannon, two miniguns, four machine guns and is capable of more than 24 knots.
To mark the historic occasion, public events will be held on Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22, alongside the Historic Dockyard Chatham’s Salute to the 40s extravaganza.
On the Saturday, a parade to mark the Freedom of Medway will be held in Chatham from 11am.
The parade will start in Church Street - just off Chatham High Street - and will be led by the Royal Marine Band.
With drums beating, they will march to Gun Wharf in Dock Road and salute as they pass, before making their way into the Historic Dockyard Chatham.
On Sunday, September 22, the ship will be open to visitors at Chatham Maritime from 10am to 4pm.
No visitors will be admitted unless they have booked in advance. Visits can only be booked online and will be available via the website eventbrite.co.uk from Tuesday, 17 September.
After her visit, HMS Medway will conduct front line training ready for her maiden deployment overseas at the turn of the end of the year2019/20.
HMS Medway's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Power, said: “It is always a great honour to be given command of one of Her Majesty’s ships and a privilege to lead the men and women of such a fine ship’s company, especially on the occasion of her commissioning.
"On behalf of HMS Medway, I would like to thank the Mayor and people of Medway for granting us the honour of the freedom of Medway and we look forward to a long and productive affiliation.”
'This is a particularly historic and unique occasion in that the commissioning is taking place in the area the ship is named after,' Cllr Howard Doe
Cllr Howard Doe, portfolio holder for community services at Medway Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome the crew of the Royal Navy’s newest vessel to Medway.
"This is a particularly historic and unique occasion in that the commissioning is taking place in the area the ship is named after and it feels most fitting, given Medway’s historic naval heritage.
"I am pleased residents will have the opportunity of enjoying this momentous occasion by showing their support at the freedom parade and signing up to visit the ship.
"We wish HMS Medway and her crew every success for the future.”