SAILORS from HMS Northumberland took time out from anti-piracy duties to help an African community.
The county’s namesake warship is currently serving off the east coast of Africa in maritime security operations.
But when the Royal Navy frigate berthed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 25 of its crew set off for the nearby Kigamboni Community Centre (KCC) to forge new friendships.
The sailors helped to install new windows and doors, repair fencing and build ‘hougle beds’, which will be used to grow vegetables in dry conditions.
In return, members of the community centre performed an impressive musical and acrobatic dance, showing some of the skills they are taught there.
HMS Northumberland Leading Physical Trainer Andrew Davidson said: “All my shipmates were moved by the day at the KCC.
“We felt a great sense of achievement knowing that we’d helped in every way possible.”
The centre was set up in 2006 to provide shelter and education for children, but it also runs a mobile library and promotes adult learning schemes.
Before they left, the HMS Northumberland group gave out 85 football shirts, courtesy of the Royal Navy Football Association, a rugby ball and football, as well as the Northumberland crest and a commemorative coin.
The ship’s captain Commander Paddy Dowsett said: “Our visit to Dar es Salaam has been a real success.
“Not only has it reaffirmed and strengthened the commitment the United Kingdom has to Tanzania, it has also allowed my team to give something to the local community.”
HMS Northumberland travelled to the region before Christmas to take over duties from its sister ship HMS Sutherland, which had served for five months as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, helping to ensure the waters of the Middle East and Indian Ocean are safe for trading and fishing.
The two Type 23 frigates met up briefly in the Red Sea and the HMS Sutherland command team visited HMS Northumberland by Merlin helicopter to pass on information about their experiences.
To celebrate the meeting, the ships fired fire hoses into the air in a broadside of high-pressure water jets.