Top civic honour for HMS Cambria – the Royal Navy’s home in Wales

HMS Cambria, the Royal Navy’s shore-based home in Wales, is to be given the Freedom of Cardiff in recognition of its 75 years’ service helping to protect the nation.

Cardiff Council is expected to approve the honour – awarded to just 62 individuals and 11 organisations since 1886 – at its meeting next Thursday. Among the military organisations to have been honoured in the past are the Welch Regiment (1944), the Royal Regiment of Wales (1969), HMS Cardiff (1988) and HMS Dragon, which was the last recipient of the honour, in 2014.

Council leader Cllr Huw Thomas said today: “HMS Cambria has made an outstanding contribution to the life of Cardiff since it was founded in Cardiff in 1947, when it was based in a former foundry on the western side of East Dock.

“In the years since, it has played a pivotal role in training and deploying Royal Naval Reservists at sea and ashore, at home and abroad.”

Since it was established, HMS Cambria has been based at a number of sites throughout South Wales. In 1978, after the Cardiff base was earmarked for demolition, it was relocated to ex-army premises overlooking the sea in Sully and in subsequent years a number of attempts were made to bring it back to Cardiff.

However, it was not until 2018 that a site could be found and in July 2020 it moved into an £11m purpose-built facility in the heart of Cardiff Bay. Here, every week, up to 80 Royal Navy and Royal Marines Reservists use the state-of-the-art accommodation, including training and classroom suites, a fitness room, a multi-purpose dining room and short-term accommodation for up to 50 people. There is also a rope training area and a parade ground.

Staff at HMS Cambria support reservists and student naval cadets studying at universities in Cardiff who, during the pandemic, helped the Welsh and UK governments in their response to Covid. Currently, HMS Cambria reservists are supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The CO of HMS Cambria, Commander Carolyn Jones, said she was delighted to accept the honour on behalf of her company. “Everyone appreciates what a rare and special accolade this is for HMS Cambria and is a wonderful way to acknowledge our 75th anniversary.

“In that time, I feel we really have made a huge contribution to Cardiff in many different ways, not least in supporting many people from the city who have gone on to long and successful careers in the Royal Navy.

“Our new unit here is an amazing facility and I hope this will be our home for many years to come.”