HMS BULWARK, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, celebrated her tenth birthday joined by family and friends at Plymouth.

The crew of the Plymouth-based amphibious landing ship was joined by over 300 family members whilst alongside in HM Naval Base Devonport to celebrate this significant milestone in the life of the Fleet Flagship.

The commanding officer, Captain Dean Bassett said: “I’m delighted that so many members of HMS Bulwark’s family can be here today to help celebrate this milestone in the ship’s life. The support of our families is so important whilst we are deployed on operations and it is a pleasure to be able to give something back.”

HMS Bulwark was launched in November 2001 and entered service with the Royal Navy in December 2004. Her birthday celebration has been brought forward to allow family and friends to be part of the occasion because the ship is due to deploy later this year this summer before returning at the end of this year.

A ceremonial cake cutting was staged to mark the birthday.

A traditional naval fruit cake baked by Leading Chef Andrew Durham, 28, of Plymouth, was jointly cut by the captain’s wife, Mrs Fleur Bassett and the youngest member of the crew, Engineering Technician Eldon Myers,19, from Hartlepool.

Weighing 50kg and measuring 50cm wide, the cake is baked to a secretly guarded, tried and tested naval recipe. Leading Chef Durham said the cake contained 10kg flour, 15kg of mixed fruit, 2kg of almonds, 4kg of butter, 4kg of sugar, 48 eggs and 3 bottles of rum.

“This is the first time I’ve made anything like this,” explained Andrew, who described the painstaking process involved in moulding and decorating the edible HMS Bulwark crest which forms the centrepiece of the cake. This has been six weeks’ of hard work but I’m pleased with what I’ve done.”

HMS Bulwark is one of the Royal Navy’s two assault command and control warships and is presently the Fleet Flagship. She has a crew of 350, a quarter of whom are made up from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines and can carry up to 225 marines for long periods and an extra 500 in more austere conditions for short periods. Her flight deck can accommodate two Chinook or two Merlin helicopters. A large floodable dock holds four large landing craft – with another four carried on davits on the ship’s side.