By spring 2020, HMS Cambria, Wales’ historic Royal Naval Reserve unit, will once again be based in Cardiff, thanks to a new working partnership between the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association and ABP South Wales.
HMS Cambria’s rich heritage as Wales’ Royal Naval Reserve unit dates back to its formation in July 1947, when it first set its base at Cardiff Docks. But as the redevelopment of the docks began to create the Cardiff Bay we know today, the unit found itself relocated away from its waterside home.
After redesign, conversion and construction, HMS Cambria’s current home, at the former Service Married Quarters at Sully, near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, was opened in 1980 and has remained Cambria’s base for almost 40 years.
But now, thanks to a major maritime collaboration between the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) and ABP South Wales, the unit is set to return to its Cardiff home by spring 2020.
Work has already begun on constructing a bespoke £11 million facility on the Cardiff Port estate, located near Roath Dock, in the heart of Cardiff Bay, only a mile away from the city centre of the Welsh capital.
The new building will provide a new state-of-the-art training centre, as well as accommodation and social facilities for the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Marines Reserve, and the University Royal Naval Unit. From opening, it is planned that HMS Cambria will offer these vital services at the new location for some 50 years thanks to a long-term lease.
It is hoped that the new site will provide more opportunities for existing reservists to fulfil their roles as vital and valued members of the armed forces family, as well as inspiring future reservists from the surrounding areas to unlock their potential by getting involved and making a contribution to this important part of the UK armed forces.
I am excited to see this project develop. It will deliver state-of-the-art training and accommodation facilities for the Royal Naval Reserve for many years to come.
To mark the beginning of the new development, ABP Director South Wales Matthew Kennerley visited the site in September – together with HMS Cambria’s commanding officer Commander Steve Fry, Chairman of the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association Captain Brian Thorne, and Commander of the Maritime Reserves Commodore Martin Quinn – to review the plans and watch work begin.
At the visit, Commodore Quinn reiterated the Royal Navy’s commitment to having a presence in Wales and signalled that the beginning of work was a significant milestone in ensuring that this commitment is realised. “I am excited to see this project develop. It will deliver state-of-the-art training and accommodation facilities for the Royal Naval Reserve for many years to come” he said.
The Port of Cardiff has always had a strong link with the Royal Navy and vessels regularly visit Britannia Quay, Roath Basin. The new HMS Cambria facility will also provide the unit with easy access to the waterfront when visiting warships are docked in the port.
On behalf of ABP, Matthew Kennerley welcomed Cambria back to its Cardiff home and said that ABP was “delighted to be using our port infrastructure to support such an important maritime project for the region.”
ABP South Wales has provided a bespoke ‘build-to-suit’ property service to support the project and will be working closely with the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association over the next 18 months, to turn HMS Cambria into a reality, securing a new proud Welsh base for reservists, well into the future.