VISITORS to Hartlepool at the weekend got a rare chance to go onboard a Royal Navy minehunter ship as it visited the town.

HMS Grimsby, which has a 38-strong crew, took a brief break from operational duties to visit the port and give local people the chance to visit and find out more about its work.

Launched in 1998, the vessel has seen service in Europe, the Arabian Gulf, the Baltic and as part of the NATO force in the Mediterranean.

Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher was given a tour of the ship by commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Mark Hammon.

The Mayor presented him with a plaque bearing the Hartlepool civic crest, while Lieut. Commander Hammon presented the Mayor with HMS Grimsby’s crest, which features the head of a wild boar.

Lieut. Commander Hammon said: “Visits like these to local communities play an important part in helping to explain our modern role to the public and give people an opportunity to see first hand the work that goes on onboard.”

Councillor Akers Belcher added: “It is a privilege to welcome HMS Grimsby and her crew to Hartlepool. The Royal Navy carries out such a vital role in protecting our country and helping to keep the peace around the world and this is a great opportunity for local people to find out more and show their support.”