HMS Forward (shore establishment 1984)

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HMS Forward Guard.jpg
The guard of HMS Forward parading at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, on Armed Forces Day 2010.
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Forward
Commissioned: 1 October 1984 as Birmingham Communications Training Centre[1]
Status: Active
Badge: HMS Forward badge.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Stone frigate

HMS Forward is a Royal Naval Reserve unit located in Birmingham, England, close to St. Andrews football stadium. It has a crew of nearly 100 naval and marine reservists, in addition to a handful of full-time staff. The Birmingham University Royal Naval Unit, the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme 'Taurus Squadron' and a detachment of the Royal Marine Reserves Merseyside are also located on the site.[2] The ship is particularly unusual in that it is situated 80 miles from the sea.


A Royal Naval Reservist from HMS Forward firing a GPMG

The base originated on a different site during the Second World War, and was originally known as the regional Naval Communications Training Centre.[1] On 1 October 1984, the centre became a commissioned ship - a stone frigate - known as HMS Forward.[1] In early 1985, the unit moved to a former industrial unit on Sampson Rd North which, on 28 January 1986, was officially opened by The Princess Royal. The unit once again moved in April 1999, this time to a new purpose-built building. Once again the official opening was performed by The Princess Royal.[2] The ship acquired its name from the motto of the City of Birmingham - Forward.[2] The unit is affiliated with HMS Daring, a Type 45 destroyer currently in service with the Royal Navy.[3]

Awards and noted events[edit]

In 2000, the ship won the Richards Trophy, a national seamanship competition, at HMS Raleigh (shore establishment).[4]

In 2004, the ship was granted the Freedom of the City of Birmingham, from John Alden, Lord Mayor of Birmingham.[5]

In 2007, a team from the ship, led by new recruit Jules Morgan, rescued a man with hypothermia from Snowdon in driving hail.[6]

The ship became more famous in recent years when it produced a winner of The Sun Military Awards, Able Seaman Grandison, who won the national award for 'Best Reservist'. Grandison is a taxi-driver in Sandwell, but left his work and contracts to deploy to the Indian Ocean as part of a team to provide armed protection against piracy to RFA Wave Knight. He was later promoted to Leading Hand.[7][8][9]

Current tasks[edit]

Being the only large naval presence in the West Midlands, Forward is called upon to act in ceremonial duties and parades, and recently supplied contingents for the Birmingham Trafalgar Day,[10][11][12] Remembrance Day,[13] and Armed Forces Day parades.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e Warlow, Ben (2000). Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy. Maritime Books. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-907771-74-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d "HMS Forward (Birmingham)". Royal Navy. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Bradley, Paul (9 November 2007). "Birmingham's new warship is state-of-the-art HMS Daring". Birmingham Mail. Birmingham, United Kingdom. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Worrall, Boris (November 9, 2000). "Seamen on the crest of a wave". Birmingham Evening Mail. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ Tyler, Jane (May 31, 2004). "Freedom of Brum for hero sailors". Birmingham Evening Mail. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Oliphant, Will (July 27, 2007). "Brum team Forward to the rescue! CLIMBING: Navy reservists save man on mountain". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ Newton Dunn, Tom (16 December 2009). "I had Jenson in the front of my cab". The Sun. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Outstanding Kate's a Millie as well as MC". Navy News. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Royal Navy reservist's award pride". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Units mark Trafalgar victory across the country". Navy News. United Kingdom. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Roberts, Trevor (26 October 2009). "Trafalgar Day parade". Birmingham Post. Birmingham, United Kingdom. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Oliphant, William (26 October 2009). "Parade marks 200th anniversary of unveiling of Birmingham's Lord Nelson statue". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Quinton, Darren (9 November 2009). "Day of National Remembrance in Centenary Square". Birmingham Post. Birmingham, United Kingdom. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  14. ^ Bradley, Paul (27 June 2009). "Birmingham to show support for Armed Forces". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°28′38″N 1°51′58″W / 52.4773°N 1.8660°W / 52.4773; -1.8660