It is hard to live so close to a port like Liverpool without being aware how important to the whole community are the ships that visit. Big cruise ships bring thousands of visitors to the whole region. The enormous container ships docking at the new Port of Liverpool docks in Bootle are crucial to the economy of the north. But there is one other category of visitors that come to us from the sea who are extremely hospitable and they are the navies of NATO.
Last week two ships deployed on NATO duties docked in Liverpool; one Portuguese and one Spanish.They were part of a deployment that was on its way to Reykjavic before returning to Edinburgh.
I was invited on board the Portuguese ship. As this was NATO operation it was by definition multi national. The Spanish officer was commanding and was to be joined by several other boats from other NATO members and together they were spending time in the alliances northern waters including the Baltic.
It was clear how the crew members I met fully understood the value of working together with other nations and how that enhanced their contribution. I have also discovered how generous the navies are when it comes to hospitality and (no doubt because we were in the UK) there was cake.
At 9.00pm the two ships lowered their flags