HMS CALLIOPE, the North-East’s Royal Naval Reserve training unit based on Gateshead Quayside, formally re-opened after a £3.1 million upgrade to become a major hub for Reserve Forces in the region.
This move also allows it to host RMR Scotland (Tyne Detachment) for the first time. Previously RMR Tyne was located in its own Reserve Centre, Anzio House, on the Newcastle side of the River Tyne. Recent defence restructuring and the MOD’s Future Reserves 20 programme envisages the co-location of both the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marines Reserve units on Tyneside on one site, in order to reduce the overall infrastructure cost of the Maritime Reserve.
Tyneside has been home to a Royal Naval Reserve unit for 100 years but HMS CALLIOPE, the unit’s current home, was in need of refurbishment and renovation, and this has now been made possible by funding from the Royal Navy and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Renovations included improvements to the external appearance of the building, a state of the art fitness suite with climbing wall, boat store, new classroom and office facilities to cater not only for Royal Naval Reserves (RNR) and Royal Marines Reserves (RMR), but also the other units currently based at HMS CALLIOPE: Defence Training Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS), University Royal Naval Unit (URNU), Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO). The North of England RFCA awarded the job to SURGO Construction in December 2014 and work began in January 2015. The project has been managed throughout by the NE RFCA under the direction of the Chief Executive, Col Jonny Hackett and Head of Estates, Mr Paul Harrison.
The official rededication parade took place in Baltic Square on Saturday 9 April with local Reservists and The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland parading in front of local business and civic dignitaries, senior naval officers, members from the NE RFCA together with the Architects and contractors plus families and friends.