HMS Montrose today became the first Royal Navy warship in more than 20 years to berth at the Devonport Navy base in Auckland.
The frigate has been helping in the fight against plastic in the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s really tragic as a mariner to see just how much plastic waste has washed up on these otherwise pristine beaches,” Commanding Officer Conor O’Neill told local media outlet 1 NEWS on arrival into Auckland.
“Some of it’s fishing gear… it’s more plastic barrels, plastic chairs, grills, netting – all sorts of plastic waste which has clearly been dumped in the ocean,” he said.
The vessel also recently made history as she conducted the first visit in over eighteen years to the British Overseas Territory, the Pitcairn Islands; with the last visit being made by HMS Sutherland and RFA Bayleaf in September 2000 as part of their world tour.
In the Royal Navy’s absence, periodic visits are paid by the French Navy’s Polynesian guardship as well as warships from New Zealand that patrol nearby waters to maintain a naval presence in these far flung British waters.
HMS Montrose is currently crossing the globe on her way to take up posting as the Royal Navy’s forward deployed frigate in the Persian Gulf. Since transiting the Panama Canal in November she has joined her Chilean sisters in a fleet review for the Chilean Navy’s bicentenary and spent Christmas at Easter Island.
She is expected to remain forward deployed for the next three years and, unless she also passes through the British Indian Ocean Territory on her way, this could be her last visit to British waters this decade.