Survey ship HMS Enterprise is leading a task group of NATO minehunters around the Mediterranean.

In company with Turkey’s TCG Akcay and Spain’s ESP Segura, the vessel headed to Bar, Montenegro’s principal port and naval base.

There the NATO force laid on a SURFEX to determine if the vessel evade a fast-moving attack craft, played by one of Enterprise’s boats. According to the Royal Navy:

“The workout was observed by several Montenegrin officers – some on Enterprise, others on the minehunters; the latter were not merely expected to keep the RIB at bay, but also continue their day jobs of scouring the depths for mines.

The waters around Bar have not been surveyed by a modern British ship…until now, as Enterprise turned to her impressive suite of scanners, and also lowered her sound velocity dip to record the temperature of the Adriatic at various depths.

Montenegro ranks 164th of nations with a population of 642,000 – bigger than Glasgow, smaller than Leeds – and an area slightly smaller than Yorkshire.

After the usual formalities in Bar with the Montenegrin authorities – at the core of their Navy are a couple of small frigates and two fast patrol boats, all dating back to the days when the country was part of Yugoslavia – the force sailed through bad weather or 120 miles to Vlore”

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What was that big flat deck area forward of the bridge designed for? It looks too small to be a helicopter flight deck and given they were ordered in June 2000 they were presumably designed in the late 1990s which seems a bit early for it to have been UAV provision plus there is no hangar or storage area with UAV-sized access door to that bit of the deck. My guess would be one or both of a flat area to embark containers if necessary or, given her role as a survey vessel, an area to inflate and launch balloons… Read more »


You know, I’ve never been able to find an official statement of what the deck space is for, but at a guess I’d say its just a big open space for any surveys or tests that need to be conducted outside (e.g. like what you said, launching weather balloons and such).

Also makes for a good rec area when you’re down in the Med 😉

Rob Richardson

Deck Quoits ? Ho Ho


That’s an interesting question, Julian. I had always assumed it was a landing platform for a lynx/wildcat size helicopter. Certainly Echo and sister are useful ships, not just in their primary survey role but in their secondary minehunter role, which they were also designed to fulfill.
Here’s Echo working with the Coastguard.


It is called the VERTREP deck, used for vertical replenishments, but helos can’t land on it as it’s not strong enough. Mostly used for circuit training and sunbathing ?


to me it looks like it was designed for a gun, maybe it was designed to have one fitted if needed or designed for one for other nations that might be interested in the design.

Mike Saul

The HMS Enterprise survey ships are based on the Vard 9 105 design.

The original Vard design incorporated a flight deck for a helicopter at the rear of the vessel.

The RN decided against the rear flight deck but there was still a need for helicopter resupply, so a space was incorporated forward of the bridge were vertical replenishment can be achieved with a slung load dropped/placed by the helicopter without actually needing to land on the ship

There are photos on the internet which a Merlin helicopter resupplying HMS Enterprise with a slung load.


why can’t they slung load drop into the space at the rear, it seems big enough for basic supplies.

Mike Saul

When has the RN done a thing the easy way?

Not sure why it was completed in this configuration, can only assume it has something to do with the sensitivity of the survey equipment fitted.


I love the depth of knowledge of the contributors here. Many thanks to all who answered my question, especially Mike who seems to have supplied the definitive answer.


Paddled up to her in a double canoe when she visited Durban some years back. Was having a conversation with a polite young crewman about matters Naval until the local Harbour Police suitably armed warned us to step(paddle) back!
A fine looking ship.


Are you a South African? My dad was a Saffa and I now spend 5 months a year in Cape Town where most of my surviving (Dad’s side) of the family are. My aunt has a holiday cottage in Simon’s Town so I often go past the navy base with the Meko-derived frigates and other ships there including, last December I think, an RFA ship. I forget which ship I but remember passing the base and thinking “that’s a big ship” and subsequently reading that RFA something-or-other had visited Simon’s Town.


I live in SA Julian although I was born in London of NI parents so early years Belfast and London but Africa since 1961. Seen lots of RN ships in Durban over the decades. The Meko frigate and a submarine were here last year with OPV’s and replenishment vessels during armed forces week-made for quite a display.
Cape is beautiful.
Cheers from Durbs