HMS Medway has paid her first visit to the Rock, say the Royal Navy.
The second of the UK’s five new River-class patrol vessels left Portsmouth at the beginning of last week to take up permanent station in the Caribbean as part of the Navy’s new ‘forward presence’ initiative – basing ships long-term around the globe and rotating crews every few weeks, rather than bringing the vessels back to the UK every six or so months.
According to a news release:
“In Medway’s case, the mission is Atlantic Patrol Ship (North), a task performed admirably and expertly by RFA Mounts Bay for the past three years: humanitarian aid in the event of hurricanes, supporting the international fight against drug trafficking and reassuring citizens of British territories peppered around the North Atlantic/Caribbean that the mother country is there for them. The first of those British citizens to receive that reassurance will be the inhabitants of Bermuda (pop. 71,176) after a 3,350-mile journey across the Atlantic.
Medway took on final supplies and fuel for that passage in Gib, then gave her sailors the chance to explore Britain’s Mediterranean territory with sights such as the top of the Rock and visits to the Donkey’s Flipflop. The ship used the 1,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to put her flight deck to use, conducting training with a Wildcat from 815 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton, flashed up her main 30mm cannon with a spot of gunnery funnery, and hosted her first bingo night – comprehensively won by the weapon engineering department.”
HMS Medway’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Power, said in another news release:
“It has taken an extraordinary effort to get Medway ready to deploy. Since leaving Scotstoun in June last year we have conducted the fastest generation of a surface ship in recent memory – this has only been possible due to the commitment, loyalty, grit and hard work of my superb ship’s company. I am indebted to them and their families.”
By forward-deploying the newest patrol ships in the Fleet in this way, the Royal Navy say it will be able to retain its more complex and capable vessels for high-end tasks such as escort duties for capital ships and anti-submarine operations.