HMS Montrose has passed through the Panama Canal on her way to the Pacific Ocean.

Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, Commander Conor O’Neill, said:

“Transiting the Panama Canal is another significant milestone on our global deployment and it was a great experience for all of us. Thanks to the hard work of all on board, the transit went very smoothly.”

The Type 23 Frigate is to be forward-deployed in the Middle East. According to the Royal Navy, the vessel will be based in the region for more than three years, although her ship’s company will rotate to the vessel and home again beginning in Spring 2019.

“This forward-deployment serves two purposes – to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to maritime security in the Gulf while also ensuring those on board can enjoy more stability in their home lives.”

In a release, the Royal Navy say that Montrose will deploy for ‘defence engagement activity’ and maritime security operations prior to arriving at the newly-opened UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.

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Forget which end is involved but a private Chinese entity now owns and operates the seaport at one end of the Panama canal… I think the atlantic end. Landbridge is the entity.

james harrington

Pete mate, apparently your comment just solicited zero responses!!!!!

This is exactly how the PRC will control so many aspects of the next conflict in Asia, or anywhere a transit of the canal is required. They can shut the Canal in a minute with systems probably already installed to close this route. Some people know the extent of infiltration into other countries by the PRC, others are oblivious, but it being going on for years now. Every Chinese population center, outpost of commerce or international business in every country is still controlled by the tentacles of the PRC central government.



Indeed. Have seen the PRC stretch influence into Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka…. All in name of trade but all very strategic locations…. Years ago… And don’t think it came to anything, they were looking at a direct rail link from China to naval base on Andaman sea across Myanmar. Indians were highly agitated, as were Thais, Malays, Indonesians and Singapore as port base sat on top of straights of Hormuz and trade links between SE Asia and anything west of that.

Same entity that owns the port in Panama also runs Darwin Port


I should of course have typed ‘malacca straight’

Cam Hunter

We should have an eastern fleet once again……we need it now more than ever.


To be honest I’d be happy if we just had reasonable increases in what we currently have, say total 25 frigates & destroyers, 2 or 3 more Astute subs and enough F35s to fill the QE.


I agree, I think when the T26 enters service we will work more closely with Australia and it will be good to ensure interoperability, but I don’t see us permanently bases ships out there. They don’t need us anymore and for all the rhetoric over the south china sea I don’t see a war kicking off over it.


I dont see the phillipines or Malaysia getting involved in hostilities but there have been hostilities and or robust military re deployments when the Chinese have stepped on toes of the Vietnamese or the Indonesians over the past couple of decades.

Securing marine food supply rights and energy rights are big issues when you have hundreds of millions to feed. Indonesian population rises by @ 3million each year and China claims Natuna island which dominates the southern part of the SCS. The Indonesians would resist!!

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. Sensible, affordable, realistic increases in certain areas rather than whole sale salami slicing to fit a budget.

Cam Hunter

I wish we had the Fleet we once had, even half the size is far more than what we now have but that was a different time when Britain ruled the waves. But we will still be sending Royal Navy and RFA ships East no matter what we have, we should atleast base some East at the new RN base in bahrain.


At the end of the day a Type 23 frigate, Bay class LSD, two Hunt class and two Sandown class based East of Suez permanently along with other vessels on rotations/transits is a good enough stab at an ‘Eastern Fleet’ given the current commitments/size of the Navy.

Cam Hunter

Yeah I supose your right, and the new RN base helps. I’m sure HMS QE will be deployed in the area for a big part of her life also, isn’t that why the RN built the new new base east of suez?


Will you stop saying that to anyone who expresses the opinion that we need more?! Which is pretty much everyone here.

And yes, I’d be prepared to pay a little extra if it went on defence.


I wonder if this will be her last deployment, quite likely given the ship will be 27/28 years old when it arrives back in UK waters. I hope we adopt recommendations in the NSS so that we never operate fighting ships of that age again.


What would you say should be the life of a fighting ship? I ask as I genuinely have no idea. I’d assume maybe 25 years for frigates, destroyers and subs?

No way will the QD and POW only be around for only that length of time; costing £3billion each, the MoD will want them to last as long as possible. We might possibly see whatever replaces F35 taking off from their decks.


QE and POW will be around for 50 years


I wasn’t being clear. I meant that a constant drumbeat of frigates from a production line under the NSS would mean say 1 new ship a year, therefore we shouldn’t have 30 year old escorts. Assuming of course escort numbers do not miraculously increase!


Interestingly the Americans have a 30 year old sub visiting Faslane at the moment. Have p,ent of old surface ships too, age as a number is only half the story.

Paul T

Steve – the Type 23’s were built with an expected service life of 19 years so I think they have excelled themselves in that regard.


As Montrose does not have a tail, the strain on the hull over her life will have been considerably less than a tail equipped vessel. The T23 have excelled considering they where known as Skoda class when they first came into service due to the cost savings introduced onto them in hull materials, accommodation spec and the then proposed operating tempo where they did 30 days at sea, came alongside and everything was done for the crew by contractors ( that did not last very long!) The manpower requirement onboard has increased, the equipment fit has increased and the capabilities… Read more »

Paul T

Gunbuster – very interesting,when you say ‘Hull Materials’ I’m guessing the quality of steel used or indeed the thickness,perhaps that explains why those undergoing LIFEX seem to need a lot of platework to repair some sections.


Montrose was one of the first ships to be fitted with the Sea Ceptor, ARTISAN, and the new CMS. I imagine she’ll come out of service along with Argyll when the first of the T26s are ready to have the combat systems transplanted onto them.

David Steeper

Steve there are too many imponderables to be able to guarantee life expectancy of ships. A tour in the north atlantic would take more out of a ship than one in the med or indian ocean for example. This would be reflected in how long and how expensive the refits would be. It’s a balance between the cost of keeping her operational and combat effective in deciding new build or modernisation.


I’m glad this article is here. This ship recently visited Chile, which wasnt really reported anywhere but something that made me deeply proud. Furthermore, if you go to the royal navy website and read the news for this ship, one of the articles points out how we currently have/had the following ships deployed across the globe: 5 frigates, 2 destroyers, 2 bay class ships, 1 Albion class ship, 2 mcm ships, 1 QE carrier plus those mcm ships deployed in the gulf. I find this spectacular and am saddened how good news doesn’t get reported but bad items do.


Human nature sadly. Bad news makes for more eye-catching headlines.


Remember, the USN is extending the life of EVERY AB out to 45 years so a 30 year old vessel isn’t too old to be effective as long as it is maintained and updated. The USS Pittsburgh mentioned here on the Journal is 34 years old…