Royal Navy’s Ship HMS Medway Knuckles Down to South Atlantic Mission
HMS Medway has swapped the blue skies and high temperatures of the Caribbean for the cool, penguin-filled shores of the Falklands to act as the islands’ persistent Royal Naval presence.
The Offshore Patrol Ship is temporarily filling the shoes of her older sister HMS Forth whilst the latter undergoes refit in Gibraltar – her first major overhaul since leaving the UK over three years ago.
Medway’s task is identical: to reassure British citizens that the UK is permanently on hand to provide support and assistance.
To date, Medway has spent her entire operational career in and around the Caribbean, reassuring the overseas territories, as well as providing disaster relief/humanitarian aid in the wake of natural disaster (most recently in the aftermath of Hurricanes Ian and Fiona) and supporting the fight against the illegal narcotics trade (£24m illegal Class A narcotics seized in tandem with the US Coast Guard).
The long journey south was not without incident; last month Medway’s crew saved all five sailors on an ocean-going tug when it started sinking.
“Traveling the length of the Atlantic from Florida to the Falklands has been another impressive achievement for Medway and her ship’s company,” said Commanding Officer Commander Chris Hollingworth.
“In the space of a month the ship has covered more than 6,500 nautical miles, saved five lives at sea and seamlessly integrated into a new theatre.
“The opportunity to cover the responsibilities of the South Atlantic Patrol Vessel gives my ship’s company the chance to see a new part of the world and they can’t wait to explore the Falkland Islands and witness first-hand the breath-taking scenery and stunning wildlife prevalent in the region.”
A tug helps HMS Medway berth at jetty at East Cove on a fine summer’s day in the Falklands. Credit: Royal Navy
The ship’s new domain embraces not just the main Falklands Islands archipelago but also the wildlife paradise of South Georgia and the even more distant, and uninhabited, South Sandwich Isles.
The climate, environment, seas, wildlife and human inhabitants are all very different from those in the Tropic of Cancer.
All but a few of the ship’s company passed over the Equator for the first time on the voyage south – prompting a traditional seafaring ceremony ‘crossing the line’, featuring lots of dressing up, dunkings in water and good humor… and a certificate from Neptune, ruler of the deep, to mark the occasion.
Having recently joined as Young Officer, Sub Lieutenant Sid James relished the opportunity to join in.
“I’d only travelled as far as France before joining the Royal Navy. In just four months I have already visited four countries spanning two continents. It’s been incredible.’
Medway will begin her first patrol shortly. She is due to remain in the South Atlantic until Forth returns later in the year.