Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Warm welcome for HMS Mersey in Cartagena

30 March 2016
HMS Mersey was serenaded into port on the latest stop of her Caribbean deployment as the Band of the Colombian Navy greeted her in Cartagena.

After two weeks of patrols in the western Caribbean on the lookout for drug-runners, the Portsmouth-based warship paid her first visit to South America.

As has become routine since she left home in January, once alongside and once the band had stopped playing, the sailors assembled the awning to host an evening reception in hot and humid conditions.

Guests from the Colombian Navy, including sailors from Mersey’s hosts ARC 20 de Julio – a patrol vessel similar to the British craft – plus representatives from UK Trade and Industry were shown the bridge, sickbay, sea boats and, with a team from the Fleet Diving Unit embarked, received an additional briefing on diving and mine/bomb disposal.

Rear Admiral Simon Ancona, Assistant Chief of Staff Defence Engagement, embarked for the evening before heading to the Caribbean Security Conference being held in the city. 

With tours complete, Contralmirante Ramirez Gafaro, the Commander of Caribbean Naval Forces took the salute for a ceremonial sunset.

The next day crew sailors from Mersey and ARC 20 de Julio traded places for a look around their respective ships, while ten Britons were treated to a look at miniature semi-submersible craft used by drug smugglers to sneak narcotics along the coastline towards Nicaragua and Honduras – but were intercepted by the Colombian Navy.

The Colombian sailors also treated Mersey’s ship’s company to a tour of Cartagena’s walled old town with its 16th-Century plazas, cobblestone streets and colourful colonial buildings. 

With its busy nightlife, street entertainment and amazing steak restaurants, the old town was the perfect opportunity for Mersey’s sailors to buy their postcards and souvenirs.

Despite the 35˚C heat, Mersey – bolstered by US Coast Guard personnel who conduct boarding operations on drug busts – gamely took to the football pitch for a match against the ARC 20 de Julio… and lost.

With all defence engagement complete, Mersey is now heading for Trinidad and Guyana on the next stage of her patrol; the latter South American country hasn’t seen a Royal Navy presence in 20 years.

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.