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Sailors and Royal Marines keep Britain safe over Christmas

22 December 2017
Thousands of sailors and Royal Marines will be on duty this Christmas, with 13 ships and submarines deployed away and in home waters to keep Britain safe.

More than 4,000 sailors and Royal Marines are deployed across the globe or on heightened readiness to respond to anything that may come their way.

A total of 1,540 men and women are deployed from the sands of the Gulf to the depths of the Atlantic, helping to safeguard the UK’s economic interests. A further 2,485 are being held at immediate readiness for any defence or civil task that may emerge over the festive period.

They all end the year with a big ‘thank you’ from the man in charge of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

He said: “I am immensely proud of the efforts of the entire Naval Service as we enter this Christmas period. It has been a relentlessly busy year as the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have reached all corners of the globe to deliver humanitarian aid, protect the UK’s economic interests, and keep Britain and her people safe.

“We have seen a series of milestones but underpinning all of that has been the hard work of every man and woman who has given their all to deliver. This delivery continues over the Christmas period with one in seven of our people deployed or on duty across the globe.”

Ships away over Christmas stock up with many of the things they needed to celebrate before leaving the UK – crackers, cards, presents, decorations, frozen turkeys – while British Forces Post Office has delivered parcels and post to the four corners of the globe to bring some welcome cheer on the big day.

I’ve had an amazing deployment so far but will be missing my little boy and my family over Christmas. I can’t wait to see them all in the New Year. Although I will be duty on Christmas Day, I will still be able to Facetime my son Oscar and watch him open all his presents

Able Seaman Marcus Brame, 25, who serves on board HMS Middleton, will spend his Christmas Day in the Gulf

Deployed or on duty over the Christmas period and New Year are:

East of Suez

662 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty

North Atlantic

107 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty

  • RFA Mounts Bay on patrol in the Caribbean, having been part of the successful mission to render aid to the stricken region after a devastating hurricane earlier this year;
  • Naval Service personnel embarked with the US Navy.

South Atlantic

184 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty

  • HMS Clyde providing support and reassurance to British citizens overseas;
  • HMS Protector has been taking part in the search mission to find the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan and next will be surveying uncharted waters around the South Atlantic;
  • Plus 42 people on duty in the British Forces Falklands Islands HQ overseeing operations.


152 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty

  • Gibraltar Squadron – HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar – protecting the Rock and its waters
  • HMS Enterprise is acting as the flagship of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2;
  • HMS Echo working as part of counter migration operations in the Aegean;
  • Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines are also deployed on other ships and headquarter operations in the region.

In the UK

1,362 Naval Service personnel deployed or on duty

  • One Type 23 frigate on standby to conduct Fleet Ready Escort duties if required;
  • RFA Wave Knight is on standby to support the Fleet Ready Escort;
  • As does HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Shoreham, 824 NAS, HMS Raider, HMS Tracker, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, HMS Tyne, 814 NAS, 815 NAS, 824 NAS, 848 NAS, and the Maritime Sniper Team who all stand by at immediate readiness.

Submarine Service

One of four strategic deterrent Vanguard-class submarines, conducting a mission the Submarine Service has performed unbroken around the clock for nearly 50 years;

This year marked the 350th nuclear deterrent patrol.

Preparing to deploy in the New Year

The operational tempo of Naval activity in 2018 is set to be equally as busy with a number of deployments planned at the start of the year.

Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan will be the first ship to deploy in 2018, sailing early in the new year to first lead a NATO task group and then safeguard the UK’s economic interests in the Gulf.

Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland will become the first British warship in four years to head to the Far East and Pacific Rim, leaving Plymouth in early January. Later in the year her sister ship, HMS Argyll, will also head to the region.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to resume her trials and later in the year, F-35B Lightning II jets, the UK’s stealth fighters of tomorrow, will have flown on and off the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier for the first time. Around the same time, her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, which will enter the water for the first time this week, is due to welcome her first ship’s company aboard.

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