Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Casino Royal Navy as survey ship Echo represents Britain in Monaco

Surrounded by superyachts owned by billionaires and millionaire playboys, survey ship HMS Echo adds some 'functional pussers' grey chic' to one of the world's most exclusive harbours: Monte Carlo.

The survey ship briefly broke off her international mission dealing with the migrant problem in the central Mediterranean to fly the flag for Britain in Monaco.

Home to the world's most famous casino and grand prix, the tiny nation (two square kilometres - smaller than Echo's home base of Devonport) is also the seat of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), charged with ensuring all the world's seas, oceans and navigable waterways are surveyed and charted.

As one of the world's leading maritime nations - particularly when it comes to providing highly-accurate charts for mariners - Britain dispatched Echo to represent the UK at the inaugural IHO general assembly meeting.

HMS Echo looked even more distinctive, easily stealing the attention and interest of the public, locals and visitors alike.

"In a harbour full of gleaming billionaires' toys and super yachts, the plain grey and unique, functional chic of HMS Echo looked even more distinctive, easily stealing the attention and interest of the public, locals and visitors alike," said Lt David Elsey, the ship's logistics officer.

"Despite some eye-wateringly-expensive company, the specially designed, cutting edge survey ship Echo, had no problem holding her own in terms of price tag."

During the 36-hour 'pit stop', Echo provided the backdrop for Britain's presence at the get together, culminating with the hosting of an official reception aboard on behalf of the UK National Hydrographer, Rear Admiral Tim Lowe, attended by more than 100 guests and delegates representing 36 different countries from Argentina to Japan.

Despite some rather 'un-Mediterranean' wet weather, the evening was a great success and helped support the important international cooperation that ensures safe navigation at sea.

Once the official reception was complete, several members of the Ship's Company proceeded ashore in an attempt to recreate the famous casino scene from the James Bond movie Goldeneye - with varying degrees of success. Alas not everyone (or anyone…) came away driving an Aston Martin, but all enjoyed a unique and prestigious night out.

The following day, most of the ship's company were able to get out and explore the principality, heading back to key sights visited including the casino once again, yacht club, oceanographic museum and the Formula One racetrack.

Navigator Lt Phil Boak visited Monaco with Echo as her gunnery officer three years ago. "Both visits were excellent, particularly for the warm hospitality offered, the opportunity to see the IHO in action and explore the attractions of Monte Carlo."

It also allowed crew to tick the world's second smallest state off their travel bucket list, having already visited number one last month; a brief spell alongside in the Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, allowed them to see the smallest country, the Vatican City.

On completion of the visit, Echo resumed her mission with the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean task group on Operation Sophia, preventing the illegal trafficking of people from Africa to Europe.

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.