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From Stockholm to home for HMS Montrose as her Baltic adventure ends

From Stockholm to home for HMS Montrose
20 July 2018
We may have knocked them out of the World Cup, but that didn’t stop the Swedes offering a warm Scandinavian welcome to HMS Montrose.

Very warm in fact, for it was 34˚ Celsius – more Mediterranean than Baltic – when the Devonport-based frigate sailed into the Swedish capital for a few days’ break.

The Type 23 was given a plum berth in the heart of Stockholm’s old town – in the shadow of the 17th Century yellow-gold Katarina Church for a much-needed rest after two hectic weeks dashing around the waters between Sweden and Finland.

The newly-refitted warship joined Swedish and Finnish vessels for Baltic Cross, the first exercise involving the three navies since Britain committed to closer military co-operation with nations bordering the Baltic.

After that Montrose represented her Navy and nation at 100th birthday celebrations for the Finnish Navy in Turku before navigating the many islands and waterways in the Gulf of Bothnia to visit Stockholm.

On arrival, according to Swedish military tradition, the commanding officer of a visiting warship is given the honour of inspecting the King’s Life Guards at the Royal Palace.

It was a great honour to be asked to inspect the Royal Guard, and though this isn’t normal territory for a sailor, after the Royal Navy’s turn guarding the Royal Palaces in the United Kingdom last year our hosts clearly thought we were ready for it

Commander Conor O’Neill, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose

His ship hosted the British Ambassador to Sweden, David Cairns, who said that the sight of Montrose flying the Union Jack in Stockholm’s old town was “beautiful”.

He met the frigate on her approach to the city, other guests – a group of Swedish MPs, defence officials and military officers – filed aboard to look around the souped-up frigate once she was berthed.

Less formally, the time in Stockholm allowed a large group of serving and retired local sailors and embassy staff to come aboard for an afternoon of tours.

That hospitality was reciprocated with guided tours of the city for the British sailors, including a visit to the world-renowned Vasa Museum, which holds a 17th century warship recovered from the harbour, much like the Mary Rose in Portsmouth. 

“Stockholm was a vibrant but also really peaceful place to visit – it was just at the right time after some time at sea,” said warfare specialist Leading Seaman Ed Harrison.

The frigate is now bound for her namesake town on Scotland’s east coast for a rare visit; she’ll be in port at South Side, opening her gangway to the public on Sunday July 22 between 10am and 4pm.

Entry is by ticket only – you can apply for one here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hms-montrose-open-day-free-event-tickets-48057468181

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