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Nice to see Ewe as Scottish sailor goes home

Nice to see Ewe as Scottish sailor goes home
As HMS Montrose was underway near Loch Ewe off the coast of Scotland during Exercise Joint Warrior 18, Leading Seaman (LS) Jonathan Murray was overheard to say, “I can see my house from here” on the bridge.

Nice to see Ewe as Scottish sailor goes homeWhen the Captain asked if he was serious, and LS Murray (a Seaman Specialist on HMS Montrose) pointed a finger to an idyllic sheep farm on the Highlands coastline, a plan was quickly drawn up to get him home.

During a lull in the action the Seaman Spec and his colleague LS Sarah Griffiths were given a boats brief from the Officer of the Watch, charts were studied and a plan was formed. 

LS Murray was given permission to drive the PAC 24 (a rigid inflatable) the 6 miles to Aultbea pier, about a mile from the family home.

Arriving at Aultbea, the first person to see the killick spec was his auntie Anne who had been given the heads up that he was coming via a quick highlands jungle telegraph message. 

His aunt had driven to the pier and collected Jonathan to take him the short distance back to the house, where on arrival he was greeted by his grandmother and an array of animals on the family farm.

I joined to gain some experience of life away from a small village and the last 7 years have flown by. The Royal Navy has become a home from home for me and I can’t see myself leaving in the near future and want to gain further promotion and possibly a commission

Leading Seaman Jonathan Murray, Seaman Specialist on HMS Montrose

As he entered the farm stead, LS Murray was hit with a multitude of baking smells, as Grandma Wiseman had been creating a fresh batch of pancakes, scones and cream cakes.  Once fortified with baked goods, the Seaman Spec went on a quick tour of the croft to see what had changed since his last visit. 

The Wiseman family have been farming in the area for well over 100 years and it was a hard choice for a young Jonathan Murray to leave.

Giving the reason why, he said, “I joined to gain some experience of life away from a small village and the last 7 years have flown by. The Royal Navy has become a home from home for me and I can’t see myself leaving in the near future and want to gain further promotion and possibly a commission”.

After the hour long visit and whilst the weather was still sunny and the seas were calm, Jonathan said his goodbyes, returned to the Pac 24 and speedily returned to the ship with LS Griffiths. 

When asked what it was like to get home, he said, "it was a surreal experience being able to mix work with home life, I live on board and still commute back to the highlands in my leave”. 

The Royal Navy provides an allowance package that pays for home travel to those that do not live in the base port areas of Portsmouth, Plymouth or Faslane.     

The Seaman Specialist (Spec) branch performs a host of duties and can be said to be the 'true' sailors of the Royal Navy. They are specifically trained to helm the ship and also to Cox’n (steer) the ship’s boats like the Pacific 24, a Rigid Inflatable Boat with speeds of up to 38 Knots. 

In charge of the ship's Seamanship Ratings is the Chief Bosun’s Mate, or 'the Buffer' as he is known to the men and women on board, who oversees the Seaman Specialists in their everyday duties.

In recent years the branch has been expanded to undertake the tactical communications role using Morse flashing light and good old fashioned signalling using flags.

Finally these professional Seamen, supervise the other sailors during evolutions such as Replenishment at Sea, towing, rigging equipment and coming alongside, which can be a very rewarding and satisfying job, especially when the weather offers challenging conditions.

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