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Montrose ‘ready to hit ground running’ on latest Gulf mission

Montrose ‘ready to hit ground running’ on latest Gulf mission
22 September 2020
A NEW crew have taken charge of the Royal Navy’s most important warship in the Gulf, ready to safeguard shipping in the region.

Montrose is the pilot ship for the Royal Navy’s growing Forward Presence programme, stationing warships long-term around the globe, changing crews regularly and sparing the vessels the lengthy journeys to and from the UK.

The frigate has been operating from the UK’s base in Bahrain for the past 18 months, assigned two crews – Port and Starboard – who take it in turns to operate the ship for around four months at a time.

She spends most of her time providing reassurance to merchant shipping operating in the Gulf and off the Horn of Africa working for the International Maritime Security Construct and Combined Maritime Forces – two multi-national naval organisations committed to peace and security in waters East of Suez.

The latest changeover saw 200 men and women of the Port crew hand over to their Starboard counterparts.

The former have endured operations at the height of the Gulf summer – temperatures of 55C on occasions – while the incoming crew have enjoyed time at home with loved ones before resuming training ready to return to the Middle East.

The past four months back home have allowed us to spend some much needed time with our family and friends and support them as the country tackles Covid. We are ready to hit the ground running – you can see the hard work the ship’s company have put in to maintain our operational skills.

Commander Charles Collins, commanding officer of Starboard crew

Both crews have had their lives disrupted by the global pandemic, from limiting opportunities to get ashore and worrying about families under lockdown while at sea to the need to self-isolate when necessary and protect ‘bubbles’ to ensure the ship is always ready for front-line operations.

Commander Charles Collins, commanding officer of the incoming crew, said: "The past four months back home have allowed us to spend some much needed time with our family and friends and support them as the country tackles Covid. We are ready to hit the ground running – you can see the hard work the ship’s company have put in to maintain our operational skills."

Upon arriving in Bahrain in May, Port crew vowed to help those affected by the disease by raising money for charities and organisations at the forefront of the battle against Covid.

The sailors and marines set themselves the goal of running around the world: 24,901 miles/40,075 kilometres, or 160,300 laps of the upper deck… which meant each man and woman aboard had to run roughly 200 laps per month.

“Coronavirus had a huge impact on HMS Montrose,” explained Lieutenant Commander Dave Barnes, Port crew’s weapon engineer officer.

“We deployed a week earlier than planned from our families, for a seven-day period of isolation in the UK before a two-week quarantine period in theatre prior to embarking in Montrose.”

The ‘run laps around Coronavirus’ raised nearly £1,100, but back in the UK the Starboard crew outdid them… and they ‘only’ had 3,312 miles to cover.

The sailors handed over £3,360 to staff at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital, raised by a combined effort of crew and their families running to cover the distance between Bahrain and Plymouth.

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