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Sailors help critically endangered leopard

2 August 2023
Sailors from HMS St Albans have helped build an enclosure at Dartmoor Zoo for a critically endangered species of big cat.

Forty five members of the crew spent the day at the zoo preparing a new home for an Amur leopard due to arrive in September.

Plymouth-based HMS St Albans is currently in a major refit at Devonport Naval Base and, as the overhaul nears completion, a new ship’s company has been formed.

The work at the zoo was all part of efforts to meld the new group of sailors together as they prepare to bring their ship back to front-line operations. 

Their presence provided an extra attraction to visitors, said the zoo’s chief operations officer Coral Jones.

“It has been great having the team from St Albans join us to help complete the leopard enclosure,” she said.

“Their efforts have helped us get on track with our preparations for the arrival of our new endangered resident, and their presence offered an extra attraction for visitors today.”

Engineer Technician Rufus Comasky was among the sailors involved in the enclosure efforts.

He said: “I have really enjoyed the outreach work. It has been a great break from a fast-paced commissioning period.

I have had chance to work with team members I haven’t worked with before, and had opportunity to lead tasks with other members of ship’s company.

Engineer Technician Rufus Comasky

“I have had chance to work with team members I haven’t worked with before, and had opportunity to lead tasks with other members of ship’s company. 

“I am particularly proud of the fence we have built, and I hope to bring the leadership skills I have exercised today back to work, and hopefully with me as I progress my career.”

HMS St Albans is currently undergoing major upgrades, with new sensors and weapons systems installed, as well as a new power generation and propulsion system – the overhaul is known as the Type 23 life extension, which many of the class have already undergone (the latest of which was HMS Iron Duke).

Lieutenant Commander Byron Linn, the ship’s Executive Officer, said: “Outreach like this helps my team bond – sailors get opportunity to approach a challenge as a collective, and work and chat with other members of ship’s company whom they would not usually work with.

“Collective community outreach is important; Plymouth actively supports the Royal Navy and when opportunity presents itself, it’s great to be able to help.” 

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