THE CREW of HMS Montrose still managed to enjoy their festive celebrations at the weekend, despite being more than 8,000 miles from home.
And with the ship’s current deployment in the South Atlantic, they were looking forward to a greater possibility than most of a white Christmas.
Many of the preparations were planned well in advance of Montrose’s departure from Plymouth in October - including taking on board a consignment of decorations, crackers, more than 220 pounds of turkey and more than 100 pounds of sprouts.
Gifts were purchased well in advance and stowed for sea and, of course, the funnels checked to ensure the necessary clearance for Santa to embark.
There is, however, only so much long-term planning that can be done and last-minute preparations were made during a recent port visit. With the continued support from British Forces Post Office, HMS Montrose received a morale-boosting delivery of nearly 150 bags of mail.
The crew also had the chance to post cards and presents home, allowing those with younger relatives to send a special souvenir of their South Atlantic deployment.
Funded as part of the MOD Operational Welfare Grant, the Rocky the Rockhopper books by John Walker tell the story of a young Rockhopper Penguin growing up on an island in the South Atlantic. Each book was signed by the ship’s commanding officer, Commander Jonathan Lett, and sent in time to meet the last post for Christmas.
Commander Lett emphasised the importance of keeping in touched with loved ones during a deployment.
He said: “Keeping in touch with home is essential whenever and wherever we are deployed, and it is even more important at this time of year.
“I was keen to send something back which would appeal to the children of those serving in HMS Montrose. The Rocky books are great fun.”