HMS MONTROSE returned home on Friday to a rousing welcome after more than six months on deployment in the South Atlantic.
The ship was greeted by cheering, banner-waving families on the quayside at Plymouth Naval Base when it sailed in to port to the sound of a seven-gun salute from members of 29 Commando, positioned at Plymouth Citadel, as well as a musical accompaniment by the Royal Marine Band.
In recognition of the ship’s Scottish connections and its long-standing affiliation with 29 Commando, a lone piper played on the ship’s bridge wing.
The frigate has spent the last six-and-a-half months visiting the UK’s overseas territories as a reassuring naval presence in the South Atlantic region.
Commanding officer Jonathan Lett hailed the deployment as a success and praised his crew for their dedication.
He said: “Having navigated over 35,000 nautical miles, patrolled in three oceans, visited five continents and six British overseas territories there is a real sense of achievement amongst my ship’s company.
“From the frozen wastes of the South Sandwich Islands to the tropical paradise of Bermuda we have faced some significant challenges but the team can be justifiably proud of a job well done.
“My ship’s company are clearly glad to be home and back with their families after six-and-a-half months away. I am fully aware that much of what we achieved would not have been possible without the support of our loved ones.
“After a long deployment it is vitally important that everyone has the opportunity to take leave, spend time with their families and friends and essentially recharge their batteries in advance of the next challenge.”
HMS Montrose deployed last October and since then has travelled 35,336 miles and visited 13 different ports, as well as navigating in and around interesting locations, including rounding Cape Horn, patrolling sub-Antarctic islands until blocked by ice before finally transiting the Magellan Straits and the Panama Canal.
Ports of call included Ascension Island, St Helena, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cuhna and Bermuda, a record matched by few ships in recent years. The crew also called in at New Orleans, guests of the US Navy, as part of the celebrations of the 1812 war.
Alongside ships from the USA, France, and Canada as well as tall ships from Ecuador, Indonesia and the US Coast Guard, Montrose opened up to 2,300 visitors over the course of a week and her sailors were welcomed both ashore and by the other participating navies.
Commander Lett added: “It is important for those who are resident on the Islands to know that we can and do reassure them of our presence and that they are not forgotten in such a remote location”.
The crew will now have a much-needed period of leave while the ship will undergo an intensive maintenance programme before returning to operational duties later this year.