THE CREW of HMS Montrose marked a significant milestone recently in its six-month deployment in the South Atlantic by observing a traditional naval ceremony.
Homage was paid to King Neptune and his court as the sailors crossed the equator from the northern to the southern hemisphere. It was a repeat of the ship’s own tradition established while on patrol last year when a specially-commissioned certificate was presented to each crew member to mark the occasion.
In the run-up to the ship’s 2010 counter-piracy deployment, the crew discovered the original ceremonial certificates used by Royal Navy vessels to mark the crossing were unavailable. The computer-generated versions were also felt to compare unfavourably with the elaborate, highly decorated certificates depicting Neptune and his court which had been used since the 1940s and 1950s.
A substitute, specially commissioned certificate was presented to the crew based on that issued by the London tourist attraction HMS Belfast. The updated version was designed by artist Andrew Wing who again produced a specially designed certificate for the current deployment with a South Atlantic feel, featuring penguins and other native wildlife.
Commanding officer Commander Jonathan Lett said: “Following on from the fantastic work Andrew did for us in 2010, I’m thrilled with this year’s certificate.
“Rather than issuing the ship’s company with a computer-generated certificate from a colour printer, I wanted something they would be proud to take home as a souvenir not only of crossing the line but also of the deployment. The fact that we have adapted a design previously used in HMS Belfast provides a rich seam of continuity and reflects the key role tradition still has to play in the modern Royal Navy.”
HMS Montrose deployed in October on its tour of duty to maintain a continuous presence protecting British interests.