The crew of the Royal Naval warship HMS Montrose has bade farewell to her outgoing Captain before the ship enters dry dock for re-fit in Plymouth.
The 14th commanding officer, Commander James Parkin, handed over to the ship’s new temporary captain – a Marine Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Fergus Ochtman-Corfe.
Commander Parkin has been in command since July 2012. The ship has visited 24 foreign ports in 13 different countries and travelled the equivalent of almost three times the circumference of the earth. She took part in two exercise deployments of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (deployable at short-notice worldwide), patrolled the Persian Gulf and escorted Syrian chemical weapons under UN mandate.
She was the UK’s contribution to an annual exercise in the Baltic, after which she visited her affiliated hometown of Montrose for the first time in six years.
But it has hasn’t all been hard work for the ship. Under Commander Parkin’s lead there has been time for the human touch. The crew has worked diligently for various charities with the Ship’s Company raising £13,000 in 2013-14, and staged a charity auction in London, where the Patron of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, HRH The Princess Royal visited. At sea, the ship has hosted a number of fun events, from a Highland Games on the flight deck (off Bahrain!) in honour of the ship’s Scottish connections, a ‘Row the Suez’ indoor challenge, and a nativity play when the ship was at sea on Christmas Day.
All this hard work and play had its rewards, as during 2013 and 2014, a praiseworthy 94 members of the crew were selected for promotion - a record achievement for the ship. Formal recognition came to when the ship’s photographer Alex Knott was awarded the accolade as Royal Navy Photographer of the Year at the Peregrine Trophy Awards.
HMS Montrose’s Lynx helicopter 214 Flight from 815 Naval Air Squadron (RN Air Station Yeovilton) were this week presented with the Osprey Trophy for best Ship’s Flight in 2013/14.
Commander Parkin said: “I have been privileged to command the best ship’s company in the Royal Navy, and humbled by their enthusiasm, and attitude of the hundreds of sailors, marines and officers. I could not have wished for a finer ship, or better people to be prepared to potentially go to war with.”
HMS Montrose is scheduled to return to sea in 2016.