AN ISLAND inhabited by thousands of birds but just eight people has been the latest stopping point for HMS Montrose as it continues its South Atlantic patrol. Gough Island is one of four which make up the British territory of Tristan de Cunha and
As well as its permanent feathered residents, it is also currently home to two members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) who are engaged in conservation, and six members of the South African Weather Service who forecast the weather fronts which are pushed onto the Western African Cape by the strong westerly winds of the Roaring Forties.
Found 230 nautical miles south-east of the island Tristan, the island also has special naval connections as it is named after Captain Charles Gough who carried out a similar patrol there for the Royal Navy in 1731. He commanded HMS Richmond, an ancestor of the modern-day Type 23 Duke Class frigate of the same name and a sister ship to HMS Montrose.
The island is a World Heritage Site and its importance arises from the vast number of colonies of rare birds found there, including almost the entire world population of Tristan Albatross and Atlantic Petrel. These were highly visible when Montrose launched its Lynx helicopter to conduct an airborne reconnaissance and fisheries patrol of the island’s waters.
Montrose’s stay in the area was short, however, and the frigate is continuing its patrol of British territories in the South Atlantic.
Commanding Officer Commander Jonathan Lett said: “This has been another unique opportunity for Montrose and her ship’s company.
“Just as with our visits to Ascension, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, it has been a real privilege to visit one of the most isolated British South Atlantic Overseas Territories as part of our mission in the region.”