HMS Montrose is nearing the end of a six-month deployment to all the British overseas territories in the South Atlantic, following a season of anti-piracy action in the Indian Ocean.
Navy News has an impressive picture of the type-23 frigate approaching Gough Island, photographed from the air. See it on the Navy News website.
HMS Dauntless is due to take over the routine South Atlantic tour – though Argentina has interpreted the deployment of the Type 45 destroyer as military aggression.
HMS Montrose has already visited Ascension, St Helena, the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Its mission statement says: ‘The Atlantic Patrol Task (South) ship provides reassurance to UK overseas territories, Commonwealth countries and other friendly nations in the South Atlantic, and acts as a deterrent to potential aggressors who may wish to threaten UK nations, territory or interests.
‘The ship is responsible for maintaining British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, including South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.’
A report from the ship for Navy News says HMS Montrose is thought to be the first Royal Navy vessel to visit Gough Island in the past decade.
The island, 230 miles from Tristan da Cunha, is a World Heritage Site, breeding ground for ‘almost the entire world population of Tristan albatross and Atlantic petrel – all of which were very much in evidence when Montrose launched her Lynx helicopter to conduct an airborne reconnaissance and fisheries patrol of the island’s waters.’
Gough – named after a Naval captain who visited in 1731 – is temporary home to six members of the South African Weather Service, and two staff of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Commander Jonathan Lett of HMS Montrose tells Navy News: ‘Just as with our visits to Ascension, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands earlier in the deployment, 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.’
On South Georgia, ship’s crew went ashore at Grytviken on December 16 and dealt with recent ordnance finds, including a two-inch mortar and two rifle grenades. See a spectacular picture here.
The ship sailed for the South Sandwich Islands the following day, patrolling down the remote island chain until prevented from going further south by ice.
HMS Montrose has a complement of 185 officers and ratings and is equipped with the latest weapons, sensors and communications systems, including the vertical-launch Sea Wolf missile system for close air defence, a 4.5-inch (114mm) gun, anti-submarine torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a Lynx helicopter.