Royal Navy in gun salute as HMS Montrose returns to port after 4 years ‘safeguarding UK’ | UK | News
A Royal Navy Gun Salute has welcomed the return of HMS Montrose to Britain. The frigate returned home after four years of service in the Gulf, Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
The iconic ship left Bahrain in November after three years based in the Persian Gulf island nation. It is scheduled to be shut down next year.
Commander Claire Thompson said: “Returning after a four-year absence, just in time for Christmas, and with 800 of our families and friends waiting for us at the jetty, means the ship has been excited and full of expectations all week.
“The homecoming is a big event that we have been looking forward to for the past six months. Some of our younger sailors have never experienced the thrill of bringing a ship home and having their families at the dock to meet them – I am sure they will never forget it.
“I am enormously proud of what my team and the ship have achieved over these four years. It’s fantastic to bring them all home for the festive season, especially considering we were away last year – we were actually doing boarding operations on Christmas Day 2021.”
When not in use, HMS Montrose is stationed at HMNB Devonport in Plymouth, Devon, one of three British naval bases and the largest in Europe, according to the Royal Navy.
The salute was heard across Plymouth at around 9:15am today (16 December) and red, white and green fireworks were set off to mark the occasion. PlymouthLive reports.
Seaman’s Specialist Able Seaman Charlie Grant said: “The ship has done some worthwhile work and I am proud to have been a part of it.”
Weapons Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Ellis Pearson added: “We are also truly grateful to be the crew that brought HMS Montrose back to the UK after four years.
“The ship is now 30 years old and her recent homecoming was very emotional for all of us.”
Since entering service, HMS Montrose has traveled 420,377 miles. According to the Royal Navy, she has a maximum range of about 7,500 miles without refueling and a total displacement of 4,950 tons. Her return to the UK comes after three and a half years patrolling Middle East waters. At the beginning of her operations in the region, the ship responded to threats and attacks by pirates on merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
She escorted 132 merchant ships through the narrow gateway to the Gulf and helped thousands of tons of goods, including oil, gas, automobiles and electronics, safely navigate the route.
Montrose has spent most of her time east of Suez, working with regional and international allies. She was frequently assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces, the world’s largest multinational naval partnership.
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The ship worked specifically with Combined Task Force 150, which conducts security patrols over much of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
Montrose has also seized more than 16 tonnes of illegal narcotics worth at least £80million from the UK wholesale drug market since 2020.
The frigate has now been succeeded by HMS Lancaster, named after the Duke of Lancaster, which carries 185 men and has a top speed of over 28 knots.
Lead Seaman Lewis Turnbull said before Montrose’s return to the UK: “I am proud to now be part of her very last crew, especially for having been the most operational Type 23 frigate for so long. But we are also all looking forward to seeing her back in the UK for Christmas.”
Lieutenant Joe Stutchbury, commander of the ship’s Royal Marines branch, said last month: “HMS Lancaster has some serious work to do as the next frigate to serve in the region.”
After a period of maintenance, Montrose will return to sea early next year for operational duties and a farewell tour, including a visit to her namesake Scottish town. It will be officially decommissioned in the spring.
Montrose’s return comes as Tory MP Dame Caroline Dinenage said a Royal Navy training ground in Hampshire, which was earmarked for sale, is now being retained.
As part of a 2016 review, HMS Sultan at Gosport was one of several Ministry of Defense (MoD) sites to be gradually withdrawn and disposed of.
Gosport MP Dame Caroline said her future was “secure” after an update from the Secretary of State for Defense Procurement, the BBC reports.