Warship HMS Montrose is preparing to become the Royal Navy’s first frigate to provide an enduring presence in the Gulf as part of the UK’s commitment to security in the Middle East.
The Plymouth-based warship will not see the shores of the UK again for more than three years when she deploys on Monday (29 Oct 18), although her ship’s company will rotate in spring 2019.
This forward-deployment serves two purposes – to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to maritime security in the Gulf while also ensuring those on board can enjoy more stability in their home lives.
“It’s been a really interesting challenge to get ready for this deployment and one that everyone on board has risen to,” says Commander Conor O’Neill, Montrose’s Commanding Officer.
“While crew rotations are nothing new to the Royal Navy, manning systems on this scale are something different and it’s presented a real chance to employ a bit of creativity and use our problem-solving skills.
“We’ve got an incredible deployment ahead of us – we will cross almost every ocean and sail around the world before we reach our destination. There is plenty to look forward to.”
Montrose deploys for defence engagement activity and maritime security operations prior to arriving in the Gulf. She will cross three oceans and visit four continents as she begins her global deployment, before ultimately arriving at the newly-opened UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.
A busy period of weapons testing and operational sea training has seen the ship’s company put through their paces over previous months to get ready for sailing – and their ability to think ahead has been tested too.
“You have to think about things a bit differently when you know your ship won’t be returning to the UK for more than three years,” added Cdr O’Neill.
“But what we have here is a chance to do things differently, and to challenge the status quo a bit to really make this work for the better.”
Devonport-based Montrose deploys as one of the fleet’s first set of ships to carry Sea Ceptor – a world-class new missile system designed to protect the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers.