While their families back home enjoy the holidays, sailors on board HMS Westminster have been putting their skills to good use doing good deeds in Tanzania.
The Portsmouth-based ship and her crew spent Christmas and the new year on deployment in the Indian Ocean.
As part of their operations, they paid a visit to the city of Dar es Salaam and pulled out all the stops joining the locals in training, charitable, sporting, and social activities.
The main focus of the visit was to spend three days training the Tanzania Maritime Law Enforcement Detachment in maritime boarding operations.
But the kind-hearted sailors also went out of their way to help a charity which houses children with disabilities, and those whose parents have died from HIV-related illnesses.
Captain Hugh Beard, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘There was not one member of my ship’s company not involved in one of the events here in Tanzania.
‘It doesn’t matter whether it was national tasking, a charity event, or even a sporting event, they always give 100 per cent.
‘My team can be very proud of what they have achieved. You will find a lot of people in Dar es Salaam now with smiles on their faces and the name HMS Westminster etched into their thoughts.’
Leading Physical Trainer Regaina ‘Reggie’ Cawley masterminded the ship’s charitable efforts in the country. Reggie collected donations of cash, books, clothing, sports equipment, and sweets for local children.
More than 40 members of the ship’s company also volunteered to paint a newly-built care home and pre-school.
LPT Cawley said: ‘I felt like this was something that needed to be done.
‘I had planned to do this before we deployed in August.
‘I had a lot of sports kit saved up and was only too happy to finally have a worthy cause to donate it all to.
‘I would like to thank the commanding officer who was instrumental in helping me obtain the donations.
‘I’d also like to thank the ship’s company who were very happy to offload some of the sweets and biscuits they received in the post this Christmas, especially those who were watching their waistlines.’
When the hard work was over, the sailors were treated to a traditional Swahili lunch and a chance to play games with the children.
Westminster’s boarding team, made up of sailors and Royal Marines, taught the Tanzanian forces how to conduct boarding operations, including how to approach suspect vessels and search them for illicit cargo.
Finally, the Type 23 frigate’s rugby team, called the Warriors, played a match against the Dar Leopards, ending in a 42-28 victory for the local team.