Portsmouth warship boards fishing vessels in the North Sea

HMS Severn on her first boarding inspection of 2017

HMS Severn on her first boarding inspection of 2017

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EAGLE-EYED sailors from one of the navy’s oldest squadrons have conducted their first operation of 2017 by inspecting fishing vessels in the North Sea.

HMS Severn knuckled down to business after a brief Christmas break, boarding boats in the first two days of her eastern patrol.

Approaching as the first light of day began to illuminate the sea, Sub Lieutenant Robbie Neilson and Leading Chef Nathan 'Pat' Garrett, Severn's senior boarding officer and his assistant, climbed up the swinging vertical ladder on to the vessel's deck to inspect the ship

Approaching as the first light of day began to illuminate the sea, Sub Lieutenant Robbie Neilson and Leading Chef Nathan 'Pat' Garrett, Severn's senior boarding officer and his assistant, climbed up the swinging vertical ladder on to the vessel's deck to inspect the ship

The Portsmouth-based patrol ship is part of the navy team tasked with enforcing international maritime fishing laws – a role which harks back to the 14th century.

Sub Lieutenant Robbie Neilson and Leading Chef Nathan ‘Pat’ Garrett, Severn’s senior boarding officer and his assistant, where involved in the first inspection of 2017.

Clambering up a swinging vertical ladder, the pair spent six hours scouring the ship in the cold and murky weather of the North Sea.

Sub Lt Neilson said: ‘It’s good to be back on fish.

Navy sailors clamber aboard to inspect the fishing vessel

Navy sailors clamber aboard to inspect the fishing vessel

‘They’re long days – especially when you’re keeping watch overnight as well – but it’s our core business.’

Severn is part of the navy’s fishery protection squadron, made up of three River-class patrol vessels, which includes HMS Mersey and HMS Tyne.

The squad’s primary role is to patrol the UK – a vast area that covers over 80,000 square miles of sea. But they can also deploy to the Caribbean or Mediterranean, where Mersey is operating.

Lieutenant Chris Poulson, Severn’s second-in-command, said it was a demanding task that needed everyone playing their part.

‘Everyone is involved from the bridge team who manoeuvre Severn in close proximity to fishing vessels and the marine engineers who maintain the boats to ensure they’re in tip-top condition, to the weapon engineers who keep the radars turning and the chefs who never seem to leave the galley.’

Typically the ships can spend as many as 300 days a year at sea, patrolling non-stop for a couple of weeks before returning to resupply.

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