New Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Medway stops in Gibraltar before tackling Caribbean drug gangs

NEW Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Medway has paid her first visit to Gibraltar before striking out into the Atlantic to begin her long-term mission.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 2:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 10:04 pm
A sailor from HMS Medway watches as they sail away from Gibraltar on their way to the Caribbean. Photo: Royal Navy

The second of the UK’s five new River-class patrol vessels left Portsmouth at the beginning of last week to take up permanent station in the Caribbean as part of the Navy’s new ‘forward presence’ initiative – basing ships long-term around the globe and rotating crews every few weeks, rather than bringing the vessels back to the UK every six or so months.

Medway took on final supplies and fuel for that passage in Gibraltar, then gave her sailors the chance to explore Britain’s Mediterranean territory with sights such as the top of the Rock and visits to the Donkey’s Flipflop.

The ship also used the 1,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to put her flight deck to use, conducting training with a Wildcat from 815 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton, flashed up her main 30mm cannon with a spot of gunnery funnery, and hosted her first bingo night – comprehensively won by the weapon engineering department.

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HMS Medway approaching Gibraltar for the first time after leaving Portsmouth last week. Photo: Royal Navy

She has since set off for her voyage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

Her mission there will Medway supporting the international fight against drug smugglers in the region and being on standby to provide humanitarian aid in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane.

She will be taking over from RFA Mounts Bay, which has been based in the region for the past three years.

Medway will also be on hand to provide reassurance to British citizens in the Caribbean. The first of those will be the inhabitants of Bermuda, which has a population of 71,176, after a 3,350-mile journey across the Atlantic.