A CEREMONY marking Portsmouth-based minehunter, HMS Cattistock’s return to frontline duty following a major refit took place in Portsmouth Naval Base today.
The, carried out by BAE Systems in Portsmouth, includes new engines and means that the minehunter can sail faster, stay at sea longer, and will extend the ship’s life to 2030 and beyond.
The head of the Royal Navy First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas joined the proud ship’s company as guest of honour with his wife, Lady Amanda Zambellas to celebrate the Cattistock’s achievements.
As a previous commanding officer of the minehunter, he has a particular interest in the ship – in 1991 he became the sixth naval officer to take command.
The admiral said: ‘As her former commanding officer, it was a privilege to join HMS Cattistock’s current ship’s company, their guests and affiliates, to share in this special occasion.’
And to mark the new chapter in the vessel’s history, the ship’s company joined the head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas to recreate Cattistock’s original commissioning photo from 1982.
Praising Cattistock’s current team, he added: ‘Even in a quieter, smaller, less visible part of the fleet, huge professionalism is ready to be served to make our frontline as effective as it is and as strong as it is.’
Music to mark the rededication was provided by the Royal Marines Band with youngsters from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Training Cadets providing the guard of honour.
As well as celebrating the ship’s new kit, the day was also a chance to praise Petty Officer James Bride and Chief Petty Officer Steve Rogers, who received top awards for their commitment to duty.
CPO Rogers was presented with the prestigious Commander Joint Operations Commendation while PO Bride was awarded the Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla Commendation for his tenacious efforts in getting Cattistock ready for her deployment.
PO Bride, who lives in Fareham with his wife and two children, said the day had been the highlight of his career.
‘After 18 years in the Royal Navy this has been the most rewarding period I’ve had up to now after serving on destroyers and frigates,’ said the 34-year-old.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Simon Cox was excited to get Cattistock up and running again.
He said. ‘She has been stripped back bare and rebuilt from the ground up.
‘Being part of a ship like Cattistock is fantastic because you really understand and are close up and personal with every single one of your sailors. It genuinely is a very close-knit team.’
After the 30-minute ceremony on the ship, the guests rallied inside a marquee to take part in another naval tradition – the cutting of the cake.
Lady Amanda was joined by Cattistock’s youngest crew member, 19-year-old Jake Colquhoun, an engineering technician. Together, they cut a celebratory cake.
Cattistock is now set to head to Poole for remembrance ceremonies this weekend.
She will deploy to the Gulf next year.