ROYAL Navy sailors were given a tasty treat for their efforts in safeguarding the core ingredient of Britain’s national dish – fish and chips.
Officers and ratings from the navy’s fishery protection squadron queued together to get their free portion of the UK’s favourite dish.
It was all part of national Fish and Chips Day, with this year’s celebration focusing on the critical role the Senior Service plays in defending British fish stocks at sea.
Crews from across Portsmouth Naval Base flocked to bag their take-aways, provided by family-run chippy, Long Johns, based in Dorset.
Jon Long, who owns the fish and chip chain, said it was a pleasure to give something back to the Royal Navy.
‘We’re reliant on the Royal Navy to protect the fishery stock for our futures,’ he said. ‘If that fishery is not protected it’s open to all and sundry.’
Based in Portsmouth, the squadron is responsible for enforcing maritime law in British waters, covering an area of 80,000 square miles.
Lieutenant Commander Hugh Harris is the captain of HMS Tyne and was among those to enjoy the free food.
He said: ‘National Fish and Chips Day goes hand in glove with the Royal Navy’s fishery protection squadron so it’s great to be able to celebrate this and showcase what we do to protect the nation’s fish stock.’
The squadron is the oldest in the navy, having been active for more than 470 years.
Vessels tend to be at sea for 320 days a year, enforcing fishing laws, tackling drug gangs and carrying out escort duties.
Five new, larger batch two offshore patrol vessels are due to replace the older fleet, with uncertainty remaining over the future of the batch one vessels.
But Gary Lewis, vice president of National Edible Oils Distributors Association, which set up the Fish and Chips Day, said: ‘It would be very tricky to deliver as many portions of fish and chips without the help of the Royal Navy.
‘With uncertainties going forward with Brexit and given what is going to happen in the negotiations, I think as many vessels as possible are going to be needed.
‘The fishing industry is keen to get control of British waters so the navy, expanding its fleet would be welcome news.’
He added the navy’s work had made cod fishing in the North Sea more sustainable.