Royal Navy's HMS Severn returns home after Jersey mission

HMS Severn has returned home to Portsmouth after being sent to patrol Jersey in the wake of fishing protests.

By Richard Lemmer
Sunday, 9th May 2021, 12:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th May 2021, 1:38 pm

The River-class offshore patrol vessel, sailed back into Portsmouth Harbour this morning with the crew waving to members of the public.

It followed sister ship HMS Tamar which returned on Friday.

Dozens of French boats approached the port of St Helier in an escalation of a row over post-Brexit fishing rights, with Severn and HMS Tamar sent to monitor the situation.

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Fishermen in Portsmouth welcome back HMS Severn from her deployment to assist the fishermen of Jersey Picture: Solent News and Photo Agency

Although the demonstration was halted by Thursday afternoon and the fishing boats returned to France, the French navy also sent two of its ships to monitor the situation.

The UK Government has said it will now work with France and Jersey to resolve the dispute before it escalates further.

And Jersey’s head of government, Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre, said the ‘very good discussion’ with representatives from the protesters had highlighted many issues that could be ‘very easily resolved’.

Earlier this week, French maritime minister Annick Girardin said Paris would cut off electricity to Jersey – which gets 95 per cent of its power supply from France – if the fishing licence dispute was not resolved.

Sailors on Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Severn Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The authorities in Jersey have promised further talks to help resolve the row, but the French government hit out at a ‘British failure’ to abide by the terms of the UK-EU trade deal and warned it would ‘use all the leverage at our disposal’ to protect the fishing industry.

The European Union also accused Jersey of breaching the deal signed by the UK and Brussels.Local fishermen on Jersey had welcomed the deployment of the two ships to monitor the situation.

Josh Dearing, who owns seafood company The Jersey Catch, said: ‘We were so exposed, such a small island, and having those two boats out there, although they kept their distance, must have had some sort of presence to stop anything from getting out of hand.’

HMS Severn returns to Portsmouth Picture: Simon Czapp/Solent News & Photo Agency