Royal Navy's two newest warships HMS Spey and HMS Tamar depart Portsmouth on five-year Oriental odyssey
TWO of the Royal Navy’s newest warships have set sail from Portsmouth to begin their landmark five-year mission in the Indo-Pacific.
HMS Spey and sister ship HMS Tamar were escorted out of Portsmouth Naval Base by the navy’s coastal forces squadron.
The pair of patrol ships have been tasked with an epic odyssey, which will see them operating off the eastern shores of Africa and west coast of America until 2026.
Spey and Tamar will arrive in the Pacific on the back of the maiden deployment by HMS Queen Elizabeth and her strike group which have spent several months working alongside the UK’s allies and partners in the region.
A spokesman from the Royal Navy said: ‘They will act as the eyes and ears of the navy – and nation – in the region, working alongside Britain’s allies, carrying out security patrols to deal with drug-running, smuggling, terrorism and other illegal activities, joining in exercises with other navies and armed forces, and flying the flag for global Britain.’
No permanent home has been assigned to the pair – instead they will make use of bases and ports in the Pacific region which best meets their needs and mission.
Their vast patrol area embraces both the Indian and Pacific oceans, extending as far north as the Bering Sea and south to the foot of Tasmania and New Zealand.
They are sailing across the Atlantic and into the Pacific from where their patrols of their new ‘home’ will begin in earnest.
‘Two-thirds of the world is our playground,’ said Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, HMS Spey’s Commanding Officer. ‘We are going to places that the Royal Navy has not visited in a long time – that’s really exciting.’
Lieutenant Thomas Adlam Royal Navy, HMS Tamar’s 1st Lieutenant, added: ‘The deployment will offer an array of challenges but also a number of opportunities for many of us to see new parts of the world. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this crew.’
The crews will be joined by extra personnel – up to 52 Royal Marines or troops in a dedicated mess – or mission-specific equipment to deliver humanitarian aid or help with evacuations, depending on their mission, a versatility which makes the vessels ‘2,000-tonne Swiss Army knives’.
Each ship is crewed by 46 sailors, with half the crew trading places with shipmates from the UK every few weeks.
With a large portion of naval deployments having had a Gulf focus, sailors said the new arrangement was exciting.
Leading Weapons Engineer Alex Twidell said: ‘The opportunity to go to the Indo-Asia Pacific offers an exciting opportunity that very few in the newest generation of Royal Navy sailors have had the chance to partake in. It will be an amazing experience.’
The hulls of both Tamar and Spey have received retro World War-era ‘dazzle paint’ – making them distinct from most other warships around the globe.
The sister ships are the last of five in the River class, which will deploy for several years at a time in key strategic regions of the globe.
HMS Forth patrols around the Falklands and South Atlantic, HMS Medway is part of the UK naval task group in the Caribbean and HMS Trent conducts security patrols of the Mediterranean and off West Africa.