Sailors swap their frigate for a yacht in the icy cold

Top American admiral visits Portsmouth Naval Base

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SAILORS from HMS Iron Duke had an icy adventure touring the Solent for a week without their frigate.

More than one-third of the Portsmouth-based ship’s crew braved below-zero temperatures in a week of adventure training on board the 38ft yacht Thunderflash.

Similar to deployments in Norway, crews found themselves chipping ice and sweeping snow from the upper deck of the yacht.

Lieutenant Commander Ben Keith, HMS Iron Duke’s executive officer, said ‘I’ve never seen the Solent this quiet – the water was like a mill pond and smoke was rising vertically from the refineries at Fawley.’

The week-long adventure was made possible by a lull in an extensive refit of the frigate which began in March last year.

Thunderflash was provided by the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre in Gosport.

A total of 50 members of the ship’s company made use of Thunderflash, while another 14 headed to Wales for some training on dry land.

‘I had a brilliant time in Wales and particularly had fun on the high ropes course. I was also given an opportunity to try rock climbing, I had never done it before and I really enjoyed it,’ said Able Seaman Kieran Ward.

‘It was really nice to have the chance to get away and do something different.’