Life’s no beach for the Navy in the Caribbean

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HMS Manchester returned to Portsmouth last month after spending her last day at sea.

The Type 42 destroyer was decommissioned after ending her 30-year career with a families day in the Solent.

But it’s not the last we’ll see of commanding officer, Rex Cox, and his crew.

Though their naval careers continue aboard other vessels, their adventures aboard Manchester can still be followed on Channel 5.

When Commander Cox joined the ship just over a year ago and took her on a successful final deployment catching drug runners and delivering disaster relief in the Caribbean, it was filmed for Royal Navy Caribbean Patrol.

The documentary series airs every Monday at 9pm and is repeated in the early hours of Sunday and again at 8pm on Sunday evening.

If you’ve caught any of the series so far, you’ll realise that – though life on the ocean wave, complete with whiter-than-white uniform and a nice hat, may sound like a lovely idea – being in the Royal Navy isn’t exactly romantic. In fact, it’s very hard work indeed.

So, despite being deployed in the Caribbean, members of the crew of HMS Manchester are not enjoying themselves. Instead, they’re searching for some of the world’s most ruthless and determined drug traffickers.

On paper their job sounds relatively straightforward, particularly when you consider that it’s estimated at least 20 tons of cocaine passes through the area at any given time, but the traffickers are a cunning bunch.

Thankfully, Cdr Cox and his crew had all manner of hi-tech devices at their disposal, and they put them to good use in last week’s episode as they hunted down a suspicious fishing vessel spotted by an American surveillance aircraft.

On Monday this week the dreaded hurricane season hit the area and the shipmates were put on urgent storm alert. On top of their smuggler-hunting duties, they were on the lookout for islanders hit by storm damage. The HMS Manchester visited as many of the islands as possible to reassure the people that help will be at hand in case of disaster. You can see a repeat of this episode tomorrow night at 8pm.

By next Monday’s series closer hurricane season is in full swing and the crew are in Barbados.

News arrives that an horrendous hurricane has hit St Lucia, 100 miles away. So, the ship’s company is immediately recalled from the pubs, clubs and bars and the British vessel leaves on a mercy mission to the stricken island. Within hours, she is first on the scene of terrible devastation.

Catch-up with the action on Demand 5, where the whole series can be viewed again.