The rare sight of HMS Severn and Tyne sailing in company graced the waters off Scotland’s west coast as the two vessels prepared for very different missions.
Tyne is safeguarding the nation’s fishing stocks by keeping a watchful eye on trawlers, but Severn is about to cross the Atlantic for the first time for a patrol of British territories in the Caribbean.
Pictures: CPO(Phot) Tam McDonald, FRPU North
RED sky at night, shepherd’s delight.
Red sky in the morning, two fishery protection ships leaving Faslane in company...
HMS Tyne (P281) leads her younger sister HMS Severn (P282) into the Clyde estuary for some rare combined training involving ships which typically exercise and operate independently.
As well as being the home to the nation’s strategic deterrent – four Vanguard-class submarines – Astute-class submarines and Sandown-class minehunters, Faslane is also the home of the northern ‘branch’ of the RN’s premier training organisation, FOST.
Ships of frigate size and above are prepared for deployments by teams from FOST’s HQ in Devonport, making use of the exercise areas off Plymouth.
And all smaller vessels are put through their paces by FOST North around the Scottish west coast.
In Severn’s case she’s about to break the bonds which keep her working around the UK ensuring the nation’s fishing stocks are preserved and, for the first time, head for the Caribbean for an Atlantic Patrol North mission over the winter, taking over from HMS Argyll.
Argyll has proved indispensable in two drug busts – bagging over £30m of illegal narcotics – and helping clearing up to clear up in the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo in Bermuda.
The offshore patrol vessel will be expected to pick up where Argyll left off: on stand-by for disaster relief operations and any other duties in support of the region’s British Overseas Territories, as well as embarking a law enforcement detachment from the US Coastguard in the ongoing fight against drug smuggling in the region.
The initial ten days of training in Scotland assessed Severn’s ability to deal with internal problems – fires, flooding, breakdowns – and external ones, such as coming under attack.
The second phase of training is more ‘free play’ and specially focused on the mission the ship is expected to carry out, such as putting a reconnaissance team ashore to scout and report the devastating effects of a hurricane; Severn can produce ten tonnes of fresh water a day and carry six ISO containers of aid and equipment.
“Whilst we do not have the range of capabilities and manpower of HMS Argyll, we are trained and fully capable of putting specialist Royal Navy personnel ashore to assess damage, identify priorities and recommend where disaster relief resources are best apportioned’ said Lt Ben Read, HMS Severn’s Navigating Officer.
Severn’s Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Steve Banfield added: “The forthcoming deployment is a new challenge for HMS Severn – although not for the Royal Navy.
“Whilst Severn normally operates in UK waters, our focus is now on preparing the ship and our personnel for Atlantic Patrol North. I’m confident that our training has prepared us well for all contingencies and tasking that may be required of us.”
Severn is due to leave her native Portsmouth later this autumn. Between now and then she’ll be visiting London in support of annual remembrance events in the capital.