Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset has scooped an award as the fleet’s top frigate in a ceremony in Plymouth.
The warship was recognised for helping seize the largest haul of illegal drugs in the UK when she worked with the National Crime Agency and UK Border Agency to track down, search and detain a boat and personnel on board off Scotland. The issue is subject to an ongoing trial in Scotland on alleged drugs smuggling.
The ceremony was conducted on board the ship in Devonport Naval Base in recognition of achievements over the last 12 months also including conducting vital security patrols and tasks around the UK and into the Mediterranean.
Rear Admiral Alexander Burton who is responsible for delivering the Royal Navy’s surface fleet’s capability presented two trophies – one for the most effective frigate and a second for best anti-submarine ship.
Speaking at the ceremony he said: “It gives me great pleasure to present these awards to HMS Somerset’s ship’s company who, over the last 12 months, have been called upon to do a wide variety of tasks and who have delivered with professionalism and style on each occasion.”
Looking back on the ship’s achievements he added: “In April they demonstrated the strengths of the Royal Navy, when they received a tip off and immediately slipped away from an exercise to hunt down and intercept a ship carrying cocaine with an estimated value of over £500 million of cocaine, the biggest ever seized by the UK. It is right to recognise achievements that may otherwise go unseen.”
Over the last twelve months HMS Somerset has taken part in the biggest multinational exercise in the UK in decades, saved a diver lost at sea, proven new battle winning ammunition during a three-day firing of the ship’s main gun at Cape Wrath in Scotland, trained the next generation of navigators and warfare officers from many nations whilst still finding time to support families and charities.
HMS Somerset’s busy year culminated with a short deployment to the Mediterranean where, at the request of the Maltese government, she provided vital protection to not only an EU Leader’s conference which was called at short notice, but also the Commonwealth Head of Governments Conference, which was attended by the Queen and Prince Charles.
HMS Somerset’s captain Commander Michael Wood addressed the crew at the presentation and said: “HMS Somerset’s team have worked tirelessly to deliver a fighting ship that is efficient, effective and happy. Much of what we do is done alone, on the high seas far away from land and I am immensely proud that the dedication, sacrifice and hard work of my ship’s company that I see every day has been recognised throughout the Royal Navy.”
After a week of maintenance, the ship, affiliated to Somerset County and the Royal Navy’s ‘best frigate’ is getting ready to sail again to train the Royal Navy’s next generation of warfare officer, before starting UK patrols and ready to respond to any call for help or to thwart any threat to our nation.