Plymouth-based Royal Naval warship HMS Argyll has visited Cuba to enhance relationships between the Cuban military and the UK MOD.
The ships crew received a spectacular welcome in Havana with a ceremonial 21-gun salute while sailors lined the side of the ship standing to attention. 2,000 enthusiastic people greeted the ship and were rewarded with an invitation to tour the Type 23 frigate.
Crew from the Devonport Naval Base ship staged a meeting discuss how Cuba and the UK can work together in counter-narcotics operations and to combat the Ebola crisis.
The ship also hosted dignitaries for an evening reception. Captain of HMS Argyll, Commander Paul Hammond, told his guests: “It is a rare but fantastic opportunity for me and my ship’s company to be here in Cuba. Cuban medical personnel are working alongside the UK effort to combat Ebola in Africa.’’
He added: ”I am delighted to be here to further our co-operation in areas such as counter-narcotics and disaster relief.”
The ship’s officers attended a dinner hosted by their counterparts in the Cuban military. HMS Argyll’s crew also took on a local rugby team when they were soundly beaten by the home team.
This visit was the last port of call of HMS Argyll’s extremely successful six-month deployment to the Caribbean and North Atlantic. She assisted in hurricane relief and seized a whopping 1,600 kg of cocaine with a value of more than £68 million. Once she returns to her home-port in Plymouth later this month she will swap duties with HMS Severn.
HMS Argyll deployed to the Caribbean region to provide reassurance and, if required, humanitarian aid and disaster relief support to the UK’s British Overseas Territories and other islands during the hurricane season. HMS Argyll also conducted counter narcotics patrols to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.