Plymouth-based Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo has visited one of the world’s smallest countries for a gathering of the world’s leading ocean experts.
HMS Echo was invited to Monaco to take part in the fifth International Hydrographic Conference to support the UK Hydrographic Office. The ship gathers data for the Hydrographic Office updating charts used by the majority of the world’s mariners.
The conference was told about the ship’s role, including HMS Echo’s part in the international hunt for the missing Malaysian airliner MH370 in the southeast Indian Ocean.
More than 100 military and civilian delegates from 66 nations, including China, Russia, India and Korea, were invited on board HMS Echo for demonstrations and an official reception.
Receptions and dinners – including two lunches hosted by the UK’s National Hydrographer Rear Admiral Tom Karsten – kept Echo’s small galley team particularly busy s they hosted conference guests.
Despite the busy programme, sailors were able to get off the ship to sample Monaco, which rarely receives visits from Royal Navy vessels. Some visited the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino, where they were treated to a tour organised by retired Royal Navy officer Commander Michael Healy, including rooms usually only seen by the rich and famous.
Other crew members sailors hit the Monaco Grand Prix circuit – not in race cars but on foot as they ran the challenging 3.3-kilometre circuit, enjoying a view of the track they’d previously only seen watching Formula 1 cars on TV.
The ship now resumes her survey work in the Mediterranean for the final few weeks of a 16-month deployment which sees her return to Plymouth in late November.