The Royal Navy’s newest ship has been commissioned at a ceremony in Devonport Naval Base.
HMS Magpie is the newest addition to the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron, replacing veteran survey ship HMS Gleaner, which paid off earlier this year in Plymouth after 35 years’ service.
Lieutenant Commander William Alexander, HMS Magpie’s first Commanding Officer and Gleaner’s last, said: “We had a fantastic day. The ship’s company and I are extremely proud of HMS Magpie. We carried out the official naming ceremony and then rolled into the commissioning ceremony – two very important milestones in the ship’s generation. This is now the starting point for us to go forward and get up to an operational standard.’”
He added: “It was a great feeling when we brought HMS Magpie into her base-port for the first time last week and we are very much looking forward to joining the operational fleet. The ship’s primary role will be in maintaining the integrity of coastal waters, ensuring safety of navigation and the resilience of key national infrastructure in UK ports. With an enduring presence around the UK, she will also contribute to national security at sea. This is an important milestone in her generation.”
During the commissioning ceremony a personal note that was sent to the ship by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was read out. The Duke commanded the last ship to bear the name HMS Magpie from 1950 until 1952 operating in the Mediterranean. He said: “Having had the honour of commanding the anti-submarine frigate HMS Magpie, based in Malta soon after the war, I am delighted to know that the name ‘Magpie’ has been revived for a new Royal Navy survey ship. I am delighted to have this opportunity to offer my best wishes to the new ship’s company for a happy and rewarding commission.”
The ship’s company marched onto the ceremonial parade to the strains of Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band of Plymouth playing the traditional Royal Navy tune of Hearts of Oak. Following the ceremony, a commissioning cake was cut by Able Seaman (Hydrographic and Meteorological) Ryan Payne, who is the youngest sailor on board, along with Mrs Teresa Gardner who is the wife of Rear Admiral Chris Gardner, Assistant Chief Naval Staff (Ships).
HMS Magpie is an 18-metre catamaran and will soon begin providing an essential survey and underwater survey capability. She is the first vessel to be delivered under a contract negotiated by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) with Atlas Elektronik (AEUK) UK Ltd.
Russell Brown, Head of DE&S Ship’s Support Team, which delivered HMS Magpie, said: “The commissioning ceremony was a proud moment for the DE&S personnel who have worked hard to deliver HMS Magpie to the Royal Navy. I look forward to my commercially-supported shipping team with Atlas Elektronik to deliver the rest of the new work boat fleet which will support essential operations in the defence of the UK.”
Dr Antoni Mazur, Managing Director of AEUK, said: “This is a very proud moment for AEUK and the team that have been behind the development of this highly capable vessel. Being trusted to deliver a warship to the Royal Navy is a great honour and we hope that HMS Magpie will serve her crew well.”
HMS Magpie is the only ship of her type in the Royal Navy and is highly capable. She has on board the latest high-resolution, shallow-water multi-beam echo sounder and side-scan sonar and has the ability to launch remote-controlled underwater devices to search wide areas of the sea bed for obstructions and mines.