Friends of the Royal Naval frigate HMS Monmouth did not stop the fact that the ship was in dry dock to have a visit with a difference.
As a result, the affiliate organisations linked to HMS Monmouth were invited to see ‘their’ ship from a unique perspective. The highlight (or ‘lowlight’) of the visit was the dock bottom tour, where the visitors were given the rare chance to walk under the ship as the hull towered above them in its giant ‘garage’.
HMS Monmouth’s affiliates travelled from Monmouth (to which the ship is a ‘twinned’) in South Wales and further afield to see the ship (nicknamed the Black Duke) out of the water in Devonport Dockyard and to hear about the ship’s deployment last year.
Privileged guests included the Welsh Assembly Member for Monmouth, Nick Ramsey; the Lord Lieutenant’s representative Lieutenant General Sir Robert Hayman-Joyce the High Sheriff of Gwent; representatives from Monmouth Town and Monmouthshire County Councils; the Worshipful Company of Drapers; the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) and Sea Cadets.
HMS Monmouth has since left dry dock – today (Tuesday) during six weeks of maintenance following the rigours of a seven-month deployment East of Suez. This has given the crew the chance to ensure the material state of the ship is absolutely sound and that vital repairs can be made before they undertake operational sea training and return to operational tasking.
The visitors had a packed day, where they also discussed HMS Monmouth’s deployment successes, given demonstrations in fire-fighting, learned about machinery operation in the ship’s control centre and experienced a simulated attack by aircraft and anti-ship missiles in the ship’s operations room.
The visit also gave them the opportunity to meet the ship’s company and to renew the strong bonds between the ship and the town after which it was named.
Simon Sauze from the Worshipful Company of Drapers said: “Clearly demonstrated was the very important and often dangerous role they play in our defence, as well as the contribution they make to stability in other, less predictable, regions of the globe.”
Speaking after the visit Nick Ramsey, Welsh Assembly Member for Monmouth, said: “This was a great opportunity to see first-hand the dedication of our Navy to our defences. HMS Monmouth is a great ship, proud to bear our town’s name. The people of Monmouth can be justly proud of the invaluable work being done at sea in our name. Well done HMS Monmouth!”
HMS Monmouth’s commanding officer, Commander Dean Bassett said: “This was an excellent opportunity for us to build on the strong links we have with ‘our’ town and to give our affiliates the chance to view the Ship from an unusual vantage point. Our affiliates have been strong supporters of HMS Monmouth and are very much part of the wider Black Duke family. It was a pleasure to host them onboard.”
The Black Duke will soon be returning to sea to prepare for a gruelling period of operational sea training under Flag Officer Training organisation to prepare for her deployment East of Suez once again, later in the year.