The Plymouth-based warship HMS Montrose has visited one of the more remote British territorial outposts in the South Atlantic.
As part of the ship’s continuing patrol the Type 23 frigate loaned her reassuring presence to the four islands which make up the British Territory of Tristan de Cunha.
HMS Montrose commanding officer, Commander Jonathan Lett, said: “This has been another unique opportunity for Montrose and her ship’s company: “Just as with our visits to Ascension, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands earlier in the deployment, it has been a real privilege to visit one of the most isolated British South Atlantic Overseas Territories as part of our mission in the region.”
Found 230 nautical miles south-east of the island Tristan, one of the islands, Gough Island, has special naval connections. It is named after Captain Charles Gough, who carried out a similar patrol here for the Royal Navy in 1731. He was in command of HMS Richmond, an ancestor of the modern-day Type 23 Duke Class frigate of the same name that is a sister ship to HMS Montrose.
Although it has no native population Gough Island is home to eight people: two members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) who are engaged in conservation, and six members of the South African Weather Service who forecast the fronts which are pushed onto the Western African Cape by the strong winds of the Roaring Forties.
The lack of human life on the island is compensated by the vast quantities of sea birds. The RSPB describe Gough as the most important sea bird island in the world, which is why it is designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.
It features a vast number of colonies of rare birds including almost the entire world population of Tristan Albatross and Atlantic Petrel. These were highly visible when Montrose launched her Lynx helicopter to conduct an airborne reconnaissance and fisheries patrol of the island’s waters.
HMS Montrose left Devonport Naval Base in October 2011 to carry out an Atlantic patrol task. At the beginning of 2011 the ship returned from a successful counter-piracy patrol in the Indian Ocean, patrolling sea routes in the Somali Basin and off the Horn of Africa. The 4,000-tonne ship has a crew of around 190 and is 133 metres long.