HMS Portland has called into the Portuguese capital – the first stop of her Atlantic deployment.
The Devonport based frigate visited Lisbon for briefings on the role the ship will undertake to counter the illegal drugs trade off the West African coast. During the visit the Commanding Officer participated in a traditional ceremony to celebrate the United Kingdom’s enduring friendship with Portugal, the ship also hosted a visit by senior NATO officers, and the football team enjoyed a match against the Lisbon Crusaders.
Lisbon is home to the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics), which is an international organisation of European nations, including the UK, responsible for tackling drug trafficking. Experts from the centre briefed the ship’s command team on her forthcoming counter narcotics mission.
Celebrating the United Kingdom’s lengthy relationship with Portugal, (The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty was signed in 1373), the Commanding Officer, Commander Sarah West followed the tradition of nailing a brass plaque bearing the ship’s name onto a barrel of rum.
Following this, a delegation from the NATO Naval Striking and Support Forces, (STRIKEFORNATO), led by the Deputy Commander of STRIKEFORNATO, Rear Admiral Tim Lowe visited Portland for a briefing on the ship’s capability.
As part of the visit the group toured HMS Portland and also enjoyed a traditional English meal of fish and chips.
Rear Admiral Lowe said: “HMS Portland is an extremely capable warship and I wish her well on her forthcoming deployment.”
The ship’s football team enjoyed a 5-2 victory over local side Lisbon Crusaders. Man of the match was HMS Portland’s Able Seaman John Maher, 24, from Liverpool.
AB Maher said: “This was a difficult match against a team who played a fast paced, passing style of football. We were pleased with the result and are looking forward to many more games throughout the deployment.”
On sailing from Lisbon, the ship conducted an exercise with the Portuguese ship NRP Corte-Real.
As part of this exercise HMS Portland hosted Portuguese sailors, whilst a number of Portland’s sailors were able to experience an afternoon at sea on the NRP Corte-Real.
Able Seaman Ross Clarke, 21, from Glasgow, said: “Lisbon was my first foreign visit with the Royal Navy and I enjoyed the opportunity to explore the historic city. I was also fortunate to spend an afternoon at sea onboard the Corte-Real and experience the similarities between how the Royal and Portuguese Navies operate.”