Royal Marines on HMS Monmouth are cycling around the clock on the ship at sea to help colleagues.
The commandos – who support sailors in providing the Plymouth frigate’s boarding team on patrol in the Gulf – intend to clock up 4,825 miles.
This is the distance from their base in Scotland at 43 Commando Royal Marines Fleet Protection Group in Faslane to Dubai – a regular port of call for Royal Navy warships in the region.
The nine-strong team is doing so on one bike, mounted on a turbo trainer on the bridge wing of the frigate during one of its routine patrols of the area.
Captain Will Hall, in charge of the Royal Marine boarding team on Monmouth said: “The good progress has taken its toll –the team is now struggling to move up and down the ladders on ship and sitting down has never been more painful. Several iPods have fallen victim to excessive amounts of sweat making the long night shifts that bit more painful. We’re beyond halfway in terms of distance but with a deteriorating sea state, Dubai is still a long way away.”
Since the challenge began, there’s been one Royal Marine continuously cycling on the bike, 24 hours a day. Each commando is expected to cover at least 500 miles (roughly the distance from Plymouth to Faslane) – and all while the Marines are still fulfilling their full boarding duties and other responsibilities on board.
Temperatures by day in the Gulf are already touching 30˚C and the Marines face the added challenge of cycling into 30-knot winds at time when the ship powers through the sea.
They have already passed half-way to their goal and raised over £1,500 for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, the Royal Marines’ over-arching charity; the trust supports the recovery, quality of life and through-life challenges of all Royal Marines and their families.
The team have now passed through the 750 mile mark and will be hypothetically passing Paris.
To help reach their ambitious target, they are relying on not just the Ship’s Company, but on sponsorship and support through friends, family and those back in the UK. To donate, please visit www.justgiving.com/faslane-to-dubai
When not urging on Royal Marines on bicycles, the Black Duke has been hosting senior RAF staff who are key to the Naval and UK’s mission east of Suez.
Air Commodore Phil Beach who is United Kingdom Air Component Commander – the Air Force equivalent of the Royal Navy’s senior command in the Middle East – joined the ship at Doha. Sailing with the ship as it departed Qatar, his visit was to witness life onboard while on maritime security patrol.
The visit provided an excellent opportunity for the ship, nicknamed the ‘Black Duke’, to showcase how the crew has provided assurance, assistance and deterrence whilst patrolling the busy sea lanes of the region. Air Commodore Beach met crew member and gained an appreciation of how the Royal Navy and RAF can support each others’ missions in the Gulf. He watched a boarding demonstration by the Royal Marines, before disembarking in the ship’s Somerset-based Lynx helicopter.
Lieutenant Chris Hollingworth, one of the ship’s principal warfare officers said: “This visit was a great opportunity to show how Monmouth and the Royal Navy can contribute to air operations in the region, and will hopefully enable us to build closer links with our RAF counterparts during the remainder of our deployment.”