The Prince of Wales shared the ‘nation’s pride’ with the crew of a Plymouth-based warship when he thanked them for their mercy mission in the Mediterranean.
The heir to the throne dropped in on the survey ship in Athens’ port of Piraeus as HMS Echo took a break from Operation Sophia – the international naval effort to stop people-trafficking from North Africa to Europe.
The crew told him about the ship and her crew’s efforts since she was assigned to the mission in 2015.
Two and a half years later and the ship’s sailors have saved more than 8,000 lives, destroyed 66 boats used for trafficking and assisted in the arrest of 15 people involved in the illegal smuggling operation.
The Prince told HMS Echo’s captain, Commander Andrew Norgate and his ship’s company, gathered on the quarterdeck, of ‘his and his nation’s pride’ in their life-saving operation.
Navigating Officer Lieutenant Will Mills said: “The efforts of HMS Echo’s ship’s company cannot be understated and this visit from His Royal Highness was a very well received reward following months of hard work on deployment.”
As well as her rescue and counter-trafficking duties in the central Mediterranean, more recently the ship has resumed her traditional role of providing an accurate picture of the seabed by surveying the waters around Malta at the request of the Commonwealth nation’s government.
The survey results were outlined to Prince Charles by Commander Norgate with impressive colourful 3-D scans produced by the ship’s suite of hydrographic and sonar equipment.
The royal visitor also presented awards to two crew members. Petty Officer Garry Warnes from Plymouth, and Warrant Officer Bryan Doody from Dunfermline were given clasps to add to their Long Service and Good Conduct Medals recognising 67 combined years’ service the pair have given the Royal Navy so far.