Although Hanö is 1,000 miles away from the UK and may only be a small barren island, it holds an important place in Royal Navy and Swedish history

Lieutenant Si Shaw RN, Commanding Officer HMS Explorer

After flying the flag for the UK in Kiel during the city’s annual sailing regatta, Explorer left HMS Express behind for a spot of maintenance and headed towards the Swedish naval base of Karlskrona, nearly 300 miles away.

The route from Kiel to Karlskrona passes close to Hanö, and it is a time-honoured tradition for RN ships to pay their respects.

At the height of the wars with Napoleon, the Baltic was vital to British trade, and between 1810 and 1812 Admiral Saumarez established the base of his fleet on the small island of Hanö, blockading the ports of northern Germany – under French control – and continuing to strike at Napoleon’s forces wherever possible.

Fifteen British sailors are buried in a small cemetery at the north end of the island, and 40 years ago a large wooden cross was erected by their 20th Century brethren in their memory.

Explorer conducted a ceremonial sail past Hanö but sadly was unable to visit the seamen’s graves due to the need to press on to Karlskrona.

"Our rich naval history must be remembered by the current generation – and that includes the URNU,” said Lt Si Shaw, Explorer’s CO. “Although Hanö is 1,000 miles away from the UK and may only be a small barren island, it holds an important place in Royal Navy and Swedish history."

Explorer's programme sees her visit the Karlskrona, Kalmar and Oskarshamn on Sweden's south east coast before a visit to Gotland.

The 12 students on board are using the deployment to complete their task books to secure promotion to midshipmen.

They are split into three watches for duties with a senior midshipman in charge. The job of senior midshipman is roughly similar to first lieutenant on a capital ship, reporting to the executive officer.

"I think there is only one ship in the Royal Navy with a better programme than us – and that's HMS Daring with her round the world trip!” enthuses AB Nick Bolt, Explorer's Navigators Yeoman

“We are fortunate to be visiting several Baltic ports where the White Ensign is not normally flown."

Mid Lilla To added: “We were quite upset to leave Express alongside in Kiel but we had a great programme of visits around the Baltic. And the Boss is keen to spread news of our exploits in exploring the Baltic.”