Penzance’s crew raise the standard as the Navy’s top minehunter crew

A standard bearing the hippocampus – the mythical seahorse which is the symbol of the Surface Fleet – flies from the mast of HMS Penzance in the Gulf.

That’s because the 40 or so men and women who crew the Sandown-class ship are the best in the business.

1st MCM Squadron’s Crew 4 were singled out as the best of the 15 crews behind the RN’s entire mine warfare force, plus the half dozen diving groups/squadrons, winning the Jim Action Mine Warfare Efficiency Trophy.

The award is presented in honour of a lieutenant commander killed by an earthquake in Turkey in 1999 as he helped plan a major mine warfare exercise.

Crew 4 won it – and the right to fly the Fleet Effectiveness flag – chiefly for their efforts aboard HMS Pembroke (minehunter crews rotate around their squadrons depending on their mission).

It was an honour to accept the award on behalf of the crew – and it is nice to know that our hard work over the past year has been recognised.

ET(CIS) Paddy Foakes

Pembroke took part in a NATO deployment to the Baltic, two busy Joint Warrior exercises off Scotland and then a successful period of Operational Sea Training (earning a ‘very satisfactory’ score, where most crews was with a ‘satisfactory’) before swapping Faslane for Bahrain, where Penzance is deployed with the Royal Navy’s four-strong minehunter force permanently stationed in the Gulf.

Capt Nick Washer, the RN’s deputy commander east of Suez, presented the trophy to ET(CIS) Paddy Foakes.

“It was an honour to accept the award on behalf of the crew – and it is nice to know that our hard work over the past year has been recognised,” he said.

His Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Will Paston added: “This award is as a result of the whole crew’s efforts as a team through a busy year, they should be deservedly proud of this achievement that would not have been possible without their dedication and the support that is provided by their families at home.”

During his visit to Penzance, Capt Washer presented three ‘sailor of the month’ awards for January, February and March to Std Tony Biggar, AB(D) Ahmet Demirezon, and ET(ME) John Stafford respectively.