HMS Mersey continues her Caribbean deployment

HMS Mersey has sailed from Florida after completing her final preparations to start Counter Drug Operations in the Caribbean and Central America.

The ship arrived in Key West after battling yet another storm to blue skies and bright sunshine and a warm American welcome.

Key West is the southernmost tip of the USA and fondly known to locals as the Conch Republic, after it’s local delicacy of seafood fritters. 

The chain of Archipelagic islands that make up the Florida Keys are closer to Havana than they are to Miami and over the years have been a home to Cuban exiles as well as being a hideaway for Ernest Hemingway.  

Despite tropical downpours ship’s tours were eagerly requested and the evening was completed with Ceremonial Sunset on the Cargo Deck.

The tiny town has also never experienced a frost, a fact which has been gleefully recited to loved ones back in the chilly UK.

Key West is also home to Joint Inter Agency Task Force South (JIATF-S), the multinational effort to combat narcotics smuggling in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific and the primary reason for Mersey’s visit. 

Intelligence and operational briefs to the Command Team, as well as secure communications fittings have been the final check offs for Mersey to be mission ready to support JIATF-S in combating the flow of illicit drugs in her new area of operations. 

With briefings complete, the Ship hosted the Director of JIATF-S, RADM Tomney USN and his Deputy, RDML Pringle USCG for a very British brunch, with Leading Chef “Betsy” Lynch receiving plaudits for his sophisticated fry up.

Senior Officers from JIATF-S and their support agencies were invited onboard for a Reception and Capability Demonstration, giving the Ship’s Company the opportunity to show what Mersey can do.

Despite tropical downpours ship’s tours were eagerly requested and the evening was completed with Ceremonial Sunset on the Cargo Deck.

After a busy visit, Mersey is now headed for Mexico where she will reinforce the Royal Navy’s links with the Mexican Navy and conduct a training exercise at sea.