24 is the new 22 as Mersey tests her improved sea boats

Boat crews from HMS Mersey are buzzing around fishing vessels faster, more comfortable and for longer thanks to upgraded sea boats.

After more than a decade using the trusty Pacific 22 on operations in home waters, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, the Portsmouth-based patrol ship has swapped the old 22ft RIBs for the Pacific 24 (which are actually 25½ft long).

With greater endurance, the 24s carry more sailors (and marines if necessary) on better seating at higher speeds and, given the relatively small crew aboard Mersey and the nature of her fishery protection duties, all the ship's company got acquainted with the replacement boats when delivered to the ship.

Under the guidance of First Lieutenant Lt Dan Sykes-Gelder and bosun LS 'Geoff' Hurst, the crew were put through a week of intensive training before they were satisfied the boarding parties were ready for the rigours of fishery protection.

Sea boat operations are our bread and butter and these faster, stronger, more agile boats allow us to conduct our marine enforcement task more effectively

"Sea boat operations are our bread and butter and these faster, stronger, more agile boats allow us to conduct our marine enforcement task more effectively," said Mersey's XO Lt Martyn Mayger.

"The two Pac24s mark a significant increase in Mersey's capability, but the boats have their work cut out for them - we are a busy ship."

LS Hurst added: "On paper, the new Pac24s are a fantastic bit of kit, the department as a whole has been eager to get to grips with them and see what they can really do."

On marine enforcement operations - 21st Century terminology for fishery protection - the boats are expected to put a boarding team on to a trawler to conduct inspections of hauls using the sea boat by day or night, rough or calm, winter or summer.