HMS Echo home from epic 22-month mission

Back in the bosom of her home port today after 22 months gathering data on waters from the Channel to the eastern shores of the Black Sea is HMS Echo.

It is 668 days since the survey vessel last caught sight of Smeaton’s Tower thanks to an extremely varied – and rewarding – mission which began in the central Mediterranean and ended at the gateway to the Middle Sea.

 

Echo’s 668-day tour of duty began supporting the international effort to prevent illegal migrant trafficking in the central Med, joined NATO’s efforts to clamp down on terrorist activity in the same region (Operation Sea Guardian) and used her impressive array of sensors to gather key military data to support naval operations.

 

She was the first foreign warship to visit Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s illegal seizure of her naval vessels and personnel last November.

 

Reassurance and freedom of navigation activity in the Black Sea also included visits to allies in Romania and Georgia as well as military data gathering operations off the Crimean peninsula.

I am immensely proud of everything that my personnel have achieved during this deployment.

Commander Matthew Warren, Echo’s Commanding Officer

The ship’s company, who have swapped around every few weeks to sustain Echo on her lengthy deployment, have taken the opportunity to pay tribute to the UK’s fallen in distant locations, visiting Commonwealth War Graves in Odessa and Batumi, Georgia, and joined Ukrainians at their liberation day celebrations in May.

 

All of which added 58,000 miles to the Echo ‘odometer’. She visited one port for every 1,000 miles sailed… spread across 15 countries. And the rotation system used by crew has meant that her sailors have generally spent nine in every 12 months at sea.

 

The final month of her deployment was spent around Gibraltar, surveying territorial waters, taking tidal readings and giving sailors the chance to look behind the scenes on the Rock, notably the impressive cave and tunnel network.

 

“Our team of around 80 sailors have consistently demonstrated their professionalism and flexibility in fulfilling a diverse range of challenging tasking. As we return home it is also a fitting time to recognise the essential role our families play, particularly spouses and partners who work so hard to make family life work through long periods of separation.”