HMS Montrose's crew completes Gulf mission

A four-month stint protecting shipping and tackling terrorism came to an end for the men and women crewing HMS Montrose.

HMS Clyde may have been the last ship home for Christmas – but the last sailors returned to the UK over the weekend.

The frigate is stationed long-term in the Gulf in a bid to spare ships the arduous passage to and from the UK – allowing more time on front-line operations in the region.

Every four months the 200 sailors and Royal Marines on board trade places with a UK-based crew; the third and final exchange of Montrose crews for the year took place just before Christmas.

Whichever crew has been assigned to the frigate, they have been at the forefront of protecting shipping passing in and out of the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz since July.

The Port crew, who took charge of the 4,500-tonne warship at the end of August, escorted three dozen British merchant ships through the Strait of Hormuz during 24 transits of the narrow waters.

In addition, she acted as a guardian for global shipping protected by the new seven-nation International Maritime Security Construct and the security mission it directs from Bahrain, Operation Sentinel.

All merchant vessels under Montrose’s watch passed through the Strait safely.

That success aside, the biggest single triumph of the deployment was a £42m seizure of crystal meth and heroin in co-operation with the French destroyer FS Jean Bart in October.

The ship’s company also took part in a major UK-US medical exercise testing the abilities of the two allies to deal with multiple casualties at sea – and evacuate those needing the most care and support to civilian hospitals ashore, in this case in Bahrain.

We are now looking forward to spending Christmas with our families, regenerating in the New Year and returning to the area of operations in 2020.

Commander Ollie Hucker

Despite the busy operational tempo the crew have continued many everyday activities such as fitness workouts; Montrose’s police officer Petty Officer Michelle Garrett completing a marathon around the upper-deck, as part of her challenge to walk a million steps for cancer charity Macmillan.

“I am extremely proud of all that Montrose’s Port crew have conducted during their operational period. From accompanying Red Ensign shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, contributing to the International Maritime Security Construct and seizing 170kg of crystal meth and Cocaine; the crew have consistently and continually delivered,” said Commander Ollie Hucker, Commanding Officer of the Port crew.

Before the crew flew home they hosted Britain’s most senior sailor, First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin, who thanked the men and women for their hard work throughout the autumn.

They are now enjoying Christmas at home and a period of leave before beginning the training needed to prepare them for a return to the Gulf in the spring, while their successors are renewing their acquaintance with the ship and conditions in the Middle East before undergoing an assessment to determine they are ready for the challenge of operations to come.