HMS Montrose arrives in Singapore

HMS Montrose has arrived in Singapore where it’s a balmy 31°C, there’s a tropical shower pretty much every afternoon, and there’s still a permanent RN presence despite the ‘withdrawal from east of Suez’ half a century ago.

Naval Party  1022 (also known as  British Defence Singapore Support Unit) maintains a permanent presence at Sembawang (the old RN Naval Base/HMS Terror), making sure fuel and other support is available to visiting British and Commonwealth warships – chiefly those of Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand (who with Britain and Singapore are committed to the Five Powers Defence Agreement to safeguard the Far East against aggression).

Over the past 12 months, the party has been particular busy supporting RN vessels: HMS Sutherland, Albion, Argyll and now Montrose as the UK re-focuses its efforts with the Asia-Pacific taking on renewed importance.

HMS Montrose is on a three-year deployment

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For Montrose, Singapore is the venue for her mid-deployment break – a chance to give sailors and their ship a break after a 20,000-mile odyssey from Plymouth via the Atlantic, Caribbean, Panama Canal, Chile, Easter and Pitcairn Islands, Auckland, Darwin, and the Java Sea to the Jahore Strait and Sembawang Wharves.

The ten-day break began with offloading all the rubbish (gash) accumulated by the 200 men and women on board (global pollution regulations wisely mean it cannot be cast into the ocean) and loading of stores, before Commanding Officer Conor O'Neill hosted British Deputy High Commissioner Alexandra McKenzie.

The mid-deployment break is allowing some families the chance to link up with loved-ones again, and for other members of the ship’s company to explore Singapore and the Malay Peninsula.

Montrose is on a three-year deployment, the bulk of which will be concentrated in the Gulf. Before she gets there, however, there’s a visit to Japan for combined training with the Japanese Navy to conduct.