Not any old lion – Navy welcomes HMS Tamar into its family

The Royal Navy today welcomed HMS Tamar into the bosom Fleet, as for the fourth new River Class patrol ship was commissioned in Portsmouth.

Twelve months to the day that ten sailors mustered in a dry dock in Glasgow and began Tamar’s transformation from lifeless hull to warship, the 2,000-tonne vessel joined the Naval family as a fully-fledged member of the Overseas Patrol Squadron.

Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd witnessed the short ceremony in Portsmouth with Tamar’s Sponsor, Lady Brigitte Peach, as Guest of Honour.

She addressed the 45-strong ship’s company alongside their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson.

Tamar is the fourth of five Batch 2 River Class OPVs to join the Fleet, having arrived in Portsmouth from BAE Systems’ shipyards on the Clyde at the end of March.

“Today’s commissioning ceremony is the culmination of a huge amount of work by a crew which has worked tirelessly throughout the Covid pandemic and all those who have supported us here in Portsmouth and beyond, and it is my privilege to be Tamar’s first Commanding Officer.

We’ve transformed Tamar and her ship’s company into an effective force since moving on board earlier in the year and we’re eager to take her into active operations wherever we are sent

Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson

“We’ve transformed Tamar and her ship’s company into an effective force since moving on board earlier in the year and we’re eager to take her into active operations wherever we are sent.”

Lady Peach told the assembled sailors: “From the moment you, the ship’s company, came on board she has impressed everyone who has seen her. I have been hugely impressed by the hard-working and incredibly welcoming crew. As you take your place in the Fleet, I wish you well.”

She was accompanied by her husband, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee and most senior officer within the alliance, having previously served as the UK’s Chief of Defence Staff. Representatives from Devon, Cornwall and Truro, Tamar’s affiliated city, were also invited.

The commissioning cake was provided by the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity and, in true naval tradition, was cut by the captain’s wife Gillian and Tamar’s youngest sailor, Engineering Technician Niall Tinnion, who joined the marine engineering department in May.

ET Tinnion, 19 and from Newcastle, said: “I’m the youngest on board, hence why I cut the cake so quite a privilege. It’s my first ship, life on board is hard but good fun.”

Since Tamar’s ship’s company took custody of her they have completed Operational Sea Training, hosted visitors and new technology demonstrations on a visit to London, hoisted their White Ensign during one of several visits to Devonport at the mouth of the River Tamar, and worked extensively with Royal Marines on boarding tactics.

As with her sisters, Tamar has a mess deck for 50 embarked marines or other personnel, in addition to accommodating about 50 crew on board at any time. The total ship’s company stands at around 75, allowing personnel to rotate for leave or training courses and the ship to maintain about 300 days at sea annually.

Still come is ship No.5, HMS Spey, which was delivered to Portsmouth at the end of October and is making strides to joining the operational fleet in 2021.