HMS Forth shown home alone by drone

Stunning drone footage has captured the Falklands new patrol ship HMS Forth in her long-term home as you’ve never seen her before.

Leading Photographer Kyle Heller was at the controls of the RPAS – remotely-piloted aerial system as the military official terms drones – as it lifted off from the jetty at East Cove Military Port… no mean feat as the remote harbour is renowned for its strong winds.

Forth is alongside undergoing a spot of maintenance after her 9,000-mile journey from Portsmouth over the winter/austral summer once south of the Equator, with the ship’s company and the RN’s small team of engineers based at East Cove (known as NEFI or Naval Engineering Falkland Islands) carrying out the work.

It’s a challenging place to carry out maintenance. It’s bleak. Facilities are limited (there’s no dry dock for example). It’s rarely warm, even in high summer.

But the small base (51° 54’02”S, 58° 26’54”W if you want to find it on satellite imaging sites) is the mainstay of all Royal Navy operations in support of the UK’s South Atlantic territories – most recently used by survey ship HMS Scott as well as Forth herself – with the hub of Britain’s military presence a ten-minute drive away in Mount Pleasant.

In the past week Forth has been joined at East Cove by the scientific research/supply vessel RRS James Clark Ross – distinctly painted red and white – which is supporting the work of the British Antarctic Survey in and around the frozen continent.

Forth is the first of five second-generation River-class patrol ships to begin extended missions in regions around the globe under the RN’s broadening Forward Presence vision. All will be sustained by rotating crews every few months (à la minehunters in the Gulf for the past dozen years and, more recently, frigate HMS Montrose).

Forth has taken over from HMS Clyde which returned to Portsmouth just before Christmas and is awaiting disposal. Her successor is due to resume her Falkland duties at the end of the month, safeguarding territorial waters, reassuring islanders living in some of the more remote communities peppered around the archipelago, and also striking further afield to the wildlife paradise of South Georgia.