HMS Medway makes a pit-stop at Gibraltar

New patrol ship HMS Medway paid her first visit to the Rock – and potentially her last for many years – with a whistle-stop weekend stay before striking out into the Atlantic to begin her long-term mission.

The second of the UK’s five new River-class patrol vessels left Portsmouth at the beginning of last week to take up permanent station in the Caribbean as part of the Navy’s new ‘forward presence’ initiative – basing ships long-term around the globe and rotating crews every few weeks, rather than bringing the vessels back to the UK every six or so months.

In Medway’s case, the mission is Atlantic Patrol Ship (North), a task performed admirably and expertly by RFA Mounts Bay for the past three years: humanitarian aid in the event of hurricanes, supporting the international fight against drug trafficking and reassuring citizens of British territories peppered around the North Atlantic/Caribbean that the mother country is there for them.

The ship used the 1,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to put her flight deck to use, conducting training

The first of those British citizens to receive that reassurance will be the inhabitants of Bermuda (pop. 71,176) after a 3,350-mile journey across the Atlantic.

Medway took on final supplies and fuel for that passage in Gib, then gave her sailors the chance to explore Britain’s Mediterranean territory with sights such as the top of the Rock and visits to the Donkey’s Flipflop.

The ship used the 1,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to put her flight deck to use, conducting training with a Wildcat from 815 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton, flashed up her main 30mm cannon with a spot of gunnery funnery, and hosted her first bingo night – comprehensively won by the weapon engineering department.