Royal Navy's Magnificent Seven complete their summer deployment

The Royal Navy’s very own Magnificent Seven are heading home after three weeks sailing round the coastlines of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The summer deployment has provided the crews of the seven ships of the Coastal Forces Squadron a unique opportunity to practice essential seamanship and navigational skills.

This month, three of the ships – HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express – sailed up the west coast of Scotland, while HMS Trumpeter, HMS Archer, HMS Explorer and HMS Example followed the east coast route.

The first port of call for the west coast three was Bangor in Northern Ireland, where they hosted the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Trevor Cummings, before calling into Port Ellen, Oban, Fort William, Kyle of Lochalsh and Ullapool on route to Stornoway. Here they were joined by Naval Regional Commander, Captain Chris Smith who met with the commanding officers and their crews and engaged with local communities.

In Stornoway, the teams conducted search and rescue training with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopter and crew and attended a special service and wreath laying in remembrance of those lost on January 1, 1919 on HMY Iolaire.

Continuing their tour of the west coast, Biter, Charger and Express called into Loch Boisdale and Tobermory with return visits to Oban and Northern Ireland, this time to Carrickfergus, before finishing off in Campbelltown, paying a special visit to the outgoing Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, Mr Patrick Stewart, CVO MBE.

Lieutenant Rebecca Anderson, Commanding Officer of HMS Biter and leader of the West Coast Task Group, said: “Over this operational training period, we have been privileged to exercise in some of the most beautiful areas of the United Kingdom, enhancing our navigational training package for the Royal Navy navigators of the future.”  

“Highlights include HMS Charger’s transit of the infamous Gulf of Corryvreckan, a poignant lesson in accurate reading of the maritime environment for our Junior Navigators and also the search and rescue training all units conducted with the Stornoway Coastguard. The hospitality, knowledge and support of the local people has been invaluable and we wholeheartedly thank everyone in Scotland and Northern Ireland who have contributed to the enduring success of this deployment.”

Meanwhile, the east coast four started off in Leith followed by Peterhead and in both ports the crews used new technology to give local Sea Cadets virtual tours of the ships. They also visited Wick before moving on to Orkney where they were joined by Naval Regional Commander, Captain Chris Smith.

During the visit to Kirkwall, Captain Smith hosted the new Lord Lieutenant of Orkney, Elaine Grieve and guests from Kirkwall High School on board HMS Archer and HMS Example. The four vessels and their crews spent some time in Stronsay, Westray and Stromness before beginning their return voyage down the east coast visiting Wick and Fraserburgh, finishing where they started, in Leith Harbour.

Captain Chris Smith, Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “As the summer deployment for the seven ships from the Coastal Forces Squadron draws to a close, I am delighted with all that has been achieved. 

“The Royal Navy has conducted some high value navigational training in demanding waters and renewed our much valued, and most important links with many coastal communities.”

He continued: “Throughout the deployment, the ships have been given a very warm reception, whilst also conducting mutually beneficial exercises with the MCA Search and Rescue helicopters, and the RNLI.  We are very grateful for the hospitality that has been extended to the Royal Navy by all who have said hello, ashore or at sea.”