Medway has a Great time in Jamaica

The island-hopping adventure of Britain’s second new patrol ship has taken HMS Medway to Jamaica and a few hectic, high-profile days.

Since leaving Portsmouth in January, the second-generation River-class ship has been getting to know her vast patrol area: around 1½ million square miles of ocean – or about six times the size of the North Sea – roughly from Bermuda to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados to the Cayman Islands.

 

With Bermuda, Martinique, Curacao behind them, the 40-strong crew took the 2,000-tonne patrol vessel to Kingston for an extremely varied visit.

 

Medway is stationed in the Caribbean for up to five years under the Forward Presence programme, rotating her crew every few weeks to allow more time on patrol in a region which is key to UK interests and security.

 

The ship has a three-pronged mission in the region: provide reassurance to British and Commonwealth citizens and promote UK interests; provide assistance in the wake of natural disasters (chiefly the summer/autumn hurricanes); and work with our allies in the region to stop the flow of illegal drugs from South and Central America to the USA/Canada and Europe.

 

So a meeting with Jamaican Coast Guard officials to discuss regional maritime security and joint training opportunities ticked all three of those objectives.

 

As did a defence engagement day to demonstrate the RN/UK commitment to the region attended by Britain’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asif Ahmad, and defence attachés from the USA and Canada, keen to learn what the new ship can bring to broader operations in the Caribbean: Merlin-capable flight deck, 51-strong Royal Marines/Army detachment, raiding craft, 6,000 mile range, 30mm main gun, containers of humanitarian aid.

Permanent presence in the Caribbean is a great reassurance.

Mr Ahmad

Mr Ahmad told Commander Ben Power and his ship’s company that their “permanent presence in the Caribbean is a great reassurance”.

 

And talking of great… Medway’s sailors threw their weight behind the Government’s long-standing ‘Britain is Great’ campaign to encourage people around the world to visit the UK/buy British goods.

 

The ship’s company were guests at the 3rd Annual Jamaica-UK Fair held on the lawns of King's House, official residence of the governor general.

 

The grounds were turned into ‘little Britain’ with red telephone boxes, a miniature Big Ben, an F-Type Jaguar, Mini Cooper, Scotsmen in kilts and Beatles and Spice Girls tribute acts.

 

Before leaving Kingston there was time for some of the sailors to head across to the Royal Jamaican Yacht Club.

 

And after completing a survey of the capital’s harbour, Medway’s navigator Lieutenant Rob Hutchinson was told by his Commanding Officer that he’d been selected to command one of the Royal Navy’s small vessels: P2000 patrol craft or the fast boats of the Gibraltar Squadron.