Rule of Severn - patrol ship shows a turn of speed in North Sea

The new generation of Royal Navy patrol ships may be grabbing the headlines, but veteran HMS Severn is no slouch.

Demonstrating her speed and deft manoeuvrability, the ship churns up the North Sea in company with her sister HMS Mersey as trainee officers are tested.

While HMS Tamar hosts VIPs on the Thames, and Medway, Trent and Forth knuckle down to operations around the globe (the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Falklands respectively), their first-generation River-class sisters continue to perform vital work for the navy and nation in home waters.

Severn returned to front-line operations in July after two and a half years out of action following decommissioning, reactivation, refitting and finally training, rejoining the Fleet as its dedicated navigation training ship (as well as being available for general duties).

For the past month the Portsmouth-based ship has been working in the North Sea, independently and in company with Mersey (from whom these impressive photographs were captured by LPhot Dan Shepherd).

As the Fleet Navigation Training ship, you would expect HMS Severn to take every opportunity for vigorous shiphandling.

Lieutenant Roddy Hartridge

Severn has gradually worked her way up the east coast of England, and now Scotland, allowing the ship’s history buffs to ‘castle watch’ by sailing close to ancient fortresses such as Bamburgh (near Lindisfarne) and Dunnottar (near Stonehaven).

Both Severn and Mersey paid a whistle-stop visit to Aberdeen to take on stores, change crew and host the city’s Lord Provost, Barney Crockett, before parting company, with Severn striking north to the vast expanse of Scapa Flow – the principal anchorage for the Royal Navy in both world wars.

Today the huge natural harbour – it covers an area twice the size of Nottingham – is largely quiet, but remains extremely useful for navigational and seamanship training.

The ship currently has Young Officers from Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth embarked to give them experience of life aboard a working warship.