HMS Kent is home from Navy’s key mission of 2021

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Kent

HMS Kent today arrived back home in Portsmouth.

The frigate has been a constant guardian of the Carrier Strike Group 21, one of six vessels which formed a ring of steel around UK flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Kent spent seven and a half months away from home - 224 days or 32 weeks – with the task group.

Her principal role, with HMS Richmond and the helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron, operating from the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, was to track any potential underwater threats to the force as it passed from the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean and into the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

They did so – tracking submarines on multiple occasions. 

A short while after the carrier arrived back at Portsmouth Naval Base this morning, HMS Kent joined her, welcomed by several hundred friends and family.

HMS Kent’s participation in the Navy’s most important peacetime deployment in a generation has:

  • Taken her through 15 different seas and oceans in both hemispheres;
  • Take her to ten ports across four continents.
  • Seen her work with 17 other navies.
  • Take on fuel and supplies on the move on 20 occasions
  • Seen off 13,000 sausages and over 39,000 eggs
  • Forced her sailors and marines to forward/rewind clocks on 25 occasions as they passed through time zones
  • Added 48,525 nautical miles to her odometer – which would take her around the world more than twice.

In addition, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter – callsign Shepherd and normally based with 815 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset – flew 239 hours and 15 minutes of sorties (45 minutes shy of ten whole days airborne).

And the Royal Marines team from 42 Commando – specialists in board and search operations to stop piracy/drug trafficking/smuggling – administered more than 12,000 Lateral Flow Tests to keep the frigate safe from Covid.

“Despite the challenges of operating in a Covid world, Kent’s ship’s company have excelled themselves throughout 2021,” said Lieutenant Commander Matthew Court, the frigate’s Executive Officer (second in command).

“From Greece to Guam, the team have bought out the very best in each other: safaris in Kenya, the Bangladesh Navy band and Miss Kent aside, I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of sailors to deploy with. Invicta – We are invincible.”

Though the pandemic has limited the opportunities of the 200 men and women on board to experience some of the countries visited as they would do in normal circumstances, the crew were able to head out on safari in Kenya when the ship called in at Mombasa on the return leg of the deployment.

“After completing trade training at HMS Sultan, this has been my first ship and first deployment where I have started to put what I learnt into practice,” said Marine Engineering Technician Josh Gayton.

“With a deployment as long and as busy as this, it has been challenging physically and mentally with constant training along the way.

“However there has also been the opportunity to visit some great countries including Guam and also Kenya, where I was able to take part in a safari which was also the highlight of the deployment.”

Throughout sailors made their own entertainment, from the traditional Crossing the Line ceremony to mark passing over the Equator, to five opportunities to swim with only the ocean floor thousands of feet beneath them by jumping in from the sides of the frigate (known as hands to bathe).

The chefs prepared more than 130,000 meals while away, including staging 96 ‘themed dinners’ aboard to add a little variety to the menu.

And the ship’s physical training instructor made sure that all that lovely food didn’t pile on the pounds by running 480 fitness circuits to burn the calories.

Another fitness drive – a circuit every hour for 12 hours led by Petty Officer Potter Grant – raised £1,500 for the charity MIND.

And a further £1,231 was raised for Forces charity SSAFA when the medical team ran 100 kilometres continuously around the upper deck.

From Greece to Guam, the team have bought out the very best in each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of sailors to deploy with.

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Court, Executive Officer