Light shines for HMS Magpie as Prince Philip endorses new rallying cry

One of the Royal Navy’s smallest ships returns to action this month with a new motto – words given the seal of approval by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Hi-tech survey launch HMS Magpie will ‘shine light into darkness’ – lux in tenebris lucet – apt as she hoovers up unprecedented data and information about the waters and coastline of the nation’s key harbours.

The 18-metre-long catamaran traces her history back more than two centuries and has several battle honours under her belt, but has never had a rallying cry unlike many ships and submarines in the Fleet.

“The motto is aimed at complementing the ship's crest with the black annulet symbolising the darkness and the light within,” explained Lieutenant Commander Mark White, Magpie’s Commanding Officer.

I hope that adopting a motto will further embellish the already splendid ship's crest and act to inspire those who serve in her

Lieutenant Commander Mark White

“I hope that adopting a motto will further embellish the already splendid ship's crest and act to inspire those who serve in her.”

His ship is the ninth Magpie and has been specifically named after the wartime sloop/post-war frigate, which was commanded by Prince Philip between 1950 and 1952. That ship added battle honours in the Atlantic, Normandy and Arctic to Benin in 1897 and Baltic in 1855 by her predecessors.

The Duke of Edinburgh has endorsed the new motto – which is unique across the Fleet and has been selected to be non-specific to the survey vessel, so future Magpies can rise to it, whatever their mission or role – and receives regular updates on the small craft’s deeds.

The ship is currently undergoing her annual maintenance period/overhaul in the hands of Mashfords, across the water from her home base of Devonport in Cremyll. She’s due back in the water at the end of the month.