HMS Richmond’s sailors take the plunge in planet’s deepest waters

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Richmond

After months of hard work, including recent operations on behalf of the United Nations, HMS Richmond’s sailors were given the chance to swim in the waters above the deepest place on Earth in the Pacific Ocean.

With a call of “hands to bathe”, the ship’s company took to the 30C water close to the Mariana Trench which sits 11,000m below the surface.

The frigate is part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group and has spent the past few weeks in the Indo-Pacific region conducting a number of operations and exercises.

But with calm waters beneath them and the ship transiting to her next port stop, it was decided to give the sailors a well-earned dip and Richmond’s sailing dinghy its debut in the sea.

Dubbed the Earl of March, after the Duke of Richmond’s eldest son, the 1RS Fusion dinghy has spent the deployment so far in shelter on the upper deck. “Action dinghy, action dinghy” was piped and the Fusion was rigged and ready for her maiden voyage with the ship’s commanding officer Commander Hugh Botterill on board.

It was then the turn of hydrographic and meteorological specialist Leading Seaman Samuel Woods. He said: “A quick in-the-water handover to myself, I sailed the Earl of March out into perfect sailing conditions.

“Pushing her to the limits with the pressure of 200 sailors watching my every move, I took this opportunity to reach past, planing with just my toes in the straps, hoping the upcoming gybe wouldn’t be the talking point in the mess afterwards.

“With most the ship’s company now in the water, sailors with some experience and some with no experience in dinghy sailing wanted some of the action. So myself and the commanding officer took around ten members of the ship’s company for a quick blast, planing up and down, enjoying the conditions.”

HMS Richmond has deployed with British flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, fellow frigate HMS Kent, Type 45 destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships Fort Victoria and Tidespring.

The global seven-month deployment has seen the ships, including the US Navy’s USS The Sullivans and the Dutch’s HNLMS Evertsen, work with a number of allies and partner nations during their voyage which has taken them through the Atlantic, Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and Pacific.