Royal Navy ends 2022 as it began the year – on patrol at home and worldwide

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: People

“The world doesn’t stop and we cannot either.”

The words of Lieutenant Commander Grahame Flint, Executive Officer of patrol ship HMS Severn, one of thousands of sailors and Royal Marines on duty or on call this festive period to guarantee your safety and security.

After an unrelenting 2022 there is little let-up in the pace of operations or demands on the personnel of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

They are deployed this Christmas from the land of the Rising Sun, through the steamy jungle of Brunei, the sands of the Gulf to the frozen fringes of both Polar regions and the bleak waters of the Atlantic and North Sea.

Portsmouth-based patrol ship HMS Severn is one of several Royal Navy vessels assigned to Operation Isotrope, supporting the Home Office in the Channel, meaning the ship’s company are on call to take her to sea at short notice… even interrupting Christmas dinner.

It’s the second year running that Severn’s gunnery officer William Gunter has been on duty during the festive period.

He hopes that the public will reflect on the sacrifices Service personnel are making on their behalf.

“The world is growing evermore unstable and unpredictable,” said the 28-year-old from South Wales. “It falls to us in the Armed Forces to maintain protection of the UK 365 days a year, no matter what time of year.”

Christmas day routine is generally fairly relaxed whether a ship is at sea or in port. In addition to personal mobile phones and internet/email connectivity aboard, welfare calls allow sailors and marines to speak to loved ones at home for free.

Many ships organise a collective opening of presents – as well as gifts from friends and families, there are also surprises from charities as a thank-you to the Forces for their service – quite often the youngest sailor aboard enjoys the chance to be captain for the day, and traditional Christmas dinner is served up by officers.

In an end-of-year message to the Navy, its second-most-senior officer, Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Andrew Burns, thanked everyone for their efforts throughout a demanding 2022.

“I recognise the commitment of both you and your families and what your tireless work means to our Service and the nation,” he said.

“I hope most of you can take some well-earned rest over the Christmas period and celebrate all that has been delivered this year. Meanwhile our thoughts and gratitude will be with those who remain on-watch over the festive period.”

Units deployed or on call are:

North Atlantic: Survey ship HMS Scott continues her record-breaking final deployment hoovering up data

South Atlantic: HMS Forth on patrol around the Falklands; HMS Protector continues her scientific mission off the Antarctic peninsula

Caribbean: HMS Medway is undergoing maintenance in Florida after covering 10,000 miles this autumn around the Caribbean

Indo-Pacific: HMS Tamar has just completed a visit to Brunei while HMS Spey is in Japan undergoing maintenance before resuming her patrols

Mediterranean: HMS Cutlass and Dagger are enjoying their first Christmas on The Rock with the RN Gibraltar Squadron, accompanied by patrol ship HMS Trent

High North: Elements of 3 Commando Brigade and Commando Helicopter Force are already in the Norwegian Arctic ready for their annual winter training ramping up

Gulf: HMS Lancaster is enjoying her first Christmas in Bahrain, having relieved HMS Montrose; The Gulf-based minehunting force – HMS Bangor, Chiddingfold, Middleton, plus RFA Cardigan Bay– is enjoying a festive break after working around the clock providing security for the World Cup in Qatar

Around the UK: HMS Severn is assigned to operations in the Channel; And HMS Somerset stand ready to respond to any incident in home waters, supported by Royal Marines, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Fleet Auxiliary as required.

Royal Navy medics and surgical staff are on duty throughout the festive period, working alongside NHS colleagues, especially at Derriford and Queen Alexandra Hospitals in Plymouth and Portsmouth

And as there has been since Christmas 1969, one Royal Navy submarine will be on patrol somewhere on Operation Relentless, the nuclear deterrence mission.

I recognise the commitment of both you and your families and what your tireless work means to our Service and the nation

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Andrew Burns