Great Scott – survey ship breaks record on epic deployment

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Scott

Veteran survey ship HMS Scott has returned to Plymouth after a record-breaking nine-month stint in the Atlantic.

The ship has hoovered up information spanning 400,000 square kilometres of ocean – that’s larger than Japan, Germany or Norway – the most ever collected in a 12-month period by the ship since she joined the Fleet back in 1997.

Scott – named after the ill-fated Antarctic explorer – left home in June last year, since when she’s clocked up more than 43,000 miles, nearly enough to take her twice around the world… although the ship hasn’t strayed beyond the Atlantic.

She’s been gathering environmental data from the depths of the North Atlantic, using her unique multi-beam sonar-array to gather information in higher resolution than has ever been obtained in these waters before.

The ship adopted the Navy’s widening ‘forward deployment’ model to extend her stint at sea – conducting maintenance in overseas ports to save her returning to the UK, rotating a portion of her 60-strong crew every few weeks to keep personnel fresh, which proved no mean feat in the midst of the pandemic – and maximise the survey effort.

Keeping a 25-year-old ship running round-the-clock has placed demands on those responsible for maintaining the machinery and sensors.

“Over this deployment the marine engineering department has faced many challenges that we have needed to overcome in order to maintain power to command. The determination from the engineering team has been nothing short of exemplary,” said Leading Engineering Technician Ben Stevenson.

Scott’s hydrographic specialists have worked equally diligently to monitor, analyse the data collected and help to understand the nature of the water column.
All of which earned the ship the 2021 Hydrographic and Meteorological and Surface Flotilla Excellence Award and Pennant.

“These achievements are down to the professionalism, teamwork and resilience of my crew,” said a proud Commander Tom Harrison, Scott’s Commanding Officer.

“They have performed to a very high level and have shown both cheerfulness and determination in the face of challenges such as Covid-19 restrictions, engineering defects and uncertainty about the ship’s future.”

During the long periods of survey time at sea, the crew arranged various events and activities to maintain morale: a typical week involved Wednesday afternoon sport, Friday night quiz, a weekend barbecue and all the ship getting together for a cuppa on Sundays. And regular circuit sessions, badminton tournaments, spinning classes and morning yoga workouts maintained the sailors’ physical fitness.

 “I really enjoyed our wholeship Taskmaster competitions, which we filmed and watched together in the Wardroom. Everyone gets involved, from junior ratings to the Commanding Officer, and having a laugh together is important when you are at sea for long periods,” said Able Seaman Sam Dewey.

Crew were able to stretch their legs – Covid restrictions allowing – in Madeira, where hiking, mountain-biking and wicker-basket tobogganing were particularly popular in Gibraltar and Barbados.

With the extended mission complete, Scott has a couple of months’ maintenance in Falmouth, before returning to survey operations in June.

“With over a million square miles of ocean still to explore, this crew have proven that even at 25 years old, HMS Scott is surveying better now than she has ever done so before,” said hydrographics officer Lieutenant Naomi Stevens.

These achievements are down to the professionalism, teamwork and resilience of my crew.

Commander Tom Harrison