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Patrol ships bid farewell to Portsmouth as they begin Indo-Pacific deployment

7 September 2021
Patrol ships HMS Spey and Tamar have today begun their deployment to the Indo-Pacific region to bolster Britain’s presence in the region.

The two warships have sailed on a mission which will see them deployed across a vast area, from the eastern shores of Africa to the west coast of the USA, for the next five years.

Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, was at HM Naval Base Portsmouth to wave them off as they begin final preparations on the south coast.

Spey and Tamar will arrive in the Pacific on the back of the maiden deployment by HMS Queen Elizabeth and her strike group which have spent several months working alongside the UK’s allies and partners in the region.

They will act as the eyes and ears of the Navy – and nation – in the region, working alongside Britain’s allies, carrying out security patrols to deal with drug-running, smuggling, terrorism and other illegal activities, joining in exercises with other navies and armed forces, and flying the flag for Global Britain.

No permanent home has been assigned to the pair – instead they will make use of bases and ports in the Pacific region which best meets their needs and mission.

Their patrol area embraces both the Indian and Pacific oceans, extending as far north as the Bering Sea and south to the foot of Tasmania and New Zealand.

They are sailing across the Atlantic and into the Pacific from where their patrols of their new ‘home’ will begin in earnest.

“Two-thirds of the world is our playground,” said Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, HMS Spey’s Commanding Officer. 

“We are going to places that the Royal Navy has not visited in a long time – that’s really exciting.”

Lieutenant Thomas Adlam Royal Navy, HMS Tamar’s 1st Lieutenant, added: “The deployment will offer an array of challenges but also a number of opportunities for many of us to see new parts of the world. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this crew.” 

The crews will be joined by extra personnel – up to 52 Royal Marines or troops in a dedicated mess – or mission-specific equipment to deliver humanitarian aid or help with evacuations, depending on their mission, a versatility which makes the vessels “2,000-tonne Swiss Army knives”.

Each ship is crewed by 46 sailors, with half the crew trading places with shipmates from the UK every few weeks.

The constant rotation allows the Navy to get the most out of the ships, with the crews at sea for up to nine months of the year, while the vessels themselves ready for operations all year round.

All are excited by the prospect of the Pacific mission.

“A lot of the Navy’s current deployment focus has been based around the Gulf,” said Leading Weapons Engineer Alex Twidell, serving in HMS Tamar.

“The opportunity to go to the Indo-Asia Pacific offers an exciting opportunity that very few in the newest generation of Royal Navy sailors have had the chance to partake in. It will be an amazing experience.”

His Commanding Officer, Commander Teilo Elliot-Smith, added: “I am incredibly proud to be given the opportunity to join HMS Tamar and sail with such a talented ship’s company on the Ship’s maiden deployment, extending the global reach of the Royal Navy to the Indo-Asia Pacific.

“I have served in this region before, but it is an exciting new endeavour for us as the lead echelon of the RN’s new permanent forward presence.

“The ship will operate in this part of the world for the foreseeable future, working closely to strengthen our existing alliances in the region, whilst also embracing the opportunity to support the development of newer relationships along the way.”

The hulls of both Tamar and Spey have received retro World War era ‘dazzle paint’ – making them distinct from most other warships around the globe. 

Lt Cdr Evans said: “With our paint schemes, we stand out – we look different. We’ll be flying the White Ensign together in the Indo-Pacific region. People will know that the Royal Navy is back.”

The sister ships are the last of five in the River class at the forefront of the Navy’s programme of deploying its vessels for several years at a time in key strategic regions of the globe.

HMS Forth patrols around the Falklands and South Atlantic, HMS Medway is part of the UK naval task group in the Caribbean and HMS Trent conducts security patrols of the Mediterranean and off West Africa.

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