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HMS Spey becomes first Royal Navy ship in 46 years to visit Vanuatu

1 April 2022
HMS Spey has become the first Royal Navy ship in 46 years to visit the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu.

It was January 29, 1976, when HMS Plymouth – a Rothesay-class frigate which was later involved in the Falklands War – visited the archipelago, which lies 1,090 miles east of Australia.

Patrol ship Spey has ended that run as she continues her long-term mission in the Indo-Pacific, which has seen her sail 24,000 miles from the UK via Hawaii and conduct a number of operations and port stops along the way. 

The ship arrived in Vanuatu fresh from work in Fiji and from supporting the fight against the Coronavirus in Pitcairn Island and updating historic charts of remote Pacific waters.

Spey called in at Port Vila for a Covid-safe visit and will work with patrol boat RVS Takuare in the vicinity of the capital and main trade hub before carrying out operations in the islands’ waters to protect fisheries.

HMS Spey’s Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Proudman, said: “It is a privilege to visit Vanuatu. It marks an important return of the Royal Navy to support the government and the people of Vanuatu. 

“Although the Covid situation will not allow us to engage as much as we would like, the opportunity to support patrols and build our relationship with the Police Maritime Wing is valuable, and we hope to be able to return to assist further when the situation allows.”

British High Commissioner, Karen Bell, said: "I am delighted to welcome HMS Spey to Vanuatu waters where she will be conducting contactless, Covid-safe exercises with Vanuatu’s RVS Takuare in and around Port Vila before carrying out operations in Vanuatu’s Exclusive Economic Zone. 

“I hope this visit will mark the establishment of a close and productive relationship between HMS Spey and the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing, laying the ground for close cooperation in future on areas such as fisheries protection and surveillance, in support of Vanuatu’s priorities.”

Commissioner of Police, Robson Iavro, said: “We are pleased to welcome HMS Spey to Vanuatu waters this week for a COVID-safe programme. While transiting Vanuatu waters, HMS Spey will work closely with Vanuatu's Police Maritime Wing, Australian Maritime Advisers and the Department of Fisheries, including on matters of maritime and fisheries surveillance.”

This visit will observe all Covid protocols in force in Vanuatu and involve no direct personal contact between visitors and onshore staff.


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