Navy As Important Now As It Was During The War Says Captain

HMS Somerset 2
The Royal Navy frigate, HMS Somerset, is visiting the islands this weekend.

And Commanding Officer, Mike Smith, says the Navy’s role in protecting the UK’s trade routes are as important now as they were during World War II.

Ninety islanders, including councillors and former navy personnel, were invited to tour the Devonport-based vessel last night and were given demonstrations of her capability.

The warship has undergone a £20m refit and locals had a chance to see how radar, sonar and communications are used, and were given a demonstration of guns and missile systems.

The ship is effectively a floating town of 180 crew, with many of the same challenges as our island community. The ship creates its own water by desalination and enough electricity to power Hugh Town.

Last night, the Naval Regional Commander for Wales and Western England, Jamie Miller, spoke passionately about the Royal Navy’s connection with the islands.

He explained how crew appreciated the link to an area that gives their name to ships within the fleet, and asked whether it was time for Scilly to lend its name to a warship.

HMS Somerset’s visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, in which the Navy fought hard to maintain a lifeline to the UK during the darkest days of the war.

Crewmembers from ship will be taking part in a special commemorative service at the Star Castle this evening, when the Hotel will be flying the White Ensign to mark the occasion.

Commander Smith says his crew are aware of the significant role that the islands played during that battle, when vessels damaged by German attack were brought into the Roads before being taken to ports like Falmouth for repair.

And he says he’s honoured that his sailors can take part in the service with such a strong maritime community.

Today, members of the public can take a look around the vessel and there’ll be a special tour tomorrow for the islands’ schoolchildren.

HMS Somerset was launched in 1992 and she’s recently undergone a refit of her weapons and sensors that Commander Smith says will allow her to carry out a range of operations, from antipiracy to full-scale military conflict, for years to come.

The crew have been on operational sea training exercises ahead of deployment later this year on antipiracy duties and Commander Smith says the visit is a chance for the crew to take some time off from their busy testing and training schedule.

Tickets for the today’s public tours can be obtained for free at the TIC.


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