The Royal Navy Type 23 Duke-class frigate, HMS Monmouth (F235) has returned to her home in HMNB Devonport after being deployed with the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The frigate has operated as part of the Carrier Strike Group since the ships sailed in August on the WESTLANT 2018 Deployment.
Her role has been to provide security at sea for the Strike Group on the East Coast of the US as the Carrier conducted hugely successful and historic trials with the F35B- Lightning II jets. During her deployment, she travelled over 20,000 miles, celebrated the ship’s 25th Birthday and narrowly avoided two hurricanes.
HMS Monmouth was a critical part of the Task Group, escorting HMS Queen Elizabeth and capable of operating independently should the mission have required.
She has been augmented by her versatile Wildcat Attack helicopter – ‘Blackjack’ – who became the first Wildcat to land on the carrier. The Task Group was also supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Tanker, RFA Tidespring and was later joined by the American destroyer USS Lassen; demonstrating the close relationship the two navies share and continue to build on as the UK re-establishes its carrier strike capability.
During the deployment HMS Monmouth represented the UK at Maryland Fleet Week in Baltimore, where she hosted thousands of visitors whilst she was open to the public. The embarked Royal Marines Band Scotland, borrowed from HMS Queen Elizabeth, put on a spectacular show as they marched through the streets of the ‘Charm City’.
Baltimore’s proximity to the United States Capital, Washington DC proved too good an opportunity to miss and 65 lucky members of the ship’s company were treated to a special tour organised by the British Embassy. This took in all the major tourist sites including the White House, Congress and the House of Representatives.
Monmouth also visited Charleston, South Carolina and conducted a Service of Remembrance on Armistice Day, commemorating 100 years since the end of WW1.
The following day, US Veteran’s Day, she held another service at the HMS Seraph memorial. HMS Seraph was a submarine which played a pivotal role in several operations during second world war and is the only location in mainland USA that is permitted to fly the Royal Navy’s white ensign.
HMS Monmouth’s Commanding Officer, Commander Will King said:
“WESTLANT18 has been a ground breaking deployment for many reasons, including the huge success of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s historic trials with the F35B, Lightning II.
“HMS Monmouth has also achieved many firsts and has pioneered the way as the first unit to escort the carrier on deployment, marking another significant stride forward in generating the UK’s carrier strike capability.
“During these last four months, we have learned a great many lessons and the task group has benefited enormously from the collective training opportunities. My sailors have performed to the highest standard throughout and now look to a well-earned and restful Christmas with their families and friends.”