The Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunter HMS Penzance (M106) has arrived at the Stromness Harbour in the Orkney Islands, an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, on March 26, 2018.
During the two day visit until March 28, Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Lee Vessey and his 40 strong crew will host a series of visits for schools, cadets and local dignitaries. This will include a group of students from the Maritime Studies Department at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
“It is a huge privilege to bring Penzance into Stromness after a busy programme for the ship and crew. We look forward to hosting the groups onboard and enjoying some time ashore. We will also pay our respects to the War Grave of HMS Vanguard as we depart.” said Lt Cdr Vessey.
Carefully constructed to enable her to enter minefield without triggering mines herself, the Sandown Class boasts the latest in mine hunting technology. Each ship is equipped with the Seafox mine disposal system – a mini unmanned submarine capable of diving down to examine and dispose of ordnance – and a team of expert Royal Navy clearance divers.
Lt Cdr Vessey and his crew have just completed two weeks of navigation and safety exercises at sea with International partners from Vietnam, Belize, Barbados, Jordan, Jamaica, Kenya and Lebanon.
Whilst on board HMS Penzance, the students worked closely with the ships company to test and develop their navigation skills, ship-handling abilities and responses to emergencies and tactical scenarios.
In September last year, HMS Penzance returned to her home port of HM Naval Base Clyde after completing a three year deployment in the Gulf, where she was one of five Royal Navy vessels which joined forces with the United States Mine Hunting vessels and aircraft to take part in a major exercise in the Arabian Gulf, testing their prowess in locating underwater explosives.
At any one time, the Royal Navy has four mine hunters working the Gulf, safeguarding the waterways for all shipping in the area.
While there, the vessels conduct routine surveys, sea-bed clearance and mine clearance operations. The ships provide a visible naval presence in the region where stability and good relations with local nations is vital.
Warships regularly operate in UK coastal waters helping to protect our own sea lanes from historic ordnance, a legacy of two world wars.