The UK Royal Navy Batch II River-class offshore patrol vessel HMS Medway (P223) has visited Gibraltar on her way to the Atlantic to begin her long-term mission.
According to the Royal Navy, this was the vessel’s first visit to the Rock and potentially her last for many years.
HMS Medway left Portsmouth at the beginning of last week to take up permanent station in the Caribbean as part of the Navy’s new ‘forward presence’ initiative – basing ships long-term around the globe and rotating crews every few weeks, rather than bringing the vessels back to the UK every six or so months.
In Medway’s case, the mission is Atlantic Patrol Ship (North), a task performed by Royal Fleet Auxiliary Bay-class auxiliary landing ship dock RFA Mounts Bay (L3008) for the past three years. The tasks included humanitarian aid in the event of hurricanes, supporting the international fight against drug trafficking and reassuring citizens of British territories peppered around the North Atlantic/Caribbean that the mother country is there for them.
The first of those British citizens to receive that reassurance will be the inhabitants of Bermuda (pop. 71,176) after a 3,350-mile journey across the Atlantic.
The ship used the 1,000-mile passage from Portsmouth to put her flight deck to use, conducting training with a Wildcat from 815 Naval Air Squadron (815 NAS) at RNAS Yeovilton, flashed up her main 30mm cannon with a spot of gunnery funnery, and hosted her first bingo night – comprehensively won by the weapon engineering department.