The UK Royal Navy’s seven Archer Class P2000 Patrol Boats are preparing to ride North for the Summer where they will spend a fortnight sailing around Scotland’s coastline, providing an opportunity for important Operational Training for their crews.
The seven ships – HMS Biter, HMS Charger, HMS Express, HMS Trumpeter, HMS Archer, HMS Explorer and HMS Example – all support University Royal Naval Units (URNU) and can reach the parts that other navy ships can’t reach. At just over 20 meters long they are some of the smallest vessels in the Fleet, giving them the ability to sail to some of the smaller Scottish harbours.
Captain Chris Smith, Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “It is great to be able to bring the Royal Navy near to some of our smaller communities which, because of harbour size, don’t usually get a visit from our ships.
“The P2000s may be small, but they pack a punch, and regularly exercise around the UK and Europe as well as supporting the Fleet.”
He continued: “Usually we would be hosting visits from local groups and organisations while alongside but, with the current situation, this is unfortunately not possible. We hope to engage with local organisations across social media and using new technologies, and if people spot them in their area do give them a wave!”
The Summer deployment will provide the crews of the seven vessels with a unique opportunity to practice seamanship and navigation skills.
Each ship has a core crew of full-time Royal Navy sailors which in normal times would be augmented by members of the University Royal Naval Units. While this is not possible this time due to the current restrictions, each vessel will use new technologies to have a weekly virtual drill night with their associated URNU.
The Royal Navy has 14 Fast Inshore Patrol Craft which together form the First Patrol Boat Squadron.
Although their primary role is to support the URNUs, they also contribute to a wide range of Fleet Tasking. Two of them, HMS Tracker and HMS Raider, are permanently based at HMNB Clyde where they are part of the team safeguarding the nuclear fleet.
Beginning July 4th, four of the Archer Class Patrol Boats – Trumpeter, Archer, Explorer and Example – will sail up the East Coast of Scotland, while Biter, Charger and Express will follow the West Coast route.
Harbour stops along the way include: Leith, Peterhead, Wick, Westray, Stromness, Inverness, Fraserburgh, Port Ellen, Oban, Fort William, Kyle of Lochalsh, Ullapoool, Stornoway, Loch Boisdale and Tobermory.