UK: HMS Montrose Continues Island Hopping Around South Atlantic

HMS Montrose Continues Island Hopping Around South Atlantic

Sailors from HMS Montrose near the top of Jacob’s Ladder, rising 600ft above Jamestown, capital of St Helena.

The frigate’s quest to visit all Britain’s territories in the South Atlantic while she conducts her six-month deployment of the southern ocean continued with another rare port of call.

Fresh from Ascension Island, a vital staging post between the UK and our possessions in the southern hemisphere – and not visited by one of Her Majesty’s Ships for five years – the Type 23 frigate made the 800-mile crossing to St Helena.

The last refuge of Napoleon (he was exiled there by a previous incarnation of Montrose’s sister HMS Northumberland), the small island (slightly bigger than Bristol but with a population of a little over 4,000) has enjoyed visits from Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels in recent years – but it’s been some time since the White Ensign flew in James Bay.

Even before 4,500 tonnes of battleship grey anchored off Jamestown, the first islanders were tasting what Montrose had to offer.

The ship’s Lynx flew into the grounds of Prince Andrew School to allow Commanding Officer Cdr Jonathan Lett to call on Governor Mark Capes.

That gave the helicopter crew the perfect opportunity to show the students around the 815 Naval Air Squadron Lynx – and provide a short but loud demonstration of what the Lynx can do.

Once Montrose herself was at anchor off Jamestown, she welcomed a number of islanders on board for tours, ranging from 1st Jamestown Scouts through to the New Horizons Youth Group.

Cdr Lett also hosted Mr Capes and other leading figures of the island community for lunch.

Throughout the visit, the ship’s company was equally busy ashore.

Thanks to New Horizons, they enjoyed a number of sporting fixtures including a keenly-contested football match (the ship was edged out 4-3) and a fantastic cricket match (also won by the locals).

On the final day, the ship’s netball team achieved a resounding victory over a local side, winning 66-7.

A number of the more intrepid members of Montrosers also played the famous St Helena Golf Course, while others took advantage of the opportunity to take part in diving, sea-kayaking and exploring the unique environment the island has to offer.

And feeding their desire to rise to every challenge in every port – and having only just recovered from the Dew Pond Run on Ascension – a large proportion of the ship’s company climbed the imposing 699 steps of Jacob’s Ladder.

The steps rise out of Jamestown to Ladder Hill Fort which looms over the capital and offers providing spectacular views over the town, James Bay and beyond.

“I am delighted that we have been able to engage with the people of St Helena at virtually every level from the Governor to younger members of the island’s community,”

said Cdr Lett.

“I hope that we have been able to give people an insight into Montrose’s mission in the South Atlantic, reassuring them that we will be here promoting British interests over the coming months.”

Naval Today Staff, December 01, 2011; Image: navy