Reservists Swap Lives for Year Serving as Part of Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron
Two Royal Navy Reservists have swapped their civilian lives for a year serving as part of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron. They are manning the Royal Navy’s Fast Patrol Boats patrolling the shores of Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediteranean.
Able Rate Alex Harper (22) and Able Rate Matthew Amelan (40) have swapped their civilian lives to coxswain the navy’s Pacific rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RIBs) where they will be working for a year. On opposite watches they are part of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron consisting of two Scimitar- class patrol boats HMS Scimitar and HMS Sabre and three Pacific Rigid Raiders.
The role of the boats and people of the Gibraltar Squadron is to safeguard Gibraltar’s shores, while contributing to joint operations. In addition, the Gibraltar Squadron provides a maritime Quick Reaction Force to support ships in the local area, and keeps a watchful eye over shipping passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. The craft of the squadron are often busy supporting British and NATO exercises in the region, or indeed other nations’ maritime forces. Achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots the rigid inflatable boats are more than capable of providing maritime security and keeping the watching eye in the area.
“I am really enjoying my time at the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron. It can be a challenging maritime environment to operate and so far I’m finding it particularly rewarding”. On joining the naval reserves he added: “Joining the Reserves has been an excellent opportunity for me to learn new skills, take part in exciting activities and transform my spare time”.
“I am enjoying my full time Reserve commitment at the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron, my duty involves routine patrols off British Gibraltar Territorial Waters as a Coxswain, on duty I’m at short notice to perform a variety of tasks”.
Commanding Officer of HMS Scimitar Lt Tom Knott said:
“As part of Future Reserves 2020 the Royal Naval Reserves will have an even more significant role. Using reservists for us is mutually beneficial, is gives us flexibility in the Squadron whilst providing the reservists with depth and experience patrolling in a challenging environment”
The Senior Naval Officer of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron and Commanding Officer HMS Sabre Lt Adam Stevenson said: We’re delighted to have Able Rates Alex Harper and Matthew Amelan as part of the Gibraltar Squadron, I have been particularly impressed with the dedication and commitment they have shown. The enhancement they have provided to the operational capability of the Squadron reflects highly of them and the wider contribution that the RNR are making to the Future Naval Force.”
Alex has been a naval reservist at his local Reservist Unit in Plymouth HMS Vivid since 2006, in his civilian career he is a trainee chef in Plymouth. In the short time since joining, he has had an action packed career conducting anti-piracy patrols onboard RFA Wave Knight and Force Protection onboard RFA Lyme Bay. He has also been awarded an Iraq medal for his time spent on Operation Telic in 2010. Since joining he has also managed to travel to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kenya.
Matthew’s current reservist unit is HMS Eaglet, Liverpool and since joining the Reserves in 2009 has served onboard HMS Ocean on anti-drugs operations in the Caribbean and Force Protection onboard RFA Cardigan Bay.
Naval Today Staff , February 17, 2012; Image: royalnavy