UK: HMS Puncher to Show Flexibility

HMS Puncher to Show Flexibility

This Summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games have presented HMS Puncher and the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron the chance to show their flexibility by re-rolling from their common training task into that of force protection assets.

Tasked to operate with 539 Assault Squadron HMS Puncher will be based on the Thames in company with HMS Blazer and Express whilst 3 other 1PBS units have been allocated to operate in support of the sailing events in Weymouth.

Preparing the 20m patrol craft for this task is no mean feat. It has required the units to think carefully about how to manage the small crew of 5 regular RN personnel in order to maximise the capability of the ship.

With only a few augmentees, the ships will provide 24 hour coverage in the outer reaches of the Thames. This will give early warning of suspicious activity to the command and control locations to best assist the on task Police and RN assets.

During the recent Olympic Guardian Exercise HMS Puncher was tested in her ability to work with the outside authorities such as Met Police and UK Border Agency.

It provided a valuable period for the ship to practice routinely operating in the Thames Estuary whilst dealing with strong tidal streams and heavy traffic.

It also allowed the opportunity to work with the other Naval units allocated, this included forming part of HMS Ocean’s escort as she entered the river for her Greenwich berth.

Although being stationed offshore for the games the Ship’s Company are in no doubt as to the importance of their task. Lt George Storton, HMS Puncher’s Commanding Officer, said

“We have a key role to perform on the Thames providing a visual deterrent in the outer reaches whilst reassuring marine traffic of the security presence on the river.

“For the P2000s this allows an excellent opportunity to prove their inherent capability when tasked to conduct coastal protection duties.”

On completion of the Paralympic Games HMS Puncher will return to base port to continue URNU training alongside assisting MWS and BRNC with Navigation training in the Solent.

Naval Today Staff , June 12, 2012; Image: Royal Navy