UK: HMS Echo Heads for Deployment

HMS Echo Heads for Deployment

Survey ship HMS Echo has picked up the baton where her sister Enterprise left off to begin her second 18-month deployment in three years. She left Falmouth on Monday – as Enterprise was returning to Plymouth – and will spend the next year and a half updating charts of the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean, just as she did on her previous 18-month tour of duty.

While their colleagues in HMS Enterprise were enjoying a warm welcome in Plymouth after nine months away, sailors in her sister ship HMS Echo slipped their moorings quietly 40 miles down the coast.

The survey ship departed Falmouth on Bank Holiday Monday to return to waters she knows well as she begins her second 18-month deployment in three years.

For the next year and a half, she’ll update charts of stretches of the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean – pretty much exactly what she did on her previous 18-month deployment which concluded in the summer of 2012.

That mission saw her find hitherto unknown – and potentially dangerous – natural features, in particular in the Red Sea, as well as wrecks in the Med, and an historic first visit to Tripoli since the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Since completing that first 18-month deployment, Echo’s undergone a revamp, followed by training, two weeks taking part in the Joint Warrior exercise off north-west Scotland, a spot of maintenance in Falmouth – which has become a second home to these Devonport-based hydrographic ships.

“This deployment is what we’ve been working towards and presents an exciting opportunity for the ship’s company to demonstrate and employ the skills they have developed over the past year in an operational environment,”

said Echo’s Executive Officer Lt Cdr Karen Fyfe.

The passage to the Med will be far from pleasant – and we’re not talking about the vagaries of the Bay of Biscay; aboard Echo initially is a team of assessors testing the ability of the ship’s company to deal with various damage control scenarios (fire, flood – basically the things you don’t want happening on a ship).

Although Echo herself will be away for 18 months, not so her sailors; thanks to rotation of the ship’s company, one third of the sailors change every few weeks.

Press Release, June 4, 2013; Image: Royal Navy