UK: HMS Sutherland Gives a Taste of Life at Sea to Friends & Families

HMS Sutherland Gives a Taste of Life at Sea to Friends and Families

The crew of Plymouth Royal Navy warship HMS Sutherland took its families and friends for a rare day at sea to say thank you for their support during long periods away at sea.

Commander Al Wilson, the commanding officer of HMS Sutherland had his family on board.

He said: “To be able to say thank you to our families is so important, because they have supported us through so much and today it’s been fantastic to see so many loved ones onboard and enjoying the day.’’

The special day began with a welcome by Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, previously First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy and now President of the Royal Navy and Royal Marine’s Charity (RNRMC).

He then presented sailors with Commanding Officer’s Efficiency Awards. Presented with a Sutherland silver Quaich and a much sought after Captain’s Coin, the winners were Chief Petty Officer (Marine Engineering) ‘Tommo’ Thompson, Leading Seaman (Communication Information Systems ‘Mac’ McIntyre, Leading Chef Brad Morton, and Able Seaman (Warfare Specialist) Jamieson. Petty Officer (Electronic Warfare) ‘Fez’ Parker was not present for his award.

Then it was HMS Sutherland’s turn – awarding Admiral Sir Band £6,300 for the RNRMC raised during the ‘Highland Escape Challenge’ completed by five crew members in April. The team were landed from the ship in Invergordon in Sutherland and tasked to race it back to Plymouth, raising as much money for the RNRMC as possible en route. Their challenge was to do all this with only a Royal Navy ID card, a collecting tin and the teams wit, charm and initiative – no transport, no money and no phones.

In response Admiral Band awarded HMS Sutherland with the Challenge Trophy, awarded to the Royal Naval unit that had raised the most money for the RNRMC. This prize included £1,000 worth of sports equipment for the Ship’s Company.

The ship then sailed for the day to give families a chance to see where their loved ones lived and worked when deployed to the Gulf last year.

The ship’s seaboat was launched and the crew showed off their boat driving skills while the coastguard search and rescue helicopter demonstrated a mock rescue of Able Seaman ‘Ronnie’ Corbett from the sea and returned him to the boat.

HMS Sutherland Gives a Taste of Life at Sea to Friends and Families1

The boarding teams then showed what they did on deployment by showing how to board the seaboat while carrying guns. The families were shown a scene exercised often and played out for real in the Gulf, when the team and their Royal Marine counterparts boarded vessels suspected of piracy activity.

On completion the logisticians also got to demonstrate their talent, as a fantastic lunch was served in the hangar and the children kept happy with ice cream and biscuit decorating!

The flight deck was cleared for a demonstration of fire-fighting led by Chief Shipwright (or ‘Chippy’) Petty Officer Elkington. Full fire-fighting suits and cumbersome breathing apparatus was worn despite the heatwave.

Press Release, July 31, 2013; Image: UK Navy