UK: HMS Montrose Welcomes Fleet Commander on Board
Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral (VAdm) Philip A Jones CB visited the Devonport-based frigate, HMS Montrose, at sea whilst deployed on Op KIPION; the UK’s primary deterrence and presence patrol in the Middle East.
At the time of the visit HMS Montrose was operating alongside other UK units, namely HMS Bulwark, Illustrious, Echo, Royal Fleet Auxiliary Diligence, the four permanently-based mine hunting vessels and ships from the United Arab Emirates, all of whom were conducting a major joint exercise in the region, Exercise Sea Khanjar.
The Fleet Commander took the opportunity to view HMS Montrose’s participation from the Operations room, the Ships Control Centre and the Galley, witnessing first-hand the professionalism and competence of the crew, when interacting with Middle Eastern allies in an operational environment.
During his visit, the Fleet Commander was particularly keen to engage with the Ship’s Company, taking time to listen to individual and collective views from front line unit personnel. The discussions included a wide range of topics, covering the future of wider Navy business, as well as current operations.
Leading Chef Legge, one of the senior Junior Ratings on board, said,
“The visit was well received by the Junior Ratings. The chance to talk to the Fleet Commander on a one to one basis was a rare opportunity and we felt privileged to have been able to put our views and concerns forward to such a high level of naval command.”
“The main topic of conversation was that of the future of manning within the Royal Navy, which included the challenges the Royal Navy face by introducing the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth and the manning of HMS Ocean in a Navy that is already stretched. He was very keen to hear our views on the current operational tempo for sea going units.”
After his conversations in the Junior Rates Dining Hall, VAdm Jones met the ship’s Senior Ratings and Senior Non Commissioned Officers, where he was able to gauge the opinions of those with many years of experience on the current and future plans for the service.
After meeting VAdm Jones, Chief Petty Officer Sinclair, one of the Chief Weapons Engineering Technicians, said,
“The Warrant Officers’ and Chief Petty Officers’ Mess were delighted to host the Fleet Commander for a Senior Ratings forum.
“It proved a welcome opportunity to engage with Royal Navy’s second in command over a broad range of topics, ranging from Future Navy 2020 to the current immediate challenges facing today’s Service.”
“The exchange was both constructive and enlightening, culminating in an appreciative message from VAdm Jones recognising the contribution HMS Montrose is making to operations in this part of the world.”
The whistle stop visit concluded with lunch in the Wardroom, during which a wide rang e of topics were covered with many of the officers on board, including the aspiration of one Sub Lieutenant to be the most junior officer ever to become a Younger Brother of Trinity House (a position that the Fleet Commander achieved once promoted to Rear Admiral).
After lunch the Fleet Commander boarded one of HMS Montrose’s sea-boats and was transferred to RFA Diligence, the Forward Repair Ship, to conduct further visits in the region.
Commander James Parkin, the Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, said,
“It was an honour and a pleasure to embark VAdm Jones for a short but worthwhile visit.
“It proved to be a fantastic opportunity for my sailors to ask him important and challenging questions in an informal environment and all involved made the most of a rare opportunity of a one to one chat with such a senior officer.”
Press Release, October 15, 2013; Image: Royal Navy