Royal Navy frigate wraps up seven-month Asia Pacific deployment

Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland returned to her homeport at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport on August 10, concluding a seven-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific.

HMS Sutherland at sea. Photo: Royal Navy

Sutherland and her crew got underway on January 9, becoming the first Royal Navy vessel to operate in Asia Pacific in recent years.

On her final stop en route home, Sutherland took an opportunity to embark Parents and Children (PACAS) in Gibraltar to enable them to see what their sons or fathers do and experience life at sea.

On her way home, the frigate also escorted two Sandown-class minehunters, HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton, both returning from a three-year deployment to the Persian Gulf.

Sutherland’s marathon-deployment saw the frigate make port calls in Australia – where she championed UK defense industry and helped BAE Systems bag the multi-billion contract to build new frigates for the Australian Navy.

After several stops in Australian ports and a major exercise off the east coast of Australia, Sutherland headed for Yokosuka, Japan, where she underwent mid-deployment maintenance before continuing her tasking. After visits and exercises in Japan, the crew sailed to South Korea for port calls.

In Singapore, HMS Sutherland hosted UK defense minister Gavin Williamson who attended the Shangri La security dialogue which took place in Singapore early June. The defense minister announced that French and Royal Navy ships would visit Singapore prior to sailing together for a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. Williamson did not specify which warships would be assigned the task nor which disputed territory the warships would patrol.

There were no reports and no official confirmation on HMS Sutherland conducting a South China Sea freedom of navigation patrol.

HMS Sutherland’s return to European waters was announced in late July by the Royal Navy First Sea Lord, Admiral Philip Jones, who praised the “Fighting Clan” – as the frigate is affectionately – for her action.

“In this year of expanding maritime horizons, HMS Sutherland has been a prominent part of our global presence. As she returns to the UK, HMS Albion and HMS Argyll are continuing vital security ops and engagement with our international partners on the other side of the Globe,” the First Sea Lord commented.