Royal Navy survey ship completes three-year deployment

HMS Enterprise returning to HMNB Devonport on April 18. Photo: Twitter/HMSEnterprise

Royal Navy survey ship HMS Enterprise returned to her homeport in Plymouth on April 18 completing a three-year deployment that took her across the world.

The crew served on a rotational shift basis during the three years, meaning two thirds of the 78 ship’s company have been on board at any one time.

HMS Enterprise was at the heart of operations to prevent people smuggling in the Mediterranean. She evacuated more than 200 British citizens from Libya, rescued 9,180 people attempting to undertake deadly crossings of the Mediterranean and destroyed 117 unseaworthy vessels used by people traffickers.

In almost three years, she has steamed across the world, covered 150,000 nautical miles, visited 20 countries, and navigated four seas while conducting maritime security operations, protecting Britain’s economy and rescuing people in danger.

The ship entered Plymouth flying an efficiency pennant – an award given to the ship last year and granted special permission to fly the pennant on her return home.

“The crew of HMS Enterprise are justly proud of the work they have done since deploying, and the wide variety of operations will be hard to match in the rest of our careers,” said Commander Philip Harper, the ship’s Commanding Officer.

“The results of our deployment speak for themselves and we are all eager to spend some time with our families before the ship deploys again later this year.”

HMS Enterprise’s deployment began in June 2014, when she headed to the Mediterranean on maritime security operations. At the time, growing unrest in Libya led to the UK government encouraging British citizens to evacuate, and Enterprise was tasked with rescuing more than 200 people from Tripoli.

She was then tasked with conducting survey operations in the Gulf and southern Red Sea, joining the continuous Royal Navy presence in the region.

Those on board had opportunities to visit 33 ports, including Goa in India and Port Victoria in the Seychelles.

In 2015, Enterprise joined the naval force in the Mediterranean which was set up to deal with people smuggling in the region. Over the course of the following year, the sailors on board destroyed 117 unseaworthy craft and rescued 9,180 people attempting to make deadly crossings – the highest number of people ever to be rescued by a Royal Navy ship.

She also surveyed some 2,600nm2 of the ocean floor, was awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace, the Naval Capability Prize and the HM Efficiency Award, as well as receiving a personal commendation from the Chief of the Defence Staff.

The survey ship’s work in the Mediterranean also led to 20 suspected smuggling ringleaders being identified and subsequently arrested by Italian authorities.

Following the Mediterranean stint, Enterprise headed to the South Atlantic to stand in for Falkland Islands patrol vessel HMS Clyde during her refit in South Africa.

“Having successfully mastered integrating with the Italians and other EU partners, the ship now had to integrate with the RAF and the Army,” said Navigating Officer Lieutenant Kyle O’Regan.

“A very busy time followed, conducting training with Typhoon aircraft, winching with Chinook helicopters and still managing to fit in some survey operations.’’

The visit also allowed Enterprise to strike out for South Georgia, and after a choppy three-day journey across 800 miles of open sea, the ship’s company reached Gold Harbour.

HMS Enterprise deploys again in July this year.

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