Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset celebrated Christmas a week early this year, taking advantage in a brief pause from operational tasking to engage in seasonal festivities on Sunday 18 December 2011.
HMS Somerset is working under Combined Maritime Forces as part of a task force which patrols the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.
The early Christmas for her crew day commenced with a Christmas multi-denomination church service. The congregation sang with praise and celebrated the occasion, sending prayers and wishes to families and loved ones back home.
The ship’s ‘church officer’, Lieutenant Commander Charlie Barrow (also the ship’s gunnery officer) led the service for the assembled ship’s company of all ranks and specialisations.
The next order of the day was for Christmas lunch and, in the finest traditions of the Navy, the officers of the wardroom donned their aprons and set upon carving and serving (and clearing up!) the meal for the ship’s company.
The Captain took the important role of carving the turkey and portions were distributed under the watchful eye of the ‘Pusser/Scrooge’ (logistics officer). The food was good and well received, even those who had committed to getting fit for the deployment couldn’t resist the flavoursome treat.
Drawing the day to a close a slightly heftier ship’s company then tuned their voices ready for the carol service. The sailors were not shy in celebrating the occasion and raised the deckhead in the Junior Rates’ Dining Hall.
In preparation for the arrival of Father Christmas a team of sailors made sure the ship’s chimney (funnel) cover was removed for access into the ship ready for Christmas Eve.
Somerset’s Commanding Officer, Commander Paul Bristowe said:
“It is to be expected at this time of year that a ship’s company who have been deployed since the summer will miss friends and family at home more then usual. Christmas serves to galvanise the team spirit onboard and remind us that there are many who are less well off than ourselves.”
Somerset is deployed as part of a multi-national endeavour to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities. The principal mission is to deter, disrupt and defeat such actions.
Throughout Somerset’s deployment her ship’s company will continue to promote stable and cooperative relationships with nations with whom she has contact. However, she will remain at readiness to respond to any tasking.
Naval Today Staff , December 23, 2011; Image: mod