The Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo has picked up the baton where sister ship HMS Enterprise left off to begin her second 18-month deployment in three years.
The ship sailed from the South West after HMS Enterprise returned to Plymouth from nine months away to spend the next year and a half updating charts of the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean, as its did on her previous 18-month tour of duty.
HMS Echo slipped its moorings in Falmouth to return to waters its crew knows well – the ship’s second 18-month deployment in three years which ended last summer.
That mission saw it find previously unknown and potentially dangerous natural features, in particular in the Red Sea, and wrecks in the Mediterranean and an historic first visit to Tripoli since the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
Since completing that first 18-month deployment HMS Echo has undergone a revamp, followed by training which included two weeks in the Joint Warrior exercise off north-west Scotland, a spot of maintenance in Falmouth – which has become a second home to the Devonport-based hydrographic ships.
HMS Echo’s Executive Officer (second-in-command) Lieutenant Commander Karen Fyfe said:
“This deployment is what we’ve been working towards and presents an exciting opportunity for the ship’s company to demonstrate and employ the skills they have developed over the past year in an operational environment.”
The passage to the Mediterranean will be a testing one and not merely because of the sometimes stormy waters of the Bay of Biscay.
On board HMS Echo for the first part of the deployment is a team of assessors testing the ability of the crew to deal with various damage-control exercise scenarios such as fire and flood simulations – basically the things they do not want happening on a ship.
Although HMS Echo will be away for 18 months, the sailors will be rotated off the ship to enjoy given leave and time for training with one third of the sailors changed every few weeks.
Press Release, June 12, 2013; Image: UK Navy