Two of the Royal UK Navy’s survey ships have traded places as the 18-month scientific mission of HMS Echo draws to a close while HMS Enterprise’s begins.
The sister ships spent five days in Catania in Sicily for an official handover of duties allowing HMS Enterprise to go east of Suez and continue Echo’s previous work.
The latter has spent more than 12 months in the Middle East gathering data and helping to update Admiralty Charts – used not just by the Royal Navy, but most of the world’s mariners.
This work will be continued by HMS Enterprise which has already had an eventful opening few weeks to her lengthy tour of duty. Earlier this month, and not long after she left Plymouth, she twice evacuated British citizens from Tripoli as the security situation in Libya became increasingly unstable.
HMS Enterprise’s sailors shared those experiences with their counterparts on HMS Echo who, in turn, shared their knowledge on surveying waters of the Gulf and Indian Ocean.
She too made the TV bulletins and front pages earlier this year when she joined the international search for missing Malaysian airliner MH370 using her specialist survey equipment on board.
To sustain both Devonport-based ships on their extended deployment, two thirds of the crew of 72 are aboard at any one time with the remaining 24 sailors at home on leave or undergoing courses in the UK.