Efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and fight the spread of Ebola in Africa have been singled out by Royal Navy commanders as the Senior Service recognises the best ships and units of the past 12 months.
More than a dozen Fleet Effectiveness Trophies are being awarded to surface ships and Royal Marines Units whose actions and efforts in 2014 stood out above and beyond the normal call of duty (the Fleet Air Arm and Submarine Service present their own awards).
RFA Argus – deployed to Freetown for the past two months with 350 sailors, soldiers and airmen as part of Britain’s contribution to efforts to halt the progress of Ebola in Sierra Leone – was singled out as the finest of the 13 support vessels in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s flotilla.
HMS Defender, which just returned to Portsmouth from a seven-month maiden deployment in the Gulf region, where she supported international efforts to strike at the forces of ISIL, has been named the best of the Fleet’s six Type 45 destroyers.
Cream of the crop of 13 Type 23 frigates is HMS Montrose, who also found herself east of Suez keeping pirates and smugglers in check before she was diverted to the eastern Mediterranean to support the United Nations’ operation removing chemical weapons from Syria. Before handing over to destroyer HMS Diamond (rewarded for her prowess in the realm of electronic warfare), Devonport-based Montrose spent a couple of months escorting merchant ships bringing toxic materials out of Syria.
Just for good measure, after returning to the UK in the spring, Montrose was soon dispatched to the Baltic to take part in NATO exercises in the face of increased Russian military activity in the region. Montrose is currently undergoing a major overhaul in Devon to ready her for another 12 years’ service and has barely a dozen crew assigned to her.
But her captain throughout the Syria mission, Commander James Parkin, says the award from Rear Admiral Surface Ships Rear Admiral Tony Radakin is rich reward for the 200 men and women who were under his charge during a hectic and demanding year.
Winning a Fleet Efficiency allows the winning vessels and units to fly a special blue and white flag featuring two hippocampi – symbol of the Surface Fleet.
Press release, Image: US Navy