The Royal Navy’s smallest ships which are used to give university students a taste of life in the Senior Service have been sailing round the Baltics for their summer deployment.
Four of the 16 patrol boats are flying the flag for Britain and the Royal Navy in ports, towns, islands and cities UK warships rarely visit.
HMS Pursuer, Biter, Explorer and Trumpeter which serve the University Royal Navy Units based at Glasgow, Manchester, Hull and Cambridge universities respectively, leave the UK for a couple of months each year, giving ten students at a time an extended naval experience.
These four boats represented Britain at Kiel Week – the world’s biggest and most famous yachting event – before continuing east into the heart of the Baltic.
In just two weeks, the quartet then visited seven countries – Germany, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.
The boats’ size – just 68ft long – means the patrol boats can visit ports that are off limits to other Royal Navy vessels visiting the Baltic.
So as well as major cities like Malmö, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki, the boats have called in at Pärnu, Kihnu, Kuressaare in the Gulf of Riga and the island of Naissaar just off the Estonian capital.
The four craft have been escorted by Finnish and Estonian Navy patrol boats, flown over by Polish Air Force Search and Rescue aircraft, and their crews invited aboard a Lithuanian minehunter in Klaipėda.
The patrol boats form part of First Patrol Boat Squadron which is based at HMNB Portsmouth.
Image: Royal Navy