Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Portland is currently in Simonstown, South Africa, where the crew started their month-long break during a nine-month deployment.
After adding 18,000 miles to her odometer in a patrol which has taken the frigate from Plymouth, through the Mediterranean, Suez and Strait of Hormuz, into the Gulf, then out again into the Indian Ocean and down Africa’s east coast, the ship has completed the first half of a nine-month tour of duty.
The emphasis in the first stage has been working with allies and supporting the international naval effort trying to stop smuggling, trafficking, gun-running and terrorism.
Making her way down Africa’s eastern seaboard, Portland stopped in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Durban in South Africa. The visits covered a range of activity from training a Tanzanian law enforcement detachment in counter-narcotic techniques to hosting a port development conference.
The focus for the next month alongside in Simonstown – home of the South African Navy – switches to looking after the people and the ship.
The 200 crew are granted two weeks at home with their families whilst the Ship will receive a fresh lick of paint and some work on her innards and machinery.
The time in South Africa will also provide the sailors and Royal Marines aboard with opportunities to conduct adventurous training activities such as shark diving, mountain biking and surfing.
“This has been a busy deployment so far and has tested the full range of our capabilities,” said the frigate’s Commanding Officer Capt Paul Stroude.
“Whilst we are pleased to be in South Africa, and very much looking forward to seeing our families, we are very much focused on preparing for the second half of our deployment.”
Once the break is complete, Portland resumes her patrol but with the emphasis on the South Atlantic.
She’s due home around Easter next year.