Royal Navy’s new survey ship Magpie makes her maiden visit to Salcombe

Photo: Royal Navy

The Royal Navy’s newest survey vessel HMS Magpie has made her maiden visit to her affiliated town of Salcombe. 

The 18-meter catamaran has spent three days at sea under the White Ensign for the first time as her crew get to know how the survey ship handles.

A replacement for HMS Gleaner which retired earlier in 2018 after 35 years’ service, Magpie was commissioned in June.

The newbuild is the first of several new small craft the RN is acquiring to replacing aging work/support boats.

Among the craft to be exchanged, the blue picket boats at Dartmouth, so cadets at Britannia Royal Navy College were eager to look around when Magpie debuted on the Dart.

“We’re 14 weeks from passing out and to see the opportunities that are provided with the new vessels that are coming into the fleet, at one end of the spectrum you’ve got Magpie and the other end you’ve got HMS Queen Elizabeth. The survey potential within the Royal Navy is really exciting,” Officer Cadet Jacob Gibson, BRNC Dartmouth, said.

Magpie spent two days on the Dart before visiting Salcombe.

It’s Magpie’s task to survey the places other parts of the RN Hydrographic Squadron cannot reach thanks to her size and shallow draft.

That chiefly means updating charts of UK ports, harbours and waterways – in the final months of her life, for example, Gleaner was used extensively to survey the exit from Rosyth… allowing Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to safely leave to begin her sea trials in the summer of 2017.

In addition, she acts as an extra pair of eyes in home waters for anything untoward happening.

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