In weather more typically found in her native waters off the South Coast, HMS Montrose was reunited with an old friend – HMS Marlborough – as she took part in 200th birthday celebrations of Chile’s Navy.
Marlborough, now flying the Chilean flag as Almirante Condel, was one of four vessels which linked up with the Plymouth-based warship as they made for the port of Valparaíso, hosting the bicentennial events.
The second Gulf War veteran was sold to Chile with HM Ships Grafton and Norfolk – all of which continue to serve in the South American navy.
Montrose, which is heading for Bahrain ‘the wrong way around the world’ (crossing the Atlantic and Pacific) to begin a three-year mission in the Middle East, met up with Almirante Condel, American assault ship USS Somerset, destroyer USS Wayne E Meyer and a second Chilean frigate, CNS Capitan Prat.
“This was an excellent opportunity for us to work with our allies and cement relationships ahead of our visit to Chile to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Chilean Navy.”
Commander Conor O’Neill RN
The day saw a number of serials completed, including Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres, where the ships conducted various manoeuvres in close quarters with each other, followed by a photoshoot to capture the events.
An exchange of personnel also took place which saw an officer and senior rating from USS Somerset join Montrose for a few hours, while two members of Montrose’s ship’s company headed in the opposite direction courtesy of the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter.
“With HMS Somerset being a former ship of mine, it was a poignant exchange for me,” said weapons engineer Chief Petty Officer Darren Richards.
“I was most impressed by their Hospital Facilities. And it was extremely satisfying watching the successful firing of our automatic small calibre guns from the bridge of the USS Somerset.”
The shooting saw ships taking it in turn to fire on a ‘killer tomato’ target (a large red inflatable), which allowed each ship to demonstrate its close-range gunnery systems and ability to operate together in close vicinity, successfully sinking the target in the end.
“This was an excellent opportunity for us to work with our allies and cement relationships ahead of our visit to Chile to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Chilean Navy,” said Montrose’s Commanding Officer Commander Conor O’Neill.
Images and words: Crown copyright Navy.