Picture of Company Crest

HMS Mersey Visit

Chris Dancaster report of visit to HMS Mersey by PM Chris Dancaster, Assistant Ken McLean and Liverymen David Aikman and David Canning.

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By the kind invitation of Lieutenant Commander George Storton of HMS Mersey four members of the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators enjoyed a most enjoyable day in Portsmouth on 28th February 2018. The visit was made by PM Chris Dancaster, Assistant Ken McLean (who is our liaison with the ship), and Liverymen David Aikman and David Canning.

The plan was to transfer to Mersey at anchor in Spithead and watch various manoeuvres in company with her sister ship HMS Tyne, the affiliated ship of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. Unfortunately the weather conditions were such that it was deemed too dangerous to make the transfer after a number of members of the Butchers had transferred to Tyne. We returned to the Dockyard passing the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth which looked enormous from water level (albeit not so large when looked down on from the upper deck of a Brittany Ferry!)

On regaining the dockside we were immediately invited to have a tour of HMS Forth, the first of five new ships known rather prosaically as “Batch 2 River Class Patrol Vessels” being delivered to the Fishery Protection Squadron over the next two years.  HMS Forth is earmarked to take over from HMS Clyde as the Falkland Islands patrol vessel.

She had been taken over by the Navy on Tuesday 27th February so the ship was a hive of activity and we were very privileged to be allowed to disturb what was clearly an intensely important period for the new ship and its crew. The new ships are 11 metres longer than HMS Mersey, they have uprated accommodation and have a four knot advantage in top speed at 24 knots. They will be used for many of the functions that are currently the province of larger vessels.

After our tour of HMS Forth we walked along the dockside to where HMS Mersey had returned and we were pleased to see that she was flying the Arbitrator’s Company flag in honour of our visit. We were entertained to an excellent lunch during which we were very well looked after in particular by Lieutenant Alexandra Karavla, Mersey’s Executive Officer. The chef had excelled himself, we have no doubt that he would have been exceedingly disappointed had the ship not returned to dock and we had had to lunch elsewhere.

We were also delighted to renew the acquaintance with Commander Sarah Oakley, now Commander of the Fishery Protection Squadron, who entertained us at Mersey’s 10th Anniversary celebrations in 2013 in Liverpool when she was CO.

Lunch was followed by a tour of the ship which made quite clear how much of an improvement the Batch 2 ships are. This included a tour of the bridge and the crew’s accommodation, a demonstration of the small arms that are a part of the ship’s armament and a damage control demonstration which included fire fighting and dealing with hull damage.  

An excellent day despite the weather conditions.

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