HMS Campbeltown in double sea rescue

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Royal Navy Type 22 frigate HMS Campbeltown recently came to the rescue of members of the public in difficulty at sea during two separate incidents on the same day.

While operating off Plymouth, the ship was alerted by Brixham Coastguard and sped to the aid of a young family in a motorboat which had lost power and was being sent onto the rocky shore surrounding Mewstone Rock.

The relieved family and their motorboat were towed by one of the ship’s two embarked rescue boats before being handed over to the Plymouth inshore lifeboat for a return to safety.

Commander Keri Harris, the Commanding Officer of Devonport-based HMS Campbeltown, said:

It was fortunate HMS Campbeltown could respond so quickly and the stricken family was clearly relieved to see us arrive in the nick of time.

We were helped immensely by Brixham Coastguard whose officers share our local knowledge and with whom we could pinpoint the incident.

Later the same day HMS Campbeltown was visiting Falmouth when a member of the crew, Able Seaman (AB) Richard Hunter, made a bold rescue, jumping into the sea to save a young woman who fell from the town quay. He returned the injured woman to shore where Falmouth Police took over with medical help.

HMS Campbeltown is one of the Royal Navy’s four Devonport-based Type 22 frigates which are being decommissioned under the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The frigate was built by Cammell Laird shipbuilders in Birkenhead and was launched on 7 October 1987, entering service on 27 May 1989.

The name HMS Campbeltown has a distinguished record of Royal Navy service, with honours for the Battle of the Atlantic, 1941-1942, and Operation CHARIOT at St Nazaire in 1942, often referred to as ‘the greatest raid of all’ as it had the largest number of Victoria Cross medals awarded for a single operation. The ship’s last port of call before her return to Plymouth was St Nazaire in France, a visit which coincided with the greatest raid’s 69th anniversary.

At Falmouth, the ship embarked a group of veteran commandos who had been involved in Op CHARIOT, and set sail for St Nazaire, where the ship’s company joined the Anglo-French ceremonies to commemorate this remarkable and heroic military action - a poignant curtain call for the ship before she returned to Devonport for the last time yesterday, Thursday 31 March.

HMS Campbeltown (stock image)
HMS Campbeltown (stock image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Pete Smith, Crown Copyright/MOD 2007]

The final entry into Devonport was a moving and reflective moment for serving and former members of HMS Campbeltown’s ship’s company, especially so because of her proud history.

There has been no let-up in the warship’s busy programme, despite her imminent retirement. Commander Harris is convinced this has helped cushion the crew from the emotion of having to leave the ship:

We have been able to operate at sea with a tangible output, training the many specialists who encompass the Navy’s wide operational remit,” he said.

Now we are faced with the reality of decommissioning HMS Campbeltown and disbanding her close-knit crew, which was never going to be easy.” The ship’s return marks the start of a number of key decommissioning activities including an official decommissioning ceremony this month.

The ship has recently been involved in training a host of future pilots, navigators, submariners, warfare officers and officer cadets from Britannia Royal Naval College, whilst contributing to the security of our home waters.

HMS Campbeltown has provided 22 years of service to the Royal Navy, employed on operations around the globe in times of conflict, and also contributing to anti-piracy, anti-narcotics and humanitarian operations and the protection of British Overseas Territories.