HMS Edinburgh visits South Africa

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

HMS Edinburgh and her ship's company recently visited Cape Town on a two-week maintenance stop during patrol operations in the South Atlantic.

Naval airmen from the Portsmouth-based destroyer’s embarked Lynx helicopter had the opportunity to take in stunning views of Table Mountain while the ship underwent maintenance at the main South African naval base in Simon’s Town.

HMS Edinburgh will now cross the Atlantic to South America; the third such crossing since the Type 42 destroyer left the UK.

During her time in maintenance, following two months of maritime security operations and patrols around the British Forces South Atlantic Islands, Edinburgh’s crew paid their respects to the dead of the two world wars, flew helicopter exercises and rested with visiting friends and family.

The ship’s Lynx helicopter and its crew, from 815 Naval Air Squadron, visited the South African Air Force (SAAF) base at Ysterplaat. A day was also spent flying with the SAAF’s Super Lynx, incorporating low level flying, formation flying, mountain flying and confined area landings.

HMS Edinburgh's Lynx flies past Table Mountain in Cape Town
HMS Edinburgh's Lynx flies past Table Mountain in Cape Town [Picture: 22 Squadron, South African Air Force 2011]

Heavy South Atlantic seas often limit flying opportunities during the passage west, so the opportunity to fly near Cape Town was well appreciated by the airmen.

Towards the end of the visit, Edinburgh’s Commanding Officer, Commander Paul Russell, and several members of the crew, including a six-man guard, conducted a wreath-laying ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Dido Valley - the final resting place of many British servicemen and women stationed in Simon’s Town during the First and Second World Wars.

Commander Russell said:

The South Atlantic is a harsh environment in which to operate. Extreme low temperatures and significant sea states all take their toll on our equipment, so a period of engineering in a well-founded port like Simon’s Town is key to ensuring that we are in good material state for the remainder of our deployment.

In addition, the South African Navy hosted a tri-nation sports day with the Royal Navy and the visiting German Navy. Edinburgh’s rugby and football teams put in solid performances but lost to the South Africans.

HMS Edinburgh has been deployed on Atlantic Patrol Task (South) since May 2011.

En route to the South Atlantic she has conducted a number of high profile regional visits including Luanda in Angola.

Since arriving in the South Atlantic she has provided support and reassurance to the British Overseas Territories there.