HMS Montrose has visited Ascension Island as part of her mission to promote British interests in the South Atlantic over the coming months.
The island has always had very strong links with the military ever since HMS Zenobia and HMS Peruvian first anchored in English Roads in 1815; these strong military links continue today with Ascension supporting the airbridge which provides the vital link between the United Kingdom and British forces in the South Atlantic.
Launching her Lynx helicopter for a dawn patrol of the island’s waters, Montrose dropped anchor a few hours later in the crystal clear waters just off Georgetown; the first Royal Navy warship to do so since 2006.
Commanding Officer Commander Jonathan Lett then flew ashore to call on Her Majesty’s representative, His Honour the Administrator, Mr Colin Wells.
Meanwhile, at Wideawake Airfield (RAF Ascension Island) the task of transferring personnel, 600kg of essential spares and 16kg of mail out to the ship was undertaken in short order using the Lynx.
The aim of the visit was to maximise interaction with the civilian rather than the military community and groups from both Two Boats School and the 1st Ascension Island Scout Group took boat tours around the ship at anchor, led by Montrose’s sailors.
While on the island members of the ship’s company also took the opportunity to undertake the ‘Dew Pond Run’.
Led by the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Peter Laughton, intrepid members of the ship’s company were transferred ashore ready to undertake this arduous challenge.
At around eight miles (13km), and rising from sea level up to 2,817 feet (858m), the run snakes from the island’s shore in Georgetown, through the tropical vegetation of Green Mountain, up to the Dew Pond at the top.
40 of the runners reached the finish line, with Able Seaman Specialist Harris and Able Seaman (AB) Communications and Information Systems Specialist Maher coming joint first in a time of 1 hour 25 minutes, and ABs Wilson and Burge not far behind having carried a 25kg Bergan the length of the course.
The run would not have been possible without the superb support of the local police and medics who were on hand to ensure it went smoothly.
The race is normally only run twice a year but this additional event was arranged especially for HMS Montrose. Speaking as the runners recovered at the summit of Green Mountain, Lieutenant Commander Laughton commented:
This is the second time I have undertaken the Dew Pond Run; I was last here in 2006 with HMS Edinburgh.
This time we have had almost double the number of runners and I am thrilled that such a large number of the ship’s company have risen to the challenge; it is another fantastic example of the Montrose spirit in action.
While the runners were battling their way to the summit of Green Mountain, Commander Lett welcomed His Honour the Administrator, members of the Island Council and key figures from the local community on board HMS Montrose.
They were given a tour of the ship, focusing on the range of flexible capabilities she has to offer, before discussing the varied nature of the current deployment with the ship’s officers over afternoon tea. Reflecting on the visit, Commander Lett said:
It was always my aspiration to visit every one of the British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic Ocean during the course of this deployment; this has started with Ascension where we received an incredibly warm welcome from the civilian community.