Picture of Company Crest

Master's sea trip on HMS Mersey

It has become a tradition for the Master to go to sea with HMS Mersey to meet the crew and better understand the role of our affiliated ship. I had the privilege of going to sea from Ramsgate on Monday 4th. July 2011 at 18.00 in a RIB (rubber inshore boat) with Commander Fish, a Trainer and returning crew. I returned to Portsmouth alongside on Thursday 7th July 2011.

There are 3 half watches on HMS Mersey and at any time 2 are on board and 1 on shore. I went on HMS Mersey with the red and blue watches the white watch was on shore. This means there is a fair bit of overlapping of duties and multitasking by crew members who were all very professional, skilled, good humoured and disciplined. I had a tour of the ship with XL (the First Lft) after a safety briefing and Daily Orders were issued. Dinner at the invitation of the XL included the CO and me in the Ward Room.

Pipes woke the Ship's Company at 6am the following morning and I reported to the Wardroom for breakfast, I was issued with boots and white overalls. My day started at 0800 with a tour with the Chief Engineer (MEO) of the machinery spaces and then a tour of the weapons with the Chief Weapons officer (WEO). At 1000 there was time for a brief cup of coffee with the Junior Ratings slightly interrupted by the CO demonstrating the manouverability of HMS Mersey using both engines and the Bow Thruster without too much warnings only one cup was broken.

Then another tour of the ship looking at its operational versatility and fishery duties which ended at 1300 in the Ward Room. The lunch with MP Richard Benyon did not materialise as he was still boarding a trawler and counting fish as part of his day trip. He was certainly shown the raw side of work and went back better informed in time for the MOD budget but I missed this opportunity to put a viewpoint to him however the Company covered this subsequently with submissions to Downing Street. After an exciting period on the Bridge starting at 1430 including ship driving it was time for dinner with the Senior Ratings mess at 1900.

On Wednesday 6th July 2011 after a 0700 breakfast it was time to get back into dry suits and some sea boat driving, where I earned my own Pennant, it was Fire Drill and setting alight the rubbish store and watching the 3 waves of fire fighting detail put it out in style. A quick lunch in the Ward Room then off to Galley detail with a former leading seaman prizewinner, LS(CIS) Pugh. Cooking is not one of my skills resembling Cor d'on Noir rather than Bleau. However after 1.5 buckets of onions and 1 bucket of potatoes and dealing with 14 chickens and frying the Pop-A-Doms in bulk at 45 degrees in a Force 8 I think my skills have improved a little. Dealing with chicken and mixing the spices qualified me to choose the film for the "Film and Curry" night that evening as long as I ate the first portion of Chicken Korma. Unimaginatively I choose Master and Commander. We entered Portsmouth Harbour and weighed anchor.

My last day meant early Pipes and breakfast at 0600 to appear in Cocktail dress and Chain on the Bridge at 0700 to play host to British Aerospace who own HMS Mersey and the Home Security Agency with a view to considering future shared duties. Hi-Speed Manoeuvres, boat ops and quick draw were skilfully demonstrated before pulling alongside exactly on time for a buffet lunch in the Ward Room and farewell to the CO, XL, CEO, CMO, Navs, Guns, and all those magnificent sailors. I walked down the gangplank happy to know that I would return on 7th August with the rest of our Company to join again in that very special Ship's Company who do such a vital task at sea for 340 days out of 365 guarding our shores and continuing the Fisheries protection duties started by Henry VII in the finest modern tradition. Unforgettable and I almost wished I had joined the Navy.

Kay Linnell - Master