Navy

HMS Echo remembers Arctic convoy heroes during sunken WW2 cruiser search

The ship paused in the middle of the Barents Sea to remember the men of Operation Dervish – and the thousands who followed them.

Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo has returned to waters where sailors once faced Nazi bombers and U-boats to pay tribute to the first Arctic convoy 80 years ago.

The Devonport-based ship paused in the middle of the Barents Sea to remember the men of Operation Dervish – and the thousands who followed them, delivering vital aid to the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945.

HMS Echo has been conducting survey work in the High North, including searching for the wreck of one sunken Second World War cruiser and updating existing information about another, HMS Edinburgh, over whose wreck Echo's crew held their service of remembrance.

As HMS Echo's Commanding Officer Commander Adam Coles cast a wreath into the Barents Sea, the Russian cruiser Marshal Ustinov – which was sailing nearby – signalled the Royal Navy vessel in admiration of the men of 1941-45.

The crew of the Ustinov praised a generation that "served with great honour, bravery and determination, in the face of fascist invaders", the Royal Navy said.

"To all those who sacrificed themselves in the fight against our common enemy, the memory of them and our warriors will forever live in our hearts."

HMS Echo's upper deck is dusted with snow 20092021 Credit Royal Navy MOD.jpg
HMS Echo sailing through the Barents Sea (Picture: MOD).

In all, 16 Royal Navy warships were lost and 1,944 Senior Service personnel were killed during the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War.

While 85 of the 1,400 merchant ships which took part in the Arctic runs were sunk, killing 800 merchant sailors.

The vessels delivered four million tonnes of supplies to the Soviet war effort – about one-quarter of the total aid they provided to the USSR between 1941 and 1945.