HMS Montrose Joins Fight Against Plastic In Pacific


Plastic debris litters the shoreline of Pitcairn (Pictures: Royal Navy).

HMS Montrose has been recording the pollution on four Pacific islands.

All four islands - Pitcairn, Dulcie, Oneo and Henderson - are under British rule in the Pacific.

Montrose left the UK last October to begin a three-year global deployment.

These islands are protected under international law, which protects them from illegal fishing and pollution. 

However, this hasn't protected the island from masses of debris reaching their shorelines.

Upwards of 40 million items of plastic and rubbish have been washed ashore on the uninhabited Henderson Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is about the size of Oxford; the ocean deposits up to 270 objects on its beaches every day.

Henderson lies in the middle of the South Pacific and is part of the Pitcairn Island Group, the only British Overseas Territories in this ocean.

Pitcairn is the only one of the four where human life can be found with a population of 52 people, mostly of who descended from the mutineers who took charge of the Bounty and scuttled the ship here in 1790.

HMS Montrose War Against Plastic
A mutiny on the Royal Navy vessel HMS Bounty occurred in the south Pacific on 28 April 1789. (Picture Royal Navy).

Nearly 230 years later HMS Montrose anchored in the same spot, Bounty Bay.

One hundred sailors and Royal Marines, which is half the ships company, had the rare opportunity to get ashore in long boats crewed by the islanders.

A White Ensign has not been flown in Pitcairn since September 2000, when HMS Sutherland visited during a world tour.

The crew took the chance to learn about the history of the island, the Bounty and the mutiny in the island’s museum and pick up some souvenirs.

After enjoying islanders’ hospitality, the ship returned the favour; 20 Pitcairn residents were given a tour of the ship, before joining sailors for a brew on the flight deck.

The next stop for HMS Montrose is New Zealand, 3,200 miles away across the water.