Patrolling the South Atlantic for 10 years, HMS Clyde and its crew have embarked on one of the longest deployments the Royal Navy has ever had.

A decade on from its patrolling duties in the Falkland Islands, Clyde is now looking to the next 12 months where its set to be replaced by a new ship.

As the maritime presence for Command of British Forces in the Falkland Islands, it has a myriad of different tasks from search and rescue, providing a picture of what is flying around and also medical aid.

On top of this, their duties also include delivering vital equipment to South Georgia for the British Antarctic survey team.

But how does this vessel differ from those in the UK and across the forces world on operations? Captain of HMS Clyde, Lieutenant Commander George Storton, shares its uniqueness.

"At the moment we are an off-shore patrol vessel which is perfect for what we need down here.”

“We are a medium sized ship designed for the theatre we’re in. We’re quite individual. We don’t have huge complicated weapon systems on board because at the moment we don’t need them. The technical expertise we would need is quite significant."

HMS Clyde

The Senior Service isn’t the only division of the armed forces in the South Atlantic that are deployed here as the Falkland Islands are truly a tri-service contingency made up of Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force who HMS Clyde regularly open their doors to.

“It’s important for us because we can get a little forgotten about being six miles away from Mount Pleasant Complex, so we like to open the ship and give people a tour.

"Some people may come on a deployment like this to the Falklands and they’ve never really worked with the Navy. 

"We like to give people an idea of who we are and what our sailors do on a daily basis. It’s all part of working as a joint force out here.”

One of their favourite tasks in the South Atlantic is visiting the settlements around the island, going to see individual farmers that may not get much contact from military personnel and offering assistance.

HMS Clyde

One of HMS Clyde’s obstacles in the Falkland Island is, of course, the mid-winter weather.

“Undoubtedly one of our biggest challenges is the weather. High winds, freezing conditions.

"When my sailors sail they are full of grit and determination in conditions that take the wind chill factor down to -7 on a regular basis."

"So we need to make sure that they are safe to operate in those conditions and the weather, very much like in aviation, dictates what we do,” says George.

It’s been core business over the last few months with engine maintenance as they look forward to the warmer weather which will allow them to take more trips across the island and back down to South Georgia to see the British Antarctic survey team.

HMS Forth

The next twelve months are set to be even busier for HMS Clyde though as it enters its final stages on deployment.

"It’s a really big year for my ship’s squadron, the fishery protection squadron in the UK. We’re the oldest squadron in the Royal Navy and we’re looking forward to the future.

"The new batch two River-Class Patrol Vessels are coming out of build.

"HMS Forth is in the final stages of build at the moment and we look forward to her coming down in the next twelve months." 

"She’ll take over from HMS Clyde, and Clyde will return to the UK after over a decade outside of UK waters.

"HMS Forth is just slightly more modern but a very similar ship and will take over with a great ship’s company ready to carry on for the next ten years.”

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