A sailor on HMS Mersey’s bridge wing hails the tanker in the mid-Atlantic as the two ships trade places on Caribbean patrol duties, with the support ship relieving the patrol vessel after six months in the region.
The captain and senior officers from RFA Wave Knight headed across to Mersey, where Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Richard Hewitt briefed them on the latest challenges they’ll face in the second half of 2016.
Mersey’s focus has largely been drug-busting duties, mixed with visiting British territories in the region and generally flying the flag for the UK in the Americas and Caribbean.
All of which Wave Knight – 18 times bigger than Mersey – will be expected to do, plus wade in to provide humanitarian aid (hurricane season has now begun) should communities be stricken by natural disaster.
Normally found making sure fishermen stick to international quotas around the UK, Mersey became the second of the three-strong Fishery Protection Squadron to break the shackles of the Old World and head to west to the Caribbean, following HMS Severn which did the same last year.
“After six busy months away from the UK, HMS Mersey has visited all but one of the UK Overseas Territories, conducted training and exercises with the region’s coastguards and navies, carried out counter-narcotics patrols across the Caribbean, resulting in a £12m bust, and hosted key defence engagements in Central America.
“As I hand over Atlantic Patrol Task North duties to RFA Wave Knight, I wish them a successful deployment in support of the international effort to stem the flow of narcotics in to the region.”
Captain Peter Selby RFA, Wave Knight’s Commanding Officer, responded: “Having completed our training and pre-deployment preparations only last week, it has been very beneficial to meet up with HMS Mersey to fully understand what we can expect in the coming months.
“All onboard are looking forward to a busy period of defence engagement and countering the illegal narcotics trade during our time on station.”
RFA Wave Knight (A389) is a Wave Knight-class fast fleet tanker. She was launched in 2000 by the Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering firm in Barrow (now BAE SYSTEMS) and accepted into service in 2003. She is the second ship to bear this name in RFA service.