Mission on high seas for Royal Navy ship HMS Portland

SISTER SHIPS: HMS Portland,  F79, with a Portuguese warship

SISTER SHIPS: HMS Portland, F79, with a Portuguese warship

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

ROYAL Navy ship HMS Portland called into the Portuguese capital on the first stop of its seven month Atlantic patrol.

The ship has close ties with Weymouth and Portland and several local sailors serve on board.

The Plymouth-based Type 23 frigate left HM Naval Base, Devonport to provide protection and reassurance to British interests in the region.

It maintains the continuous Royal Naval presence in the Atlantic.

The Lisbon stop allowed for briefings on the role the ship will undertake to counter the illegal drugs trade off the West African coast.

During the visit the commanding officer took part in a traditional ceremony to celebrate the United Kingdom’s enduring friendship with Portugal.

The ship also hosted a visit by senior NATO officers, and the football team enjoyed a match against the Lisbon Crusaders.

Lisbon is home to the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics), which is an international organisation of European nations, including the UK, responsible for tackling drug trafficking.

Experts from the centre briefed the ship’s command team on her forthcoming counter narcotics mission.

The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty was signed in 1373 and to celebrate the UK’s lengthy relationship with the country, Commander Sarah West followed the tradition of nailing a brass plaque bearing the ship’s name onto a barrel of rum.

Following this, a delegation from the NATO Naval Striking and Support Forces led by the Deputy Commander of STRIKEFORNATO, Rear Admiral Tim Lowe visited Portland for a briefing on the ship’s capability.

As part of the visit the group toured HMS Portland and also enjoyed a traditional English meal of fish and chips.

Rear Admiral Lowe said: “HMS Portland is an extremely capable warship and I wish her well on her forthcoming deployment.”

The ship’s football team enjoyed a 5-2 victory over local side Lisbon Crusaders.

Man of the match was HMS Portland’s Able Seaman John Maher, 24, from Liverpool.

As part of this exercise HMS Portland hosted Portuguese sailors, whilst a number of Portland’s sailors were able to experience an afternoon at sea on the NRP Corte-Real.

Able Seaman Ross Clarke, 21, from Glasgow, said: “Lisbon was my first foreign visit with the Royal Navy and I enjoyed the opportunity to explore the historic city.

“I was also fortunate to spend an afternoon at sea onboard the Corte-Real and experience the similarities between how the Royal and Portuguese navies operate.”

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