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Navy salutes its Surface Fleet class of 2014 by naming best ships and units
23 December 2014

Efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and fight the tide of Ebola in Africa have been singled by the Royal Navy’s commanders as it recognises the best ships and units of the past 12 months.

More than a dozen Fleet Effectiveness Trophies are being awarded to surface ships and Royal Marines Units whose actions and efforts in 2014 stood out above and beyond the normal call of duty (the Fleet Air Arm and Submarine Service present their own awards).

Destroyer of the year HMS Defender in company with the USS George H W Bush in the Gulf. Picture: LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum

EFFORTS to bring peace to the Middle East and fight the tide of Ebola in Africa have been singled by the Royal Navy’s commanders as it recognises the best ships and units of the past 12 months.

More than a dozen Fleet Effectiveness Trophies are being awarded to surface ships and Royal Marines Units whose actions and efforts in 2014 stood out above and beyond the normal call of duty (the Fleet Air Arm and Submarine Service present their own awards).

RFA Argus – deployed to Freetown for the past two months with 350 soldiers, sailors and airmen as part of Britain’s contribution to efforts to halt the progress of Ebola in Sierra Leone – was singled out as the finest of the 13 support vessels in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s flotilla.

HMS Defender, which just returned to Portsmouth from a seven-month maiden deployment in the Gulf region, where she supported international efforts to strike at the forces of fundamentalists ISIL, has been named the best of the Fleet’s six Type 45 destroyers.

A Merlin of 820 NAS collects supplies from RFA Argus during the aid mission to help Sierra Leone

Cream of the crop of 13 Type 23 frigates is HMS Montrose, who also found herself east of Suez keeping pirates and smugglers in check before she was diverted to the eastern Mediterranean to support the United Nations’ operation removing chemical weapons from Syria.

Before handing over to destroyer HMS Diamond (rewarded for her prowess in the realm of electronic warfare), Devonport-based Montrose spent a couple of months escorting merchant ships bringing toxic materials out of Syria.

Just for good measure, after returning to the UK in the spring, Montrose was soon dispatched to the Baltic to take part in NATO exercises in the face of increased Russian military activity in the region.

HMS Montrose – the best frigate in the Fleet – escorts a ferry carrying toxic materials from Syria. Picture: LA(Phot) Alex Knott, RNPOTY

Montrose is currently undergoing a major overhaul in Devon to ready her for another 12 years’ service and has barely a dozen crew assigned to her.

But her captain throughout the Syria mission, Commander James Parkin, says the award from Rear Admiral Surface Ships Rear Admiral Tony Radakin is rich reward for the 200 men and women who were under his charge during a hectic and demanding year.

“In a busy and unrelenting year, my team of professional and dedicated sailors never failed to do the job they were asked to do, in demanding circumstances, while keeping smiling, even though they were away from their families for many months at a time.

“Coming on top of the ship’s aviators being awarded the Osprey Trophy for best ship’s flight, I am delighted the rest of the Ship’s Company have been recognised in a similar way, and I am humbled by this accolade being awarded to our fine vessel. 

Best offshore patrol vessel of 2014, HMS Tyne, leaving Faslane. Picture: CPO(Phot) Tam McDonald

“The ‘Class of 2014’, wherever they are now serving, can be proud that all the long hours, hard work, and time away, has been noticed by those for whom we worked.”

In addition to bragging rights and a trophy, winning a Fleet Efficiency allows the winning vessels and units to fly a special blue and white flag featuring two hippocampi – symbol of the Surface Fleet.

The Fleet Effectiveness winners are:

Capital ship: HMS Bulwark

Destroyer: HMS Defender

Frigate: HMS Montrose

Royal Fleet Auxiliary: RFA Argus

Offshore Patrol Vessel: HMS Tyne

Inshore Patrol Vessel: Gibraltar Squadron

Mine Counter-measures Vessel: MCM1 Crew 3 (HMS Blyth).

Hydrographic: Royal Navy Meteorological Squadron

Engineering: HMS Lancaster

Above-water Warfare: HMS Iron Duke

Underwater Warfare: HMS Richmond

Information Superiority: 40 Commando

Electronic Warfare: HMS Diamond

Diving: Fleet Diving Unit 2

Intelligence: HMS Somerset