The Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset is set to leave the Rock today, following a brief visit, to commence a six month operational deployment East of Suez.
Following nine months of training, the Devonport based frigate, dubbed ‚Äúthe West Country‚Äôs favourite warship‚Äù sailed from the UK last week with Gibraltar being her first port of call.
HMS Somerset‚Äôs Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Smith Royal Navy said: ‚ÄúMy crew are absolutely delighted to be here, for me it‚Äôs my ninth visit with different ships and the incredibly warm welcome HMS Somerset received this morning was fantastic.‚Äù
‚ÄúFor all sailors in the Royal Navy, and HMS Somerset is no different, Gibraltar has an almost mythical status,‚Äù Commander Smith explained, ‚ÄúI remember coming to Gibraltar for the first time , and Gibraltar being a place I had heard much about during my career with the Royal Navy, an excitement builds up.‚Äù
In addition to the replenishment of essential stores, around 60 sailors have participated in the traditional Rock Race, with some members of the Ship‚Äôs Company, including Commander Smith, choosing to cycle up the Rock instead of running.
Additionally, the Ship‚Äôs sportsmen and sportswomen have made the most of the Rock‚Äôs sporting facilities by challenging local teams to football and netball fixtures, albeit with limited successes.
HMS Somerset will be home to 215 servicemen and women as they conduct counter piracy, counter terrorism, counter narcotics and wider Maritime Security Operations over the next six months.
The Operational Deployment could see her working in support of EU, NATO and Coalition Forces to undertake Maritime Security patrols across the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and Gulf Region.
Such patrols are designed to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy and the unlawful use of the sea in order to protect global maritime security and trade.
Somerset spent 2013 regenerating her operational capability following a ¬£21 million refit making her the most up-to-date and capable Type 23 in the Royal Navy‚Äôs fleet.