Pirates Shiver As HMS Montrose Takes A Tenerife Break

Hey, fancy coming back to see my battleship? that’s got to be one of the most impressive chat up lines. Judging by the beaming smiles on the young ladies heading off the gang plank of HMS Montrose shore leave definately has its attractions. The 185 good men and women of the Type 23 Royal Navy frigate certainly deserved their four day break in Santa Cruz, having just left their Devonport base in Plymouth they were stocking up and gearing up for a six month tour in the South Atlantic keeping a watchful eye on the Falkland Islands and other outposts 8,000 plus nautical miles away.

PM Call Me Dave has just issued the go ahead for commercial ships to carry arms and security staff when sailing the pirate infested African seas off Somali. A year ago Montrose patrolled that area and blasted a roque pirate ship out of the water. Just looking at the 32 Seawolf missiles and the imposing 4.5 inch gun turret was enough to dispel any thoughts I had about getting an eye patch and a parrot. Lieutenant Commander Sam Law, the ships public relations officer gave me a guided tour below decks, I was surprised how relatively spacious it was, even the junior messdecks have a chill out area with Tv, DVD and Hi Fi. Up on deck I resisted the urge to reset the main gun to face Gran Canaria.

The bridge was very compact with clear views out onto Santa Cruz dock, I even got to swivel in Commander Jonathan Lett’s chair. A helicopter had definately been mentioned in the research I had done so where had they hidden it? That was easily answered as my guide pulled open the hanger door up on deck to reveal a Lynx helicopter with rotor blades folded and ready to pounce like a coiled spring. Even this bit of hardware packs a hefty punch, Sea Skua anti ship missiles, Stingray torpedos, depth charges, and machine guns could soon teach an opponent the error of their ways.

The current Montrose, the third to proudly bear the name was built on the Clyde and launched in 1992. capable of 28 knots it’s driven by 5.2 mw of power but the bit of information that impressed me was all its vertical surfaces have a 70 degree slope which makes it appear the size of a fishing ship on radar. Suitably impressed I left the ship hoping that the manly absent crew enjoy all the excesses that Tenerife can offer, even with summer creeping in at the South Atlantic it’s a long trip away – fair winds and tides to them all.