THE Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset celebrates her 20th Birthday tomorrow (Wednesday) while on deployment.
Since her launch two decades ago she has served the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom at home and around the globe.
Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Limited, HMS Somerset was launched on 25 June 1994 by Lady Layard (the wife of the then Second Sea Lord). Twenty years on the West Country’s favourite warship has travelled 57,500 nautical miles and has visited many countries worldwide. Lady Layard maintains a close interest in ‘her’ ship to this day.
The current crew is taking the time to celebrate this milestone in the ship’s life, during the final leg of their six month deployment east of Suez. The 200 men and women have adopted the tag line ‘'Celebrating 20 years of 'Faith for Duty'; 1994 -2014' and are undertaking events to celebrate over then next few months, including a birthday cake.
HMS Somerset has also produced a fitting ‘20’ image to mark the occasion, photographed on the blue seas of the Mediterranean. The two was formed by the wake of the ship’s two smaller sea-boats Phantom and Spitfire, with the zero formed by HMS Somerset during a high speed turn. The ship’s Lynx helicopter Blackthorn took the photographs.
HMS Somerset’s Navigating Officer, Lieutenant Chris Fox, said: “The twenty photograph turned out really well after much planning and some precise ship and boat-handling. It is a fitting tribute to HMS Somerset’s longevity by her current ship’s Company.’’
HMS Somerset has had ten previous captains. The current captain, Commander Mike Smith, said: “HMS Somerset is as capable and effective today as she was built to be 20 years ago.
Our recent successful deployment is testament to a first class design and the effectiveness of the Royal Navy.
She has much more to offer the Service in the future. It is an honour to celebrate twenty years of service to the nation and pay a tribute to all the men and women that have served in Somerset during her operational life.’’
Commander Devonport Flotilla, Commodore Richard Farrington, said: “HMS Somerset is a successful warship, who is coming to the end of a terrific operational deployment. HMS Somerset’s positive contribution to the Royal Navy over the last two decades is testament to her builders, successive careful and competent ship’s companies and the current highly professional team serving in her. More of the same please!’’
HMS Somerset has maintained a presence in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf since early 2014 and will return to UK this summer.
During her six months as part of Operation Kipion she has been engaged in a wide range of maritime security operations which are designed to actively deter, disrupt and suppress unlawful use of the sea in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations.