THE Royal Naval warship HMS Montrose from Plymouth has been alongside in the Scottish port of Montrose this week, conducting the first visit there in six years.
During the visit the crew have been busy maintaining their strong links with the ship’s local affiliates and exploring the delights of Angus including raising charitable funds while on patrol overseas.
HMS Montrose has recently completed a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean where, amongst other operational tasks, she assisted with the removal of chemical weapons from Syria.
During her time away the crew of the most Scottish ship in the fleet raised over £15,000 for charities one of the highest amounts ever raised by one warship.
In Montrose the generous sailors hand over sums to two charities the ship has been supporting for over two decades - the Angus branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association to see the fantastic work they have been doing in the community for years.
The sailors met the riders and horses with even tthe captain taking to the saddle before presenting £1000 to Angus RDA.
The money will help the team and the volunteers continue their work allowing disabled youngsters to ride one of the eight ponies at the centre.
About 40 adults and children with a variety of disabilities ride each week in the purpose-built facilities just outside Forfar in Angus. The crew has been supporting the work of the centre since 1992 - this was while their ship was still being built and they were waiting to serve in her.
Lieutenant George Lewis, one of the officers under training in the ship, said “I never imagined when I joined the Royal Navy I would get involved in a good cause like this. It was really rewarding to see the riders get so much out of the experience, and although I’m a little too tall to ride the ponies, it looked brilliant fun.”
On the same day, another team from HMS Montrose visited Dorward House, a care home in the town of Montrose which is the ship’s longest standing affiliation, and which this year is celebrating its 175th anniversary.
Originally built in June 1839 to provide accommodation for 100 residents, the statutes for Dorward House are laid down by Acts of Parliament and Royal Consent but have now been adapted to meet modern standards.
Today, after a multimillion pound refurbishment, Dorward House is a modern and high-quality residential home, providing residential, dementia and respite care for for 40 residents from the local area.
After a tour of the facilities, and meeting many of the long term residents, the sailors were invited to stay for afternoon tea, and shared tea and cake with many more of the Montrose pensioners.
Before they left, the Commanding Officer presented a cheque for £1000 to Dorward House deputy manager Lavine McMaster to assist the home in continuing the vital work they continue to do in the community.
Leading Engineering Technician Sean Starkie said afterwards: “It was wonderful to meet the residents of Dorward House today, they were all in such high sprits and made us feel very welcome in their home. It’s quite rare for us to make it to the town and everyone we met really appreciated our visit”.
Commander James Parkin, the Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose said: “As well as the considerable pride of taking my ship into the town of Montrose, the opportunity to visit Angus RDA and Dorward House while we were here was as rewarding as it was humbling.
"We have supported both institutions for over 20 years now, and all of my team relished the chance to meet some of the beneficiaries of these amazing charities, as well as make our own contribution to their funds.”
Montrose is a Duke Class frigate built at Yarrows on the Clyde and launched in July 1992, commissioned into service with the Royal Navy in June 1994.
She has a crew of around 185 men and women. Although this class of frigate was designed primarily for the anti-submarine warfare role, Montrose is now designated as a “general purpose frigate” and is fitted with a broad suite of the latest sonar, radar and communications systems. HMS Montrose carries a Lynx helicopter and Sting Ray torpedo.
Air defence is provided by a Vertical Launch Sea Wolf weapon system and surface armaments include the Harpoon missile and the 4.5inch gun for naval fire support.
Montrose enters her scheduled refit period in September and will have her radar, combat and computer systems upgraded as well as a package of work to maintain the hull and hotel services for her remaining 13 or so years in service with the Royal Navy.