Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron Off To Flying Start

The smallest Squadron in the Royal Navy got 2013 off to a flying start with training off the west coast of Scotland.

Late last year the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron exchanged their two P2000 vessels – HMS Dasher and Pursuer – for Her Majesty’s Ships Raider and Tracker.

The new additions are faster and more suited to the Squadron’s vital role of protecting high value shipping in and around the Clyde.

And in January the crews of HMS Tracker and Raider got the chance to familiarise themselves with their new vessels, conducting a series of exercises around their usual operating area in the Firth of Clyde.

The training included both crews sailing on Tracker to practice firing their armament of General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) and 5.56 rifles, as well as exercising with a Search and Rescue Sea King Helicopter from HMS Gannet in Prestwick.

Meanwhile, sister ship, HMS Raider remained home at HM Naval Base Clyde undergoing important engineering work.

One of the vessel’s two powerful Mercedes engines needed to be replaced, a big job on any ship, but on one with a marine engineering department of just two it was a significant challenge for the crew.

Luckily it was a challenge HMS Raider’s Marine Engineering Officer, Chief Petty Officer Nick Calvert, was more than up for.

“We were given help from two submariner Engineering Technicians who are on long term loan to the Squadron and the rest of the crew helped where possible,” said Nick.

“No engineer looks forward to a main engine change, but in the end it proved to be an interesting and at times enjoyable evolution.

He joked:

“I did feel a bit uncomfortable at having warfare branch ratings using tools on my new engine, though!”

With the change completed and tested, HMS Raider was able to join Tracker for the next exercise – a circumnavigation of the Isle of Bute.

This gave trainee officers on both ships a rare opportunity to test their pilotage and ship-handling skills navigating the narrow (even for a P2000) Kyles of Bute.

“One of the best things about being based on the Clyde is having such a beautiful landscape on our doorstep”, explained Lieutenant Commander Sam Nightingale, Commanding Officer of both HMS Tracker and the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron.

“Being able to explore some of the more remote parts of our area of operations whilst developing the skills of our young officers is one of the more pleasant ways to spend a day at sea.”

With the exercise successfully achieved, both ships remain on the Clyde, with one permanently at short notice to provide protection for important vessels passing through the confines of the Firth of Clyde.

One of the best things about being based on the Clyde is having such a beautiful landscape on our doorstep.

Lieutenant Commander Sam Nightingale