HMS Argyll makes historic visit to Cuba

HMS Argyll has conducted a Defence Engagement visit to Havana, Cuba to build upon the relationship with the Cuban Military and Defence Ministry.

The visit included discussion of areas where Cuba and the UK are working together such as the international effort to combat the Ebola Virus Disease and in Counter-Narcotics operations.

The most capable type 23 frigate received a spectacular formal welcome to Havana with the exchange of a 21-gun salute and a ceremonial lining of the ship’s side and the city’s fort with sailors. 

The popularity of the visit was clear from the start as the ship provided the opportunity to tour the upper deck to the local population. 

In only a few hours a total of 2,000 people came on board to see at first hand the wide range of operations a modern day UK warship can conduct.

It is a rare but fantastic opportunity for me and my Ship’s Company to be here in Cuba

Commander Paul Hammond, Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll

The second day in port saw HMS Argyll hosting local dignitaries onboard for an evening reception. 

When addressing the guests the Captain of HMS Argyll, Commander Paul Hammond, said: “It is a rare but fantastic opportunity for me and my Ship’s Company to be here in Cuba.  

"Cuban medical personnel are working alongside the UK effort to combat Ebola in Africa and I am delighted to be here to further our cooperation in areas such as counter narcotics and disaster relief.”

Other events during the visit included a dinner for the Devonport based frigate’s officers hosted by Cuban military officers and a rugby game against a local team.  

The Cuban’s played some excellent rugby in the first half and, though the second half was more competitive, the Cuban team finished easy winners.  

The rugby game was an example of the decision of Cuba and the UK to further sporting cooperation, concentrating on the development of football, cricket and rugby in Cuba. 

This will include the organisation of an annual football match to commemorate the first recorded game in Cuba in 1911.  

For HMS Argyll this is the last port of call of her extremely successful six month deployment to the Caribbean and North Atlantic. 

Following her hurricane relief and drug busting exploits the ship now heads back to the UK and will return before Christmas, she will be relieved of her duties by HMS Severn.

HMS Argyll deployed to the Caribbean region to provide reassurance and, if required, humanitarian aid and disaster relief support to the UK’s British Overseas Territories and other islands during the hurricane season. 

HMS Argyll also conducted counter narcotics patrols to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.