HMS Shoreham returns from Gulf deployment

Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Shoreham returned to her home port of HM Naval Base Clyde on Friday (August 28) to a rousing welcome from families and loved-ones.

For the past three-years the Sandown Class mine hunter has been operating in the Gulf, working with international navies to help keep vital sea lanes safe and conduct seabed surveys.

Sailing the ship into port was Crew 1 from the Faslane-based First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1), the 34 men and women who have run the vessel for the past eight-months.

“This has been a significant deployment, both in time and effort for the ship and ship’s company,” said Lieutenant Commander Mark Redmayne, the Commanding Officer of HMS Shoreham.  

As my time comes to a close I’ve been left with some fantastic memories and have visited places many don’t get the chance to see.

Chief Petty Officer James Morgan

he continued, “From Bahrain we have worked extremely closely with many of the countries in the region, as well as with both the US and French navies.

“The reassurance that these small units offer in such a challenging region is significant and my team has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that the Royal Navy’s mine counter measures capability remains the world leader.”

At sea 24/7, working alongside the US Navy Fifth Fleet, the 30-nation Combined Maritime Forces and Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the Royal Navy’s commitment to the region is unequivocal. 

At any one time a total of four Royal Navy mine hunters are operating in the Gulf, ensuring that the UK’s interests in the region are safeguarded.

One sailor who was eagerly anticipating the return home was Leading Seaman Mine Warfare Specialist Matthew Routliff. 

The twenty-seven-year-old sailor became a father during Crew 1’s deployment with HMS Shoreham.  Despite being separated from his family for months, Matthew said that he felt lucky.

“Fortunately, the ship’s programme meant that our Commanding Officer was able to give me permission to witness the birth,” he said.  “But shortly afterwards I had to return to the Gulf and for the past four months haven’t been home.

“I am really looking forward to spending time with my partner Vicky and our son, Theodore-James.”

For Airdrie sailor, Chief Petty Officer James Morgan, his return home to the UK will be a particularly poignant one.  The Gulf mission will be James’ last, capping a 26-year career in the naval service. 

“This is my last deployment with the Royal Navy,” said James.  “As my time comes to a close I’ve been left with some fantastic memories and have visited places many don’t get the chance to see.”

James, who joined the Royal Navy in 1989 after working for a time as a prison officer, has previously served on board HMS Edinburgh, HMS Gloucester and HMS Exeter.

There is a strong naval tradition in his family, with his father – also called James – serving 35-years in the Royal Navy.  James Senior, who retired in 1994 and lived in Coatbridge with wife Annie, sadly passed away last year. 

“I took my father’s ashes with me to sea last year during a Mediterranean deployment,” said James.  “I scattered them in every port we visited along the way.”

He continued: “I will miss the Royal Navy, but it’s now time to be with my family.  My wife, Gail, and my daughter, Laura, have sacrificed a lot to allow me to have a career that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.”

HMS Shoreham is a Sandown Class Mine Counter Measures Vessel, one of seven based at Faslane.  The ships are operated by eight crews which rotate among the different hulls. 

Built mainly from glass reinforced plastic so as not to trigger magnetic mines, the vessels are hugely capable, packed with the latest in mine hunting technology.