Historic moment as entire 1st Patrol Boat Squadron joins up for exercise

Spectators in the Solent were treated to the rare sight of all 14 vessels of the Royal Navy’s 1st Patrol Boat Squadron performing manoeuvres together this week.

For the first time in at least a decade every one of the Archer-class ships staged a series of close, impressive formations, churning the waters of the eastern Solent white as they raced along at speeds of over 20 knots.

The boats, which joined the Royal Navy in the late 1980s, have just completed a five-year revamp which has added ten knots to their top speed and will help keep them in service into the mid-2030s.

The ships are based across nine locations in the UK from Faslane and Leith in Scotland, to Penarth near Cardiff, and Plymouth and Portsmouth on the south coast.

For the first time in at least a decade every one of the Archer-class ships staged a series of close, impressive formations

With the end of their Easter deployments – which took some to Dublin and the Isle of Man, others to Hamburg – there was the rare chance for every vessel to converge on Portsmouth for a few days.

The ships are attached to University Royal Navy Units across the UK, giving students a taste of what the Senior Service does: HMS Blazer serves the universities of Portsmouth and Southampton, HMS Smiter for Oxford, and Pursuer for Glasgow and Strathclyde.

The three hours of intense manoeuvres also involved wartime vintage gunboat MGB81 and HMS Medusa, used in WW2 to protect harbours and the D-Day landings from U-boat attacks.