HMS Tracker heads to Loch Ness for rescue exercise

Royal Navy patrol boat HMS Tracker has traversed one of Scotland's most iconic waterways as part of her three-week deployment.

Tracker recently entered the Caledonian Canal at Corpach, near Fort William, on her way to negotiate the 60 mile stretch of locks, aqueducts and bridges that make up the world-famous channel.

The journey included "Neptune's Staircase", the stretch of Canal at Banavie, which is one of the longest staircase locks in Britain.

Arriving at Loch Ness on following day, the vessel and her crew were soon immersed in a joint training exercise with the Loch Ness based Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and a HM Coastguard Search & Rescue helicopter based in Inverness.

The training included transferring personnel between boats and also winching a dummy casualty to and from the hovering helicopter.

Friday was a really rewarding and enjoyable day. It was good to be able to team up with our maritime colleagues from the RNLI and Coastguard and work together

Able Seaman Nathan Barnes, HMS Tracker

Able Seaman Nathan Barnes, who is responsible for looking after HMS Tracker's seamanship and lifesaving equipment, said: "Friday was a really rewarding and enjoyable day. It was good to be able to team up with our maritime colleagues from the RNLI and Coastguard and work together."

He continued: "Regardless of our individual jobs, all mariners have a responsibility for the safety of life at sea and it was reassuring to know that three different organisations can come to the aid of the public if needed in an emergency."

Over the past seven days HMS Tracker has also hosted a total of 50 children from a number of youth organisations, including TS St Christopher SCC unit in Fort William, 18th Inverness Muirtown Sea Scouts, and TS Briton SCC in Inverness.

Members of the ship's company showed visitors around the modified Archer Class vessel, allowing them the opportunity to sit in the Quartermaster's chair and handle the steering of the ship.

HMS Tracker departed Inverness on Sunday and is continuing her transit, calling into Lossiemouth, Wick, Orkney, Stornoway, Portree, Tobermory and Northern Ireland.

HMS Tracker is one of two Royal Navy patrol boats which make up the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1998, Tracker is a fully-fledged armed patrol boat responsible for protecting high-value shipping on the Clyde.