HMS Montrose visits Tokyo

With the upper slopes of Mount Fuji blanketed in snow and an airliner taking off from Japan’s busiest airport (Haneda), HMS Montrose edges her way into Tokyo – the fourth Royal Navy ship inside 12 months to call on the Japanese capital.

The Plymouth-based frigate is enjoying six days at Harumi Wharf in the shadow of the Rainbow Bridge (it’s colourfully illuminated at night) – about three miles from the city centre.

A large welcoming party from Japanese sailors greeted the Type 23, fresh from working with the US Navy on maritime security operations in the South China Sea, and Commanding Officer Commander Conor O’Neill thanked his hosts for their hospitality by handing over a mounted crest to the Port Authority.

Montrose follows her sister HMS Sutherland (last April), HMS Albion (last summer) and, most recently, HMS Argyll, in Tokyo over the New Year period.

Like her predecessors she’s conducting exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force

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Like her predecessors she’s conducting exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force – she’s berthed next to the destroyer Murasame at Harumi – and the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, the latest workout involving the three allied navies.

Such joint operations are intended to generally support peace in the western Pacific Rim and specifically to put pressure on North Korea and Pyongyang’s illegal nuclear programme.

If you happen to be in Tokyo this weekend, you can have a look around Montrose between 10am and 3pm (local time…) on Saturday and Sunday.

The frigate is in the final stages of a mammoth journey from Devon to Bahrain which has taken her to the Caribbean, South America, numerous South Pacific idylls, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.

Eventually she’ll take up station in the Gulf where she’ll be based for up to three years at the RN’s new support facility, with crew being replaced every four months to sustain her long-term security/peacekeeping presence.