HMS Montrose on the latest leg of epic mission

Another week, another Far Eastern adventure for the men and women of HMS Montrose as the warship paid a brief visit to Brunei.

After enjoying the bright lights of Tokyo, a spot of anti-submarine warfare training with the Japanese and US Navies, the Plymouth-based frigate sailed with American tanker USNS Guadalupe on the 2,500-mile journey to the small Commonwealth state.

Montrose used the small port of Muara at Brunei’s northeastern tip to stock up on supplies – flown in by the RAF – giving crew sufficient time to explore the country and sample its culture – which proved to be wildly different from Japan.

Sailors visited the iconic Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque – considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia-Pacific region, with its main dome coated in real gold – while others joined a mangrove safari, taking a boat trip into the jungle to see a host of native wildlife and also get a glimpse of the endangered proboscis monkey.

It was a fantastic opportunity for the team to train in the challenging environment of the jungle and refresh their core infantry skills after a few months at sea.

Lieutenant Rory Moynihan RN

“The safari was great, we saw so much wildlife and I found the mosque truly amazing!” said Steward Glenyssor Gumbs.

Some of Montrose’s crew were already in Brunei when the ship arrived: her Royal Marines Boarding Team flew ahead from Japan to complete a two-week jungle warfare package laid on by Brunei-based Gurkhas.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for the team to train in the challenging environment of the jungle and refresh their core infantry skills after a few months at sea,” said Lieutenant Rory Moynihan, in charge of the Royal Marines aboard the frigate.

“The Gurkhas’ vast experience, professionalism and hospitality made the exercise a complete success.”

The army in Brunei also supported an afternoon on their firing ranges for the Royal Navy boarding team, ensuring their weapon skills are honed and ready for upcoming operations in the Indian Ocean and Gulf.

On the second day Montrose held a VIP breakfast with guests including First Admiral Pengiran Dato Norazmi – Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy – and Richard Lindsay, the British High Commissioner.

Following breakfast, Montrose sailed with Kapal Diraja Brunei Berkat, an inshore patrol vessel, for a rare chance for the two navies to exercise side-by-side.

“While this was a brief stop, it allowed us to further relationships built by recent visits by HMS Albion and Argyll by exercising with the Royal Brunei Navy – and all in 24 hours,” said Montrose’s Commanding Officer Conor O’Neill.

“The Army garrison helped us get our supplies on board and trained the Royal Marines, and our relationship with our allies in Brunei provided a safe and secure location for the whole visit.”

After three months in the Pacific, Montrose is gradually making her way to the Gulf for a three-year deployment, operating out of the new British naval facility in Bahrain, rotating her ship’s company every four months to sustain her lengthy mission.