HMS Spey has become the first Royal Navy ship in 46 years to visit the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu. It was January 29, 1976, when HMS Plymouth – a Rothesay-class frigate that was later involved in the Falklands War – visited the archipelago, which lies 1,090 miles east of Australia .
The patrol boat Spey ended that run as it continues its long-term mission in the Indo-Pacific, which saw it sail 24,000 miles from the UK via Hawaii and carry out a number of operations and port calls along the way. The ship arrived in Vanuatu after working in Fiji and after supporting the fight against coronavirus on Pitcairn Island and updating historical maps of remote Pacific waters.
Spey stopped over in Port Vila for a Covid-safe visit and will work with patrol boat RVS Takuare close to the capital and main commercial center before carrying out operations in the islands’ waters to protect the fishery. The Commanding Officer of HMS Spey, Commander Mike Proudman, said: “It is a privilege to visit Vanuatu.”
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It marks a significant return of the Royal Navy to support the government and people of Vanuatu. “While the Covid situation does not allow us to engage as much as we would like, the opportunity to support patrols and build our relationship with the Police Maritime Wing is valuable, and we hope to be able to return to help further when the situation permits. “said British High Commissioner Karen Bell.
She continued: “I am delighted to welcome HMS Spey to Vanuatu waters where she will conduct non-contact and Covid safe drills with Vanuatu’s RVS Takuare in and around Port Vila before carrying out operations in the exclusive economic zone of Vanuatu. I hope this visit will mark the establishment of a close and productive relationship between HMS Spey and the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing, laying the foundation for close cooperation in the future. in areas such as fisheries protection and monitoring, in support of Vanuatu’s priorities.
Police Commissioner Robson Iavro said: “We are pleased to welcome HMS Spey to Vanuatu waters this week for a COVID-safe programme. While transiting Vanuatu waters, HMS Spey will work closely with the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing, Australian Maritime Advisors and the Department of Fisheries, particularly on maritime surveillance and fisheries matters.
This tour will adhere to all current Covid protocols in Vanuatu and will not involve any direct personal contact between visitors and shore staff.
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