Diexter Thomas

The tenth ship to bear this name, HMS Enterprise entered Gibraltar a few days ago. The ship is an Echo Class Hydrographic Survey Vessel that is used to collect information about underwater terrains and environments.

The vessel has temporarily stopped in Gibraltar before heading further into the Mediterranean. The ship was ordered back in 2000, launched in May 2nd 2002 and commissioned on the 17th of October 2003. The HMS Enterprise has been operating all over the world, from the Indian Ocean, down to the South Atlantic, up north towards Norway and up in the Arctic circle, for example. The ship collects oceanic data and turns that data into maps and sea charts, and further collects additional information that may be required from them.

Commanding Officer of the ship, Cecil Ladislaus who has been in Command since last November, invited members of the press to come on board the vessel to show what they were all about and about what their purpose is within the Royal Navy.

Although the ship is just a survey ship, it isn’t something to look down upon. Mr Ladislaus said, ‘We are not a ship that goes out actively looking for fights, but I’d argue that if someone comes to look for one we are able to protect ourselves and push them away as required.’

Surveying is the primary thing that the vessel was designed to do, but it has also done other significant things in the past also, to which Cecil goes into detail by saying, ‘When this ship was deployed out to the Mediterranean off Libya during the counter-migration tasking, if we came across migrants, these ships alongside the sister ship HMS Echo would pick up six, seven hundred migrants. We talked about the fact that we have 55 to 60 people on board; looking after that many people is quite a challenge and also co-ordinating the rescue activity because it would not just be us, we might be tasked off by the coastguard to then look after a some other ships, and suddenly with a very small team we are co-ordinating the rescue for thousands of people who would have otherwise lost their lives. So there’s quite a lot out there, we do lots of things for people by using everything we can as best we can through training, technology and practice.’

‘We do surveying from 1,000 meters through to about 50 meters with the ship, from 40, 50 meters to about 5 meters we have our survey motor boat. We need to understand what the environment is like out there so that if we are putting task groups in the area, they can understand where they will be operating, so if you imagine so much of the world is not mapped, in which case, if there’s a requirement to operate our ships in this area because tensions have risen for whatever reason, maps and sea charts are required by submarines and ships and marines, and that’s what we do.’

When asked what HMS Enterprise was doing in Gibraltar, Captain Cecil Ladislaus told PANORAMA, ‘We have come out here to pick up some stores, to get some routine training done because the good thing about having a UK Base in this area is that we can do medical checks, we can do fitness tests, we can go and use the weapon ranges up here, we can get help from the dockyard staff over here as well, fixing bits and pieces. There are lots that Gibraltar still has to offer.'

'A lot of people were worried when everything started shutting down in the ’80s and '90s how relevant Gibraltar will be, I think it’s more relevant now than it ever used to be. I think that it’s great that ships are coming back here on a regular basis, it’s great to come back home.’

Cecil was born and brought up in Gibraltar in 1977, he did Sixth Form here, was in the Gibraltar Regiment and left to go to University in 1995. While in University, Cecil wanted to commission into the Army and had instead decided to join the Navy. In 1999 he did his selection, passed it and in January 2000 he joined the Navy.

In just 5 months from now, Cecil Ladislaus will be celebrating his 20th year in the Royal Navy. He is very proud to say that he is the first Gibraltarian Indian Commanding Officer of a Royal Navy Ship.