Leo Olivero
After official commissioning Rock set to be home base for HMS Trent?

Last month Panorama exclusively reported that HMS Trent was expected to deployed to this area of the Mediterranean and would use Gibraltar as its home base in between its main operational role in the region.

Though not officially confirmed by the MOD, because politics it seems, is again playing its part where Gibraltar, Spain, the UK and now where the Mediterranean Sea is involved. Where it appears, the part of the report involving Gibraltar is being kept as low key as possible. Because we wouldn’t want to upset Spanish sentiments, especially, when we are now doing so well with relations, particularly, with all the Brexit wheeling’s and dealings in full swing, who would want to risk ruining the political momentum?

However, the fact remains, that on Monday HMS Trent received her Commissioning Order in a ceremony at HM Portsmouth Naval Base before the vessel set sail south and is now on a course and on route in the direction of Gibraltar!

HMS Trent is the latest River-class patrol ship, and the third of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels built to replace the Navy’s current fleet of River-class vessels has now joins her two sister ships HMS Forth and HMS Medway.

HMS Trent Main Deployment Role

The vessels main role as she steams down to the region and in fact, her first operational deployment is to join and form part of Operation Sea Guardian.

Operation Sea Guardian involves a number of NATO vessels who help protect the region from international crime and terrorism. Their operational presence also develops a picture of daily maritime activity by using a range of vessels and maritime patrol aircraft, all under the operational control of NATO’s Maritime Command at Northwood in Middlesex.

The Royal Navy, while trying its best to avoid mentioning Gibraltar on their official online platform have remarked that ‘HMS Trent has sailed for the Mediterranean to add her weight to NATO’s ongoing maritime security operation there and that ‘Sea Guardian’ deters international crime and terrorism and monitors maritime activity in the area’.

The vessel is also expected to train and patrol with NATO forces in the task group, working with other partners in the region to develop closer ties and provide a vehicle for the UK’s international engagement.

HMS Trent’s Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr James Wallington-Smith, said at the commissioning ceremony: “It’s my honour and privilege to take HMS Trent from the start of her career in the Royal Navy to her first operational deployment as part of a key NATO mission in the Mediterranean.

“The entire Ship’s Company have worked tirelessly in difficult circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic to prepare HMS Trent for this day.  As we hold the commissioning ceremony and depart for operations, I could not be prouder of them and everyone within Portsmouth Naval Base and beyond who has helped us reach this point”.

Also, on Monday, at the commissioning ceremony, Commodore Craig Wood, Commander of the Royal Navy’s Surface Flotilla said “By deploying HMS Trent to the Mediterranean, the Royal Navy will be supporting UK and NATO security with her patrols of the international shipping lanes and denying criminals and terrorists unchallenged use of the sea.”

Crew Rotation System Brings Gibraltar Home Base Use Into Perspective?

It is understood, as we reported last month, that Gibraltar will be HMS Trent main home base in the region, not only to provide logistical support, but importantly, because of the facilities provided locally which very much compliments the vessels crewing system!

According to official information: The Ship’s Company has 65 ratings and officers with roughly two-thirds of them crewing the vessel at any time in a three-watch system. While two watches are on board the third watch are able to take leave or conduct personal and collective training and courses.

Watch rotations will take place within ports visited by HMS Trent, this in common with the Royal Navy’s other offshore patrol vessels, which helps to keep the vessel available at sea for about 320 days of the year.